Start the day off right with breakfast!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, for kids and adults alike. Eating breakfast has been shown to increase mental capacity and improve behaviour, mood, and memory. It’s crucial to start your day with a nutritious breakfast and even more so for your children before school each morning. However, it can be difficult to make sure your child gets a well-balanced breakfast during the morning rush before heading off to school.
October 17th – 23rd is National School Safety Week, and Canada Safety Council encourages parents and guardians to ensure that children eat a well-balanced, nutritious meal before they head off to school each morning. By eating a nutritious breakfast, children will be well equipped to take on the day with enough energy to stay alert, learn and participate to their full potential.
Breakfast literally means to “break the fast” from going eight to 12 hours without eating. You need to give your body and brain the nutrients it needs to refuel. A balanced breakfast not only kick-starts the metabolism, but it will set your child up for a more successful day. More than a quarter-century of research supports a positive link between breakfast, mental alertness, and physical performance. Children who eat breakfast are more creative and have improved memory, can problem-solve easier and have better verbal skills. Children who skip breakfast don’t make up for the missed nutrients later in the day, and have more difficulty focusing on tasks, have lower self-esteem and are absent more from school.
A healthy breakfast should contain at least three of the four food groups in Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating, such as a bowl of whole grain cereal with milk and fresh berries, or a whole grain muffin, an apple or juice, and a glass of milk or yogurt. Another great breakfast is whole grain toast, a poached egg and an orange.
Mornings can be hectic, so save some time by planning breakfast the night before. This is something you can do with your children by having them contribute ideas on what healthy foods they would like to eat. Also, have your kids help by setting the table with bowls, plates, and utensils, as well as taking out cereal, muffins and bread before they go to bed.
Whether you are short on time or dealing with a picky morning eater, here are some simple suggestions from Breakfast for Learning, a national non-profit organization solely dedicated to child nutrition programs in Canada, to make sure your child attends school well-nourished and ready to learn:
- Ask. Sometimes giving a child a choice about what they want for breakfast can make a world of difference. Offer a few options and see what they prefer.
- Join in. As kids often mimic what their parents or adults around them are doing, join them at the breakfast table, and have a nutritious meal as well.
- Drink Up. Some kids find it easier to drink their breakfast than eat it, so pull out your blender and whip up a quick and healthy breakfast smoothie.
- Have dinner for breakfast. Who doesn’t like pizza for breakfast? Healthy breakfast pizzas on English muffins are always a hit with kids. You can whip up a week’s worth of pizzas at a time and pop them in the oven or microwave for a quick morning meal.
- Scrap tradition. Some kids don’t eat breakfast because they don’t like traditional breakfast foods. Who says that breakfast has to be cereal and toast? Serve leftovers from last night’s meal instead.
- What does your school offer? Check to see if your child’s school has a breakfast program. Eating with peers is a great motivation for kids to eat breakfast.
For more information on well-balanced nutrition, visit www.breakfastforlearning.ca.
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