By Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD
What did your kids have for breakfast this morning? Lots of kids will skip breakfast just to catch a few extra minutes of sleep, or grab something quick to eat along the way.
But more and more evidence is telling us breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. The right foods keep us going physically and mentally, and kids need healthy carbs. for energy and ample protein to keep them mentally alert. The other thing is that breakfast usually features foods we might not get the rest of the day - like fresh fruit, high fiber cereals and calcium-rich dairy products.
If your kids swing through the drive-through on the way to school, you might want to think twice. A sausage-and-egg breakfast sandwich can have as much as 600 calories and contains almost three tablespoons of grease.
Healthy-sounding cereal bars are more like oversized cookie bars - and they don't have anything close to what kids would get from a bowl of whole grain cereal with milk and fruit on top. Most have almost no protein, so kids will be starving well before lunch. If you find bars convenient, then look for ones that have at least 10 grams of protein, and offer kids a glass of milk and some fruit on the side.
Kids of all ages are becoming coffee-house fanatics, but some of these drinks can have hundreds of calories, since they're sweet and often topped with whipped cream. Couple one of these with a muffin the size of a softball, and your child could be eating more than half their calorie needs for the day. Many coffee places have instant oatmeal cups, fresh fruit, and yogurt which make healthier choices instead of high calorie drinks.
Kids need a good shot of protein in the morning -milk, soy milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, protein powders and eggs are all great foods that can fill the bill. Then you just need to round out the meal with some filling fruit, and some whole grain cereal or toast.
The quickest thing to make in the morning is a protein shake made from milk, protein powder and fresh or frozen fruit. Kids can sip them on their way to school and they'll be getting a full serving of milk and fruit, and as much protein as a chicken breast. Or send them off with a carton of nonfat yogurt or a stick of string cheese and a piece of fruit.