By Nadia Guirguis RD, Public Health Dietitian, Fraser Health.
- You gain less weight over time. Children who eat breakfast every day tend to keep within the weight range for their height.
- You’re less likely to crave the treats at coffee time.
- It gives you and your kids the needed nutrition-boost to start your day, especially calcium, Vitamin D, potassium and fibre. For kids: eating breakfast improves school performance including better recall and paying attention in class.
- For adults: you’ll focus and concentrate better at work.
Does time, or more specifically, lack of time stand in your way of making and eating breakfast before you head out the door? Lack of time is a big barrier to breakfast eating. But really, most breakfasts are prepared in less than 5 minutes.
Time Crunch Solution – Plan ahead
Brainstorm and plan ahead a week’s worth of breakfasts with your kids when time isn’t so pressing. In our home we use a small erasable white board for the job. On Saturday mornings right after breakfast, we plan the next week’s 5 days’ worth of breakfasts. We write them on the board and post it on the fridge. Planning ahead has several advantages:
- Organizes your time and focuses the grocery shopping
- Teaches kids about meal planning because the plan is guided by the idea that we are aiming for foods from at least 3 food groups [GN1] out of 4 in the meal. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php
- Avoids arguments in the morning because the family talked about it on planning day
- Speeds up preparation time in the morning
Plan and Prepare Ahead
You will save the most time in the morning by planning and preparing ahead. For example:
- Bake and freeze small whole grain muffins, pancakes and mini frittatas
- Make oatmeal or barley ahead and refrigerate in single portions.
- Wash and cut up fruit; Pre portion yogurt
- Make hard-boiled eggs for breakfast. These can be refrigerated for up to one week.
- Set up the coffee maker
- Put out bowls, plates, glasses and cutlery the night before – even the box of cereal
- Assign age-appropriate jobs to each person. When preparation is shared there is more time for eating and less time preparing breakfast. In our home, one person turns on coffee maker, and pours juice, another person takes yogurt and cut up fruit out of fridge and the third person puts toast or breakfast sandwiches in toaster oven. It takes us 5-7 minutes to get breakfast on the table this way.
Healthy Breakfasts in a Hurry
Healthy breakfasts include: a complex carbohydrate as from whole grains, a protein as from eggs, lentils, cheese, and Greek yogurt and fibre as from fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
Here are some ideas that can be prepared ahead with the final step of reheating or toasting done in the morning:
- Plain oatmeal or barley served with milk, nuts, then topped with fruit
- Pre-made small whole grain tortilla with beans and grated low fat cheese
- Pre-made frozen (or fresh) fruit and plain yogurt smoothie served with a homemade whole grain muffin
- Whole wheat pancakes topped with unsweetened applesauce and a glass of milk
- Mini frittata with whole wheat toast and orange slices
It’s Better if you Eat Together
Children who eat meals with an adult are healthier, learn better, and have better social skills. When you eat together you become a positive role model for your child. As speedy as breakfast is in our home, it still gives us a few moments to connect with one another at the start of our day.
For Grab’n Go Mornings:
Let’s face it, grab’n go mornings happen to all of us. Prepare ahead a healthy grab ‘n go breakfast so you can skip the coffee and pastry shop on the way to work.
Spread some hummus or guacamole on a boiled egg.
Add trail mix into a portion of Greek yogurt
Spread some nut butter onto a small whole grain tortilla
Get the Apps!
For Dietitian-approved recipes, cooking inspiration, nutrition tips, meal planning ideas and so much more get the apps: Cookspiration, EaTipster and EaTracker. All apps are available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the individual app websites.
For more information about nutrition and your child: