10 healthy breakfast ideas for children (and you)

  • Breakfast is regarded as the most important meal of the day by dietary experts
  • With our rushed lifestyles, we tend to neglect this meal
  • Breakfast is especially important for developing children

Early mornings are a rush for most families. Breakfast might not be a priority as the focus is on getting to work and school on time, without looking like you just crawled out of bed.  

We hear all the time that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But why exactly is that? 

Improved concentration

Eating breakfast has been shown to improve cognitive performance in both children and adults. 

Concentration and the ability to stay focused are critical for optimal performance. A research study reported that more than half of all teenagers in the US skip breakfast at least three times a week – which has been related to slower memory recall and suboptimal performance. 

It is important for you as a parent to lead by example and eat a healthy breakfast with your children. They will then learn this from a young age, and you'll reap the benefits as well.

A healthy body weight

Studies have shown that people who regularly eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight or obese.

When you skip breakfast, your blood sugar levels may drop by mid-morning and you'll crave something sugary and starchy. You may end up snacking on foods such as muffins, crisps, croissants, toasted sandwiches or sugary drinks such as hot chocolate, sweetened coffee, cappuccinos or fizzy drinks. 

These refined carbohydrates may sort out your energy levels for an hour or so but will soon leave you feeling worse than before: tired, lethargic, cranky, and wanting another “pick-me-up” snack. By the end of the day, you will have consumed far too many kilojoules, without getting a good balance of high fibre, nutrient-dense carbohydrates, protein and fat.    

Increased intake of essential nutrients 

A healthy breakfast could provide 30% of your daily essential nutrients.

These essential nutrients are: fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. An adequate fibre intake is vital for keeping your bowels regular, and fibre also acts as food for the billions of bacteria in your gut. They produce substances now identified to protect you, reducing your risk of chronic lifestyle diseases, such as obesity and heart disease. 

What is a nutritionally balanced breakfast?

A healthy breakfast should consist of unrefined carbohydrates and/or fruit, lean protein, and unsaturated fats.  Steer clear from sugary, refined breakfast cereals; pastries; refined breads; and adding sugar or honey to your cereals. Below are some healthy breakfast ideas for you and your children.

Healthy Breakfast Options:

Portion sizes may vary depending on the nutritional requirements of the individual. A dietitian can help calculate appropriate portion sizes for individual needs.

Option 1: High-fibre cereal 

½ cup bran flakes

½ cup sliced strawberries

½ cup low-fat milk

2 teaspoons shaved and toasted almonds

Option 2: Cooked oats

½ cup cooked rolled oats

1 grated apple

2 teaspoons pumpkin seeds

Use 1 cup of low-fat milk to cook oats (i.e. use one-part milk, one-part water)

A sprinkle of cinnamon for flavour

Option 3: Muesli-and-fruit bowl

½ cup sugar-free muesli

½ cup fruit salad

½ cup low-fat plain yoghurt

Option 4: Poached egg on toast

1 poached egg

1 slice seeded bread, toasted, spread with ¼ avocado 

Add grilled tomato and mushrooms.

Option 5: Cottage cheese on rye bread 

1 slice rye bread

? cup low fat chunky cottage cheese

¼ sliced avocado

Option 6: A cracker breakfast

2 Ryvitas (or high-fibre crackers)

2 tablespoons hummus

Sliced tomato and cucumber

 Option 7: Berry smoothie:

Blend together:

1 cup frozen berries

1 cup low-fat yoghurt and ice

1 tablespoon chia seeds

Option 8: Nutty banana smoothie:

Blend together:

1 large banana

3 tablespoons oat bran

1 cup low-fat milk and ice

1 tablespoon sugar-free peanut butter           

Option 9: Overnight oats (saves time in the morning)

Mix together in a bowl:

40g raw oats

3 chopped dates

1 tablespoon chia seeds

A dash of cinnamon

1 cup low-fat milk

Allow to soak overnight in the fridge and enjoy in the morning.

Option 10: Flapjack

Mix in a bowl:

40g raw oats

1 mashed banana

1 egg

2 tablespoons low-fat milk

A dash of cinnamon

Fry in a non-stick pan and serve with 2 tablespoons low-fat yoghurt and a few fresh berries.

A healthy breakfast sets the tone for the day. Wake up ten minutes earlier to incorporate an easy and substantial breakfast. This will help you and your children to perform smarter at work and school and result in a healthier family in the long run.

Let the team of registered dietitians at Nutritional Solutions help you make healthier decisions. Our dietitians pride themselves in offering expert nutritional advice founded on evidence-based practices. Go to www.nutritionalsolutions.co.za for more information.

Image credit: Getty Images 

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