You’ve probably heard people say that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ and for many valid reasons, it is! As the name suggests, ‘breakfast’ is when you break-fast after an overnight fasting period. A nutritious breakfast is meant to replenish your body’s glucose levels and give you that boost of energy to tackle the rest of the day! Apart from providing you with energy, breakfast foods are also good sources of essential nutrients such as calcium, iron, Vitamin B, protein, and fibre. Research shows that if these nutrients are missed at breakfast, they are less likely to be consumed later in the day. As a parent, you need to ensure that you are setting the right example for your kids by eating a nutritious breakfast meal everyday. Since, children are more likely to emulate your behaviour and want to do the same.
The benefits of a healthy breakfast
Eating breakfast is associated with a range of positive health outcomes, including better nutrient intake and a healthy body weight. On the other hand, skipping breakfast is actually associated with:
- A higher body mass index (BMI)
- An increased likelihood to consume unhealthy snacks
- Suffering from a deficiency as nutrient consumption might be inadequate.
As a parent, it is important to be aware of the effects of skipping breakfast as it can make kids feel tired, restless, or irritable. Over time, this might cause them to develop an unhealthy relationship with food or health issues associated with skipping breakfast. On the other hand, children who consume a regular and nutritious meal are more likely to:
- Meet daily energy and nutrient requirements
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Have higher concentration levels
- Develop a sharper memory
- Miss fewer days of school
- Make better food choices
How to plan healthy breakfasts?
Realistically, it wouldn't be possible to arrange the kind of breakfast you see in movies every single day. However, don’t take that as a reason to skip breakfast altogether! A healthy breakfast doesn’t have to be a traditional breakfast and could also include leftover ingredients from the previous night. As long as the meal includes some form of carbohydrate, fiber, and protein it will work perfectly. Carbohydrates are a good source of instant energy for the body, energy from protein will benefit after the carbohydrates have been used up, and fiber helps provide a feeling of fullness and promotes better digestion.
Good sources of these nutrients include:
- carbohydrates: whole-grain cereals, brown rice, roti or paratha, whole-grain breads and muffins, fruits, vegetables
- protein: low-fat or nonfat dairy products, lean meats, eggs, nuts, nut butters, seeds
- fiber: whole-grain breads, waffles and cereals, brown rice, grains, millets, fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts
To ensure that breakfast actually happens it is most important to plan ahead by:
- Stocking your kitchen with healthy breakfast options.
- Preparing as much as you can the night before (keep the bowls ready, cut up fruit, etc.)
- Encouraging your children to wake up early
- Letting your kids help plan and prepare breakfast (take their ideas and see how they can be made nutritious)
- Keeping grab-and-go alternatives ready (fresh fruit in boxes, zip lock packets of whole-grain, low-sugar cereal, yogurt or smoothies, etc)
Breakfast shouldn't be a meal that's skipped. Instead, it should be seen as an opportunity to promote healthy eating among children. Lastly, never underestimate your influence on your child’s desire to eat breakfast. By making breakfast an enjoyable meal and eating something yourself, you will be modelling the behaviour you wish to see in your kids. In turn, this will favour both you and them!