How many times have you heard "breakfast is the most important meal of the day"? Here's why, in terms of small fry. Kids who eat breakfast:
- Do better in school
- Have fewer behavioral problems
- Have better concentration, more energy and better hand-eye coordination
- Are more likely to meet their nutritional needs overall
- Have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight
Mornings can be hectic in any family, and getting kids -- much less adults -- to eat something can be a challenge. But just look at the payoffs!
If you can't make the morning meal happen at home, send kids off with healthy on-the-go breakfasts to eat on the way. The night before, have them help you fill plastic zipper bags with things like nuts, raisins, and Os cereal; orange slices; low-fat granola; cheese and crackers; sliced apple 'sandwich cookies' filled with peanut butter... or anything else reasonably healthy that you know they'll eat, whether it's 'breakfast food' or not.
Just aim for three things:
- Plenty of fiber and protein - it will keep kids full and energized until lunch.
- Minimal sugar - too much can send energy soaring up, and then crashing down, before the morning's half over.
- Some healthful fat, especially omega-3s - turns out that kids who eat more of these fats do better on short-term memory tests (and they ace pop quizzes!) than kids who eat more saturated fat (think butter, bacon, sausage, pastries, full-fat milk and cheese).
One easy way to get good omega-3 fats into your kids:
Sprinkle walnuts or almonds on their cereal.
Hard-boil a batch of omega-3-enriched eggs, which are widely available. On a high-speed morning, give the kids (yourself, too) an egg and some whole-wheat crackers in a plastic zipper bag. You'll all be good to go till lunch.
There's nothing old-fashioned about oatmeal
In fact, there's growing evidence that it may be an ideal way to start the school day. Kids who eat oatmeal for breakfast -- versus cold cereal, or nothing at all -- remember things better and pay more attention, which is handy for, say, studying math and geography. Try making it overnight in a slow cooker. One reason may be that oatmeal is digested slowly, supplying the brain with a steady stream of energy.