Children today are skipping breakfast because they sometimes don’t feel like eating in the morning or they feel too rushed before school. Most children don’t get in all the nutrients they need by simply eating only lunch and dinner. Therefore BREAKFAST is one of the most important meals of the day.

Children’s growing bodies need the nutrients and fuel for daily activities and concentration. In the morning, children’s bodies need to refuel for the day ahead especially after going without food for 8 to 12 hours during sleep. Their mood and energy can drop by midmorning if they don’t eat at least a small morning meal.

Children who tend to skip breakfast have a harder time focusing and they become more tired during the school day. They can also become cranky and restless. This doesn’t only influence their mood but also their performance at school and other daily activities.

Children who don’t eat breakfast are also more likely to eat junk food during the day. This can be due to drop in blood sugar causing them to reach out to unhealthy food or possibly overeat the rest of the day. Eventually this vicious cycle can result in your child becoming overweight or even obese.

A calm and healthy balanced breakfast every day can be one of the factors to prevent this from happening. Breakfast also helps kick-starts the body’s metabolism (the process by which the body converts the fuel in food to energy). It also helps children to get into good habits that they can carry through life.

Here are some quick and easy breakfast ideas:

• Wholegrain cereal (example All Bran Flakes) with milk, yogurt and/fruit
• Toast (brown/wholegrain) with a slice of cheese or an egg
• Cooked porridge (example oats) with milk and fruit
• Fresh fruit and yogurt
• Toast (brown/wholegrain) with peanut butter (no added salt & sugar)
• Omelet with ham and tomatoes
• Bran muffin (containing minimal sugar) with cheese

It is also important to have healthy drinks with breakfast. Water or low fat milk (for children over 2 years) is best. Try to limit fruit juice to 1/2 a glass a day as fruit juice contains lots of natural sugar. Avoid all sugar containing cool-drinks as much as possible. Instead give a piece of fruit to your child to get fiber into their diet.

Handy tips:
• If your child doesn’t want to eat in the morning at home, pack something they can have on the way to school. It only takes a few minutes to put a slice of cheese between two slices of whole grain bread.
• Discourage your child from eating breakfast in front of the television. This can also help speed up your morning routines.
• Try to make breakfast exciting by playing around with different shape, sizes and colors of food. Also play around with how you serve breakfast by using different bowls and plates as well as presenting it in a fun manner.

• Try to plan your breakfast ideas ahead and if possible prepare some of the food in advance (example boiling eggs the night before).

• Try our Oliela nutri-shake (available at the clinic) in the morning if your child is struggling to eat something. It will help create the habit of having something before leaving for school.

For more information contact the Dietitians at Easy Health Wellness at 012 997 2783 or or follow us on facebook

Written by Monika Nieuwoudt (Dietitian for Easy Health Wellness)