Children who ate high quality breakfasts did better in school than those who ate poor quality breakfasts. Why does is have to be high quality and what is that? A high quality breakfast has enough calories to sustain them, not too much sugar to avoid a crash (which leads to fidgetiness and irritability) and protein, healthy fats and fiber to help them feel full longer. Otherwise students are left hungry, can’t pay attention, won’t pay attention and aren’t being nourished internally or externally.
For many of us this isn’t really, “news,” so to speak. Our parents have been telling us this for our entire lives. Science has just validated mom. The big news here is the validation is provides for school breakfast programs and the guidelines for parents who chose to feed their children at home: what they eat matters.
So, in the busy hustle bustle of the morning, how can you get everyone out the door, well fed and on time without ending up a total neurotic mess and losing your sanctity screaming at everyone?
4 Tips for a High Quality Kid Breakfast plus A Planning Chart
1. Planning. When you meal plan for the week, plan out what everyone is having for breakfast. Oatmeal one morning, Eggs the next, toast and cheese the next, etc. Add a piece of fruit and voila, easy, high quality meals.
2. Get ready the night before. Eggs planned for the morning? Scramble them the night prior and keep them covered in the fridge overnight. Smoothies? Chop the fruit and store in a container in the refrigerator. Cereal? Have the boxes on the counter, bowls and spoons set out and if your children have trouble pouring milk, put it in a more kid friendly sized container. (Try to get cereals containing less than 10g sugar per serving.)
3. Don’t ignore some convenience foods. Let’s be honest. I’m not Betty Crocker in the kitchen every morning or even most mornings. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to have leftover pancakes in the freezer, usually I’m not. What I do have in the freezer are organic, whole grain toaster waffles. They can be topped with peanut butter, cut fruit (cut the night before, right?), other nut butters, a little syrup for dipping and paired with a glass of milk or a slice of uncured bacon or turkey bacon and an unsweetened applesauce cup/pouch.
4. World’s Okayest Mom is OK!: Making the effort to have a balanced breakfast on most days is enough to help your children, and yourself. I like to say I am the World’s Most Okayest Mom! Not the best, not the worst. Give yourself a break if they eat something you think isn’t all that great every once in a while.
The Planning Chart
High Fiber Breakfast Foods
Homemade muffins using whole grain flours (I prefer non-GMO wheat and corn)
Cereals with at least 3g dietary fiber, 5g is better, per serving
Whole grain breads for toast
Sprouted grain breads for toast
Pancakes and waffles made with whole grains and no added sugar
Fruit – cut fresh or frozen, applesauce, dried fruits
High Quality Protein Breakfast Foods
Pasteurized Egg Whites (from the cartons) added to smoothies
Turkey bacon (uncured)
Nuts, Nut butters
High Quality Fats – use sparingly
Nut butters – have “good” and “bad” fats, 1 Tbsp is usually enough
Coconut oil, butter
Grass Fed Butter
Chia, flax, sunflower seeds (can add to oatmeal, yogurts, smoothies)
Hannah J Littlecott, Graham F Moore, Laurence Moore, Ronan A Lyons, Simon Murphy. Association between breakfast consumption and educational outcomes in 9–11-year-old children. Public Health Nutrition, 2015; 1 DOI:10.1017/S1368980015002669
Cardiff University. “Study provides strongest evidence yet of a link between breakfast quality and educational outcomes: New study of 5,000 9- to 11-year-olds demonstrates significant positive associations between breakfast consumption, educational outcomes.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 November 2015. Available at: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151116212635.htm. Accessiblity verified 18 November 2015.