Healthy Breakfast for Kids
‘Give your child the start to the day that can help them be successful at school and their activities.’
Breakfast for kids as you probably are aware is one of the key if not the most key meal of your child’s day.. After sleeping all night, a child’s body has been slowly burning energy and growing, helping repair and build new tissue, and lay new bone amongst other processes. When they wake it needs new fuel to continue this process and help them start the day well. One of the biggest problems teachers experience is that sugar high from unhealthy snacks and then the drop off when a child’s focus begins to disappear and their blood sugars drop. Starting with a healthy breakfast, and providing them with healthy snacks and lunches during the school day can help your child’s focus and energy levels to be maintained and remain steady throughout the day, helping to avoid this.
When we ask kids at football trainings what they had for breakfast the overwhelming reply from many fit in to the piece of toast, nothing, or some cereal answer, at least the toast and cereal is something, but nothing is simply not good enough.
It is something we try to help them understand and explain how this will effect them not only on the pitch, but in life as well.
For kids who play sport and are very active its important they keep a variety of healthy foods up, and by starting the day with a good breakfast it sets them up for a success in many ways. A piece of toast with jam is pretty poor nutritionally, but a piece of multi-seeded toast with some avocado, tomatoes and a slice of cheese is a lot better, and will give them longer sustained energy, even the use of a nut butter in this case would be better if they are free from nut allergy’s.
When it comes to cereals it is important to take note of the sugar content simply looking on the back of the packet and noting how much sugar there is can help you make a better decision.
1. As a guideline, 5g of sugar per 100g of cereal is pretty good and should be the benchmark. Where that sugar is coming from is also important, if fruit is included then the sugar is quite possibly from that and not added refined sugar, which for your child is a much better option. Refined sugar is a big no go and should set alarm bells ringing.
2. Take a look at the ingredients, and note which foods appear first in that list. Foods that have the greatest amount present appear first. Comparing that with the sugar content will help give you a general overview of where that sugar is coming from.
Protein based breakfasts such as eggs are a great start to the day, and can be included in many different ways to make them taste different through combining lots of different food options that change the taste. Adding some ham, or a few slices of chicken to the meal really bulks it up, and when combined with something like a toasted slice of rustic bread, some tomatoes or wilted spinach, it will give a nice slow release of energy in to your child’s body and keep their concentration levels up. We highly recommend getting in some breakfasts like this during the week.
Water is by far the winner when it comes to fluids for children and a glass of filtered water with breakfast is much better than many other breakfast style drinks. Giving children a full water bottle for school to sip on through the day is a perfect way of them maintaining hydration and is useful for their sports and activities.
Overall a general mantra should be ‘Variety is Key’, using a varied diet is one of the best ways of avoiding food boredom, taking in nutrients from a variety of different whole food sources, helps with your child’s overall development and exposes them to different healthy foods.
For some great ideas on healthy breakfasts a couple of books we highly recommend for tasty, simple, quick breakfasts (amongst other meals) are the Medicinal Chef series by Dale Pinnock, ‘Eat Your Way to Better Health’ and ‘Healthy Every Day’. another great book for reference is by Glen Matten ‘The 100 Foods You Should Be Eating’.
Jason St Clair Newman. BPhEd, DipSpSt
Physical Preparation Trainer
European Football Academy
Fast Healthy Breakfasts
In the Bowl Porridge
1/4 cup of whole flake porridge soaked overnight in water.
5-6 chopped nuts, walnuts are particularly good (obviously if they have a nut allergy this doesn’t go in.)
Pour in a little hot water to warm it up and let it soak in for 3 minutes.
Add any type of fruit to this, generally thin skinned fruit such as berries are the best, but bananas are a crowd favourite, sultana’s or dates also work.
A Sprinkle of cinnamon (it has been suggested it helps balance blood sugars) & a touch of maple syrup will also win over the toughest kids.
Options – pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, 1/4cup of coconut milk or normal milk are all great options to add to the bowl as well. Seeds should be soaked overnight as well to help wth breakdown during digestion.
Fast Healthy Breakfast
2 Egg Omelette
2 x Free range or organic eggs
5 x cherry tomatoes
Small handful of spinach
Optional (Slice of multi-seed organic bread from the bakery)
Olive oil, salt and pepper.
Cut the tomatoes and put in to small pan on a low heat with a little olive oil, (being careful not to get the oil smoking), and the spinach, and then crack the eggs over top, stir around and let it cook, checking the sides to make sure it doesn’t catch.
Toast the bread if you have it and spread over a teaspoon of avocado.
Pop on to a plate next to the bread and serve it up.
We don’t recommend this as a regular fluid for children as the sugar content in a lot of fruit juices rivals that of soft drinks. You really can’t beat water.
Option 1 Poor
Oat Flakes,Wheat, Bran Flakes, Apple juice, Fructose syrup, Sunflower seeds, Sultana’s, Honey
Option 2 Good
- Adolphus, K., Lawton, C. L., & Dye, L. (2013). The effects of breakfast on behavior and academic performance in children and adolescents. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 425. http://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00425
- Cooper, SB., Bandelow, S., Nevill, ME. (2011). Breakfast consumption and cognitive function in adolescent schoolchildren. Physiological Behaviour, 103(5): 431-439.
- Pivot, RT., Tennal, KB., Chapman, SD. (2012). Eating breakfast enhances the efficiency of neural networks engaged during mental arithmetic in school-aged children. Physiological Behaviour, 106(4):548-555.
Photo Credits: Peter Belch;Tiago Faifa; Andrew Pons.