Healthy Children for Life - Breakfast: Setting Your Child Up for Success
by Linda Miner RNC, CHN, CMTA, www.MyHealthyBalance.com
Imagine building a house without a foundation. It may stay standing for awhile, but eventually it will start to shift and crack and eventually collapse. Starting the day with a healthy breakfast should be considered as important to your body as a solid foundation is to a house. The word breakfast literally means "breaking the fast." After you stop eating in the evening, there is usually about 12 hours until you rise and eat again. Although it is important for your body to rest during the night, it is extremely important to begin nourishing your body once you awaken.
As soon as you eat, your metabolism revs up. The internal organs, including the brain, can perform their respective functions and you have energy to begin your day. On the contrary, if you don't eat, your metabolism is not activated and the body starts to go into starvation mode. The human body has a natural instinct to preserve itself and basic functions begin to slow down as the body responds to a lack of nutrients. By not consuming breakfast, you stress your internal organs, you have trouble concentrating because there is no energy for your brain, and you create a body that is destined to be obese as it learns to hold onto fat due to this perceived famine. Therefore, eating a healthy breakfast is an extremely important habit to teach your children. So what are the best choices for breakfast?
Start with Fruit: A great habit to instill in your children is to have fresh, whole fruit to start the day. Fruit gives you tons of energy, it's full of nutrients and enzymes for digestion and most varieties have a good amount of fibre.
High Quality Carbohydrates: It is very important at every meal to have carbohydrates and protein. Let's start with the carbs. When it comes to bread, insist on multigrain. White bread should be considered a "treat" just like candy. My youngest daughter likes when I make "M&Ms". No, not the chocolate kind. I toast up some sprouted multigrain bread. Then after buttering it, I sprinkle a little cinnamon and evaporated cane juice (i.e. real sugar) on top. Cinnamon is a great blood sugar stabilizer and powerful antioxidant. Then I cut the bread into the letter "M", the first letter of her name. Somehow this makes it taste much more delicious.
Be Cautious with Cereals: Many people ask me about breakfast cereals and instant oatmeal. I am not a fan because most are loaded with sugar, are low in protein and fiber and spike blood sugar levels. Check the glycemic index (GI) and you will see that many cereals have a higher GI and spike blood sugar more than white sugar (http://www.glycemicindex.ca/glycemicindexfoods.pdf). You generally want to eat foods with a glycemic index rating of less than 55. Do not be fooled by advertising that says "whole grain". That still usually just means one grain - NOT multigrain. You want to purchase cereals that have more than one grain. Nature's Path (http://www.naturespath.com), Kashi (http://www.kashi.com) and Bob's Red Mill (http://www.bobsredmill.com) brands have some excellent cereals, but make sure you check the nutrition label. Look for at least 4g of protein and 3g of fiber.
High Quality Protein: Next, I would recommend a good source of protein. Plain, low fat yogurt is great because it is loaded with protein, is an excellent source of calcium, has lots of good bacteria for the intestines and is easy to add flavor to. Stir in the aforementioned fruit, some honey or maple syrup, some chopped up nuts and a high quality granola and you have a very satisfying breakfast. Or make a smoothie with the fruit and yogurt. In my experience, if you give them straws, kids are more likely to drink it. It's all about making it fun. Stay away from presweetened yogurts that are loaded with sugar. One of my daughters' favorite breakfasts is what we call "string cheese egg". I pour egg whites into a fry pan and the girls "string" the part-skimmed mozzarella cheese over the top. I serve it rolled up and they love it. What a great blast of protein
By starting the day right, your kids will be ready to perform their best in school, in sports and in life.
About the Author:
Linda Miner is a Registered Nutritionist specializing in Metabolic Typing. Linda works with clients online to help them restore their health by re-establishing balance in the body. Through one-on-one coaching and an individualized food plan based on your unique characteristics, Linda can help you achieve Optimal Health. Learn more at www.iChange.com and www.MyHealthyBalance.com.
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