Wellness: Breakfast for Champions
Breakfast for Champions
How many times have you heard, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day?” The word “breakfast” means breaking the fasting period of the previous night. Whether we are sending our kids off to school or us off to work, starting the day with a healthy breakfast can make a huge difference in performance, moods, and energy levels for the rest of the day.
Here are 4 reasons to inspire you to make healthy breakfasts a priority in your home:
- Breakfast gives you the energy to make good decisions and to be alert.
- Having breakfast is one of the secrets to staying at a healthy weight and having a healthy metabolism. People who skip breakfast are more likely to overeat later in the day.
- Breakfast should ideally be eaten within the first 30 minutes of waking. EXAMPLE: If your kids get up at 6:00 AM for school, breakfast should start about 6:30.
- Having a good breakfast is one of the secrets to longevity, as described in The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. In the Blue Zone areas of the world, the biggest meal of the day is typically eaten during the first half of the day.
The morning meal should give your body AND your brain the energy to feel vibrant, alert, and alive. A healthy breakfast should ideally include some protein (such as eggs, beans, and lentils), dietary fiber (such as steel cut oats, quinoa, and fresh whole fruit), and some healthy fats (such as avocado, olive oil, and nuts). Avoid processed foods, especially those containing refined flour and added sugars such as high fructose corn syrup. The meal should contain foods that will not cause your blood glucose and insulin levels to spike excessively high. After all, what goes up must come down. If kids eat highly processed carbohydrates for breakfast, such as Honeybuns, Sugar Smacks, Fruit Loops, or instant oatmeal, they become little yo-yos of human energy. Extreme highs and lows in blood sugar have been shown to lead to overeating, bad moods, and lack of focus.
Here’s one of my favorite ideas to make with kids in our cooking classes: scramble an egg in a little coconut oil, slice up % of a ripe avocado, squeeze a little lime on the avocado, and wrap it all in a gluten-free tortilla (my favorites are made by Toufayan Bakeries). If you have any roasted sweet potatoes leftover from dinner the night before, you can add a little when you scramble the egg! All kids love to create their own wraps!
Ask your kids to help make the Monday morning meal on Sunday night by using your crock pot to cook steel cut oats. Steel cut oats are less processed than rolled oats and have a higher nutritional value. Use a ratio of 1 part steel cut oats to 4 parts water (or follow the directions on the package) and let your crock pot make the food while you sleep. Place steel cut oats, water, and a pinch of salt in the crock pot and cook on low for 7-8hours. TIP: Let the kids prepare their own small containers with their favorite toppings to add to the cooked oats in the morning, along with a splash of nut milk.
Here are some suggestions:
- chopped pecans or walnuts
- dried fruit such as raisins, craisins, or cherries
- ground flax seeds or chia seeds
- fresh fruit such as sliced banana, peaches, or strawberries
- local honey or chopped dates (for a little natural sweetener)
Here are more delicious breakfast ideas:
- Scrambled or hard-boiled eggs and fresh, seasonal fruit
- Mexican Breakfast Bowls: pinto or black beans, cheddar or soy cheese, avocado, fresh lime juice, and your favorite salsa
- Cooked quinoa (I always cook extra for dinner so I have leftovers for breakfast) with nut milk, cinnamon and raisins
- Breakfast burritos: gluten-free tortillas, leftover black beans, grated cheese, lettuce and tomatoes
- 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt and your kids’ favorite fresh or frozen whole fruit, topped with granola
Kids need a good breakfast to power their minds for learning and to provide long-lasting energy for strong bodies. Using these easy and delicious breakfast ideas, your kids will be more focused at school, stay at a healthy weight and learn that everyone is a champion when they start the day with a healthy breakfast!
Nancy L. Heinrich, M.P.H., is an epidemiologist, diabetes educator, author, and parent. She is the manager of the Supported Employment Program at The Arc of Indian River County and developed the SURF program (Students Unleashing Rewarding Futures) for youth in transition.
- Do You Struggle With Planning Healthy Meals for Your Family?
- Where to Purchase Gluten Free Casein Free (GFCF) Foods and Some Favorite Brands
- Dinner’s On: How to Cook Once and Feed All Eaters
- Benefits of Special Diets for Special Needs Children
- Staying Healthy Where And What Should We Eat?
- Starting off the New Year with New Food Choices
- Traveling with Special Dietary Need
- What to Make of Portions and Serving Sizes?
- Healthy Eating Options for Fueling Your Child
- Focus on Color
- Benefits of Fiber
- Nutrition Myths Debunked
- Clean up What You Eat
- Health & Nutrition Apps for Family Fun
- Special Diets for a Variety of Disabilities & Disorders
- GFCF/Chemical Free Holiday Breakfast or Brunch
- Cooking With Kids: Spooktacular BOO BARK Breakfast Yogurt
This post originally appeared on our September/October 2016 Magazine