With the first day of school right around the corner on Sept. 5, it’s time for parents to start brainstorming about healthy meal ideas for breakfast that won’t break the bank.
The American Academy of Pediatrics notes, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day and will allow kids to maintain better focus throughout the day.”
For breakfast eaters, great—but what about non-breakfast eaters?
Alanna Levine, a pediatrician at Orangetown Pediatric Associates, believes “children should start their day with a healthy breakfast because it will give them energy and will help them perform better in school.”
Through her practice in Orangetown, Levine has learned that when children have a nutritional breakfast, it gives them the proper ingredients to nourish the body.
“Children who don't eat breakfast will have a harder time getting all the recommended vitamins and minerals,” she said. “They will also have less energy and ability to concentrate during the day.”
If a child has a well-balanced nutritional breakfast, they are more likely to have more energy and a regulated blood sugar throughout the day, will be in a better mood and will be able to concentrate better in school, she added.
But if you’re on the go and don’t have time for a full-blown meal, it doesn’t mean you should go to the quick and easy Pop Tarts or granola bars—which are essentially candy bars.
“Every meal should contain some protein, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and dairy,” Levine said. She recommends a vegetable omelet with a piece of whole grain toast, strawberries, and a glass of milk. A breakfast that Levine makes in her home is fruit smoothies with skim milk and peanut butter. “It’s filling and nutritious,” said Levine.
If your child is a picky eater, take the time to educate them about how eating breakfast can improve their day because it fuels their body and brain. “I have found that the best way to get a child to eat is to empower them to make the choices,” Levine said. “Bring them with you to the grocery store, let them help plan the menu for the week…avoiding the power struggle goes a long way to getting kids to eat what they are served.”
When you’re in the grocery store, be mindful of the ingredients and nutritional facts that are on the products you are buying. Avoid buying any items with high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oil, or products with artificial sweeteners.