Mamas, Dads, and Caregivers - quick! What's the one meal that's skipped most often in the USA? You guessed it: breakfast. Did you know that nearly half of all families in America regularly take a pass on what is arguably the most important meal of the day? True story and, if you're one of those families, I want to help you find workable solutions to your breakfast dilemma. First, some important breakfast facts...
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, eating a good, healthy breakfast before school can help your child/ren:
- Have a better memory
- Perform better on tests
- Have a better attention span and decreased irritability
- Maintain healthier body weights
- Have better nutrition throughout their day
So what's happening to the typical family when it comes to breakfast? Why aren't we making this a bigger priority in our lives? When most of us think of breakfast, we tend to conjure up images of some throwback to the June Cleaver days where mom (fully dressed and in her pearls, of course) lovingly serves pancakes, bacon and eggs, and freshly squeezed orange juice while dad reads the paper at the table. Look, if that's your reality, I won't knock it but that's not how most of the families I've worked with operate. Who can live up to that image? Not me, that's for sure. And very few people I know are able to manage it either. Today's breakfast reality usually involves a mad dash out the door. What's a busy family to do? Luckily, with a little planning, we have smart (and easy!!) options available! Here are a few great ideas recommended by the AAP:
- Schedule accordingly. Try to build in enough time to allow your child to eat breakfast without pressure. Which is sometimes easier said than done!
- Grab-and-go breakfasts. If you're routinely running out the door with no time to spare in the morning, put together an arsenal of food that can be ready to go on an easy to reach shelf in the refrigerator or on the counter each morning. Examples: hard-boiled eggs, sliced apples, organic muffins, or a bagel with low-fat cream cheese. In the family I work with currently, fresh smoothies are a favorite - sounds complicated but the whole process from start to finish takes about 3 minutes. We throw fresh milk, yogurt, frozen and fresh fruits into a blender for 90 seconds and voila - ready!
- Fix breakfast before bedtime. Have your child’s favorite cold cereal ready the night before (either have the box set out on your kitchen counter or you can even have the dry cereal poured into bowls (covered with lids over night) and sliced fresh fruit in the refrigerator.
- Look for child care and school support. Does your child’s school or child care provider offer breakfast? If so, see what's on the menu - if a balanced breakfast is available, your child may well be more receptive to eating if he's having breakfast with his friends!
- This might sound like a no-brainer but it's crucial: make sure sleep is on the menu. It's important to make sure your child is in bed early enough that she's up early enough the next day to have time for breakfast. I know it's not always easy to stop doing everything else you need to get done each evening but it's doable. And kids who are over-tired tend to be in bad moods, which makes it a heck of a lot harder to get them to sit down and eat a healthy breakfast!
For more excellent information about the importance of eating a healthy breakfast, you can visit the American Academy of Pediatrics' parent-friendly website here: healthychildren.org
Here are two, terrific sites with great (and easy!) make-ahead recipes to try:
Martha Stewart's quick breakfast recipes (I'm all about that parfait!)
Heather's French Press - single serving 90-second muffins in a cup! (so many choices... in 90 seconds!!!!!)
What are your favorite healthy breakfast routine ideas? I'd love to hear about them! Bon appetit and make National School Breakfast Week a great one for your family!
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