I know, I know – August just began, don’t start the back to school stuff already! But it never hurts to plan ahead. Plus, a great breakfast is just as essential for fueling your kids for a day at the beach as a long day at school!
Here’s Natalie with her best breakfast ideas and why we should all be eating them.
Everyone says breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but is it really all that important?
I’m not here to guilt you into making a full breakfast spread every day before school; that’s definitely not realistic for most of us parents.
Still – I think it’s worth the time to explore why a quality breakfast can give our kids the best start to their school day (and any other day, really!).
What makes a “good” breakfast?
- Protein. We’re talking about the building blocks of life, here! Protein aids in the growth of our bones, skin, muscles, cartilage, enzymes and hormones. Our kids are constantly growing, and protein is what makes that happen. Most proteins are sources of B vitamins, Iron, Magnesium, Zinc and other vital nutrients. Try pastured or grass-fed beef, eggs, nuts and seafood (if you can handle it first thing in the morning!)
- Healthy Fats. Fat used to be very taboo in American culture, but it’s becoming more mainstream to appreciate the benefits of fat for our health. Your brain is made of cholesterol and fat, and the essential fatty acids we eat help to improve brain function. Be careful choosing, though- stay away from manufactured or refined fats and vegetable oils. Try coconut oil, grass-fed butter, avocado and nuts/nut butter.
- Complex Carbs. Complex carbs are broken down slowly by our bodies, which helps keep us full. That means our kids won’t be bothered by a growling tummy during a mid-morning test. They are also a main source of fuel for our body and brain functions- that means no mid-morning energy slump, either. Try whole grains and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and other root vegetables.
- Avoiding Sugar, Refined Carbs and Packaged Foods. These foods will drag you down. Sugar is your enemy when it comes to concentration- it’s known to cause brain-fog, hyperactivity and more. Combining sugar and refined carbs will ensure your kid is hungry before noon, can’t sit still or can’t concentrate. Let’s give our kids the best start we can and avoid these foods!
- Veggies. It’s easy to focus on fruits for breakfast instead of veggies, but they are full of vitamins and minerals that are essential for brain function and energy. Bonus points for leafy greens! Try adding sliced tomatoes or cucumbers to any breakfast plate, make a veggie scramble or omelette or add veggies into your smoothies.
Why take the extra time? How will our kids benefit from this kind of meal?
- Energy Boost. If your kids are not morning-people, a nutritious breakfast will help them to get the energy they need to start the day.
- Better Concentration. Good fats (Omega-3s!) will help their brains to perform at the highest level they can.
- Better Grades. Better concentration means more information is absorbed, and that can certainly transfer to better grades.
- Healthy Weight Management. Struggles with body image can start at a young age. We can help our children to have a positive outlook on their bodies by treating and feeding them well.
- Avoid Starvation Mode. Skipping breakfast after a night of sleep means their little bodies will really be running on empty until the next meal. Even a small breakfast will help keep starvation at bay.
How can we manage this when we’re running late or feeling tired?
- Plan ahead. You can plan for a full week of breakfasts or plan the night before for the next day. With all the things that need to happen on a busy morning, having breakfast already planned is a smart move.
- Grab-and-go. Eating on the bus or in the car isn’t the best for our bodies, but it’s better than eating nothing at all. When it’s possible, sit down to breakfast as a family, but if you can’t, then have some healthy grab-and-go options on hand.
Now let’s get to some breakfast staples:
- Eggs. These are a classic and very versatile breakfast choice. Try a simple scramble with veggies, an omelette or eggs over easy with some protein on the side. If you’re short on time, you can make-ahead some hard-boiled eggs, a fritatta or an egg casserole and eat it throughout the week.
- Yogurt. This is a quick and easy choice. Simply top with fruit and nuts or use yogurt in a smoothie.
- Oatmeal. Oats are a filling way to start the morning. Stay away from the instant packets and try one of our 5 make-ahead oatmeal recipes!
- Make-ahead Pancakes or Waffles. Make a double or triple batch of your favorite pancakes or waffles during the weekend and then pop them in the freezer to pull out throughout the week. Doesn’t take much extra effort on your part and it’s much healthier than the frozen brands. Try topping them with nut butter and fruit and skip the syrup!
- Smoothies and Juice. These are a great choice to pack in the nutrients when you’re short on time. Check out this post for some inspiration and this one, too!
Want ideas on what to feed the kids the rest of the day? Check out, The Best Foods for Fueling Your Kids’ Minds and Bodies.