Kids who skip breakfast will be nutritionally short-changed all day, an expert says.
“Growing bodies and developing brains need regular, healthy meals,” Carole Adler, a dietitian at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said in an agency news release.
The morning meal doesn’t have to include traditional breakfast foods. Give children foods they like, as long as you maintain a healthy balance, she said. For example, they might like leftovers from last night’s dinner or a turkey sandwich to start their day.
If your child loves sugary cereals, she suggested mixing a bit of that with a whole-grain, nutrient-rich healthier type of cereal.
“Nothing has to be off the table altogether, and sometimes just a taste of something your kids like is enough to keep them happy,” Adler said.
Try to provide a breakfast that includes protein, fat and carbohydrates to keep children feeling full and able to focus until lunch. Protein choices include an egg, some nuts, a slice of deli meat or cheese, or a container of yogurt.
Don’t let children skip breakfast, even if they have to eat it on the run, she added. For example, they can head out the door with a piece of fruit, a bag of nut-and-fruit trail mix, a whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter or almond butter, and a carton of milk.
“A fruit-filled shake with milk or yogurt takes only a couple of minutes to drink,” Adler said.
If you’re pressed for time in the morning, Adler recommended taking 10 minutes each night to prepare for breakfast the next day. You can chop up fruit to add to yogurt or cereal, cut up vegetables for an omelet, or mix muffin or whole-grain waffle batter and put it in the fridge.
Other preparations may include getting out a pan for pancakes or a blender for smoothies, and placing a bowl of nut-and-fruit trail mix on the table for your children to dip into before they walk out the door, Adler suggested.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about nutrition.