Originally published on Family-Garden.org website
The sun rises, our alarms wake us (for parents, a child is breathing too close to your face) then the inevitable demands for food echo the halls. How do we feed our family when we are almost too tired to make it to the kitchen and what do we feed our kids so they aren’t starving in an hour? Or, if they are headed for school how can we feed them so they can pay attention and learn?
If this seems like a heavy burden for parents, it is. But why is breakfast so important, especially for children? Breakfast education pioneer, Dr J. Michael Murray of Massachusetts General Hospital states “children who skip breakfast do more poorly on virtually any measure – whether its standardized test scores, cognitive test scores, nutrition, obesity or health.” We can conclude that what we feed our children impacts their energy, behavior and attention. Parents need to understand that food is an incredibly powerful tool for overall childhood success.
Now that we understand how important breakfast is, what should we feed our kids to ensure strong minds and bodies?
Let’s look at the 3 macro nutrients: protein, fat and carbohydrates. These are essential for life and work together in a nutritional symphony.
When we think of the traditional breakfast, often times we visualize TV commercials with carbohydrate heavy meals that include cereal (mostly carbs and sugar), toast (carbs) and juice (sugar). We need to change our thinking when it comes to breakfast.
Carbohydrates turn to sugar in the body which creates blood glucose. Too many carbs without balancing macro nutrients is stressful for the body and can cause inflammation, increased heart rate, high blood sugar, increased adrenaline and hyperactivity. If we consume high amounts of carbohydrates early in the morning the body will burn them off quickly, and crashes will occur.
Protein is important at breakfast because it keeps the body feeling full longer, it takes the body longer to digest protein. Protein is important for developing and maintaining lean muscle. It also helps balance blood sugar, when it drops crashes occur.
Fat is important because it helps strengthen bones, feeds the brain and improves overall liver and lung health. It also helps the body utilize fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K (they are dissolved in fat before they enter the bloodstream to carry out their functions). Fat slows down nutrient absorption to help bodies feel full longer. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) like Omega-3 are critical for brain health. EFAs help children pay attention, improves their focus and behavior. Stay away from processed fats found in fast food, shortening and margarine, as they are void of all nutritional value and stress the body (which gets confused when trying to digest).
What can we feed our children that supports their nutritional needs and is easy?
Chia Coconut Pudding:
Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach Omelet:
Tropical Overnight Oatmeal:
Healthy Breakfast Cookies:
Jodie Lindsay Popma is a mother of 2 boys and lives in Longmont. She is a Holistic Nutritionist, Nutritional Educator and School Food Advocate. To learn more about Jodie visit www.smartfoodmadesimple.com