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Bringing Your “A” Game to Breakfast

Breakfast is widely agreed to be the most important meal of the day, yet it’s the least-often consumed meal. And when we do eat it, it’s safe to say that most of us put less thought and effort into it than we do our other meals.

While the dietitian in me knows a million reasons why breakfast is so important (keep reading), the mom in me is often guilty of scrambling to whip together a morning meal that ends up being sub-par on the nutritional scale. In being brutally honest with myself (and now with you), I’m full of lame excuses…

Mornings are too busy…It’s more important that my kids eat something, even if it’s only half-healthy, rather than nothing at all….I can’t stand whining before 8:00 a.m…..It’s such a waste when they refuse to eat what I’ve made…Those sweet carbs they like do taste pretty darn good…

Sound familiar?

But the truth is, all of these excuses are manageable, especially for a meal that really is the most important of the day.

The Benefits of Breakfast
When you look at the research on the benefits of breakfast, it seems the list is almost never-ending. Studies have shown that eating breakfast can help kids:

  • improve math, reading and standardized test scores;
  • improve memory and problem-solving skills;
  • behave better;
  • have fewer absences and tardiness from school;
  • get along better with their peers;
  • get more total nutrients in their daily diet; and
  • maintain a healthy weight.

In other words, kids who eat breakfast are better able to bring their A-game to the rest of their day. So if one of your parenting goals is to raise a happy, healthy productive child, breakfast certainly is worth a little effort and planning.

So while not all of my family’s breakfasts are perfect, I’m always striving to do better. Here are some strategies that I use to help make breakfast time as easy and as healthful as possible.

4 Simple Ways to Bring Your A-Game to the Breakfast Table

1. Make protein a focal point of your meal. It’s pretty easy to get enough fiber at breakfast, but most of us don’t eat nearly enough protein in the morning. Protein for breakfast is important because it helps your kids stay energized and focused until lunch and it can even help with weight management. Some great options for breakfast are eggs, Greek yogurt or a breakfast quinoa bowl.

2. Plan ahead. Even the simplest of meals are more likely to make it to the table if you make them the night before. One of my favorite breakfasts is a Greek yogurt parfait. Even though it takes just one minute to whip together, we are much more likely to eat it if I’ve at least pre-sliced some fruit the night before.

3. Have a few S.O.S. options in your pantry. I’m a big fan of sitting down to eat meals, but It’s always smart to have a few portable options ready for those extra-hairy mornings. I like homemade single servings of dried fruit and nuts with a small hunk of cheese or homemade breakfast bars like homemade “Lara” bars.

Mixed nuts and cheese

4. Involve your kids. It’s no secret that kids are more likely to eat what they help prepare. Plus, you shouldn’t be stuck making breakfast solo day after day. My three-year-old loves the simple act of getting food out of the fridge. And he practically does cartwheels when we have enough time for him to make his own yogurt parfait. His handy-work isn’t necessarily Pinterest-worthy, but I love that he’s learning about meal composition (e.g. dairy + fruit + grain), while my Occupational Therapy friends rave about the motor skills that kids can learn in the kitchen.

SONY DSC

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