As she heads off to school, it's important for your child to have a good breakfast — preferably with a healthy serving of protein. Why? Research shows that children can sustain their attention better when they have a breakfast rich in protein. Protein is essential for attentiveness, concentration and thinking. And a protein-rich breakfast has more staying power than most sugary carbohydrates, which can actually minimize the alertness of the brain.
Breakfast is also an important time for you and your child to sit down and share some time together before school. It doesn't take long to create a feeling of closeness at your shared meal. Use the mealtime to talk about what you are eating and why. It is not too early for your child to learn how foods affect his health and emotions. You might want to point out how a sugary breakfast can actually make him hungry, tired and cranky by lunchtime.
Good Breakfast Choices
Avoid the breakfast rut by alternating a variety of healthy foods. Try:
- Cold cereal (5 grams of fiber or more) with milk and fresh fruit
- Hard boiled eggs
- Plain yogurt with fresh fruit
- Scrambled eggs
- Sliced avocado and half an English muffin (whole grain)
- Fresh fruit smoothies with soy or protein powder
- Whole grain bread with natural peanut butter and all-fruit jelly
Cereal and milk with a piece of fresh fruit is probably the easiest breakfast to serve and one most children will readily eat. Look for cereals that have whole grains, 5 grams or more of fiber, and not too much sugar — try for 8 grams or less per serving.
Juice or Fruit?
Some children like fruit and some like juice. What is the better choice? Interestingly, it is the fruit. The pulp in the fruit takes longer to digest, so its natural sugars do not create a quick spike of energy followed by a crash later in the morning at school. Try to provide fresh fruit to accompany breakfast. Excellent choices are: apples, apricots, cherries, grapes, mangoes, papaya, peaches, pears, and plums.