Why is a Healthy Start Important For Kids?
Giving your child a healthy start to the day is very important, and will improve their physical and cognitive development and encourage life-long habits of eating healthy.
Your child is still growing and giving them a healthy portion of carbohydrates and fats will help them sustain energy throughout the day. Protein is really important for muscle growth, and vitamins and minerals support their rapid physical growth and development.
Nutrition also impacts your child’s learning at school. Research shows how important breakfast is when it comes to daily productivity. A balanced meal in the morning provides energy and strengthens cognitive connections. Understanding what foods are not the best is as important as knowing the right ones.
Foods To Avoid for Kids
It is sometimes easier to give into your child’s desire for unhealthy food. However, letting your child choose what foods they should have will almost always result in poor choices. Remember that you are shaping your child’s preferences.
Avoid prepackaged breakfast foods, even though they are easier to prepare in the morning. These foods, like sugary cereal boxes and inexpensive pastries, are high in sugar, salt, and processed grains, meaning empty calories. These are not good options even though they may taste delicious! Other examples of prepackaged, breakfast foods include instant oatmeals, pre-made breakfast drinks and frozen breakfast sandwiches. We certainly need calories to sustain us throughout the day, but empty calories do not give our body the right type of energy and nutrients.
Tips To Help Your Child Develop Healthy Eating Habits
Involve Kids in Meal Planning
Sit down with your child and talk about what foods they like and create a healthy breakfast menu for the week together. This takes the stress off of coming up with healthy alternatives each day and puts a plan in place for you and your child to follow through with.
Cook & Prepare Food Together
Come up with ways that you can make these foods together. If they like foods like frozen egg sandwiches or cereal boxes for breakfast, try finding tasty alternatives like frying an egg and a piece of turkey and putting it between whole wheat bread or using whole ingredients for a cereal like fruits and granola. In fact, cooking at home does not mean it always has to be fresh – make your own breakfast sandwiches in bulk and freeze them. They are guaranteed to be tastier (and more nutritious) than any box you can pick up at the grocery store.
Make it Fun!
Try turning bland and boring looking breakfast items into fun creations. Add colours by using berries to create fun pictures such as smiley faces or shapes. Children love to help with this process!
Easy Breakfast Ideas For Kids
There are lots of easy breakfast ideas for kids that you can start preparing in your home. The best way to ensure your child is eating a healthy breakfast is to ensure that you are mostly using natural, whole ingredients. This means that the food is unprocessed and is not something that can be eaten out of a box or a package. When we talk of whole foods we think of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, etc. Whole foods are foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. Some easy breakfast ideas for kids that you can implement now using whole foods could include:
- Delicious fruit smoothies with a yoghurt or other dairy base (minus the added sugar)
- Creamy oatmeal using steel cut or rolled oats and berries on top
- Yoghurt Sundaes using granola, seeds, and fruits
- Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes (opt for honey as a topping)
- Egg Frittata with Sauteed Veggies
- Fruit & Hempseed Muesli
New to Cooking?
As a new mother, I quickly realized my old habits of grabbing convenience foods and eating on the go wasn’t going to work for my growing family. I identified health issues in my son that I thought were diet related, and started exploring healthier options and cooking with whole foods.
Luckily, shifting our eating habits made all the difference with my son, who is now 6 and in good health.
If you too are wanting to make this shift for your family, and don’t know where to start, join one of my cooking classes. We are featuring a new class all about cooking healthy breakfasts and snack items for kids, starting with whole food ingredients. We know how busy your schedule is as mom, so we’ve tailored this class to providing nutritious meals in as few steps as possible, and preparing snacks that are easy to keep in the freezer to send along with your child to school or grab on the way to a sporting event.
Learn more about Ankita’s Home Cooking classes here.