You’ve heard it said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you have kids, I’d say that’s true for them. Getting a healthy meal in before asking them to (most likely) sit in a chair all day and focus is key.
What is a Healthy Breakfast
I just dropped my daughter off at school this morning, and not twenty seconds later she had procured a cracker. Mind you, I fed her breakfast. Or I tried. A good balance of protein, healthy fats, and some fruit. She refused the protein. This is typical behavior on a school day. At two years old she already knows that if she refuses breakfast long enough, we will eventually leave the house and she’ll get a snack at school.
Like many who grew up in the U.S., I’ve had my share of food related issues. I always told myself that if I had kids, I would do my best to help them make better decisions about food. But how do I explain to my kid that donuts, cereal, pop tarts, crackers, and yogurt with added sugar are bad for you without making her teachers, friends, and other parents look bad? We have the option to send whatever foods we want with our kids. We’re told to bring snacks that our kids will eat. Which means every kid is sitting at the same table, but possibly eating different things. The peer pressure in preschool is REAL!
Every morning I walk by lockers filled with sandwich crackers, mini donuts, pop tarts, and cookies that have been marketed as breakfast biscuits.
Hidden Sugar is Everywhere
I get it. I do. Kids need to eat. You’re busy. You look like a jerk if you send broccoli that you kid has no intention of eating while all her friends get fruit snacks. But it’s not just kids. Look at this survey. Over half a million adults took the time to cast their vote for their favorite cereal.
Adults have been setting a poor example for years.
Don’t get me wrong, cereal is delicious. But it’s not food. I don't care how it’s packaged, or what it says it will do for you. It’s sugar and sugar is a drug. A highly addictive drug that most people will be hard pressed to find even one friend that won’t encourage it’s consumption at least occasionally. (Myself included. I spent most of my adult life making birthday cakes for a living.)
Never letting your kids have sugar is pretty much impossible. And I’m not sure it would help in the long term when they find themselves having to make decisions when you and your carefully planned snacks aren’t around.
A Way Forward
But we need to start somewhere. Let’s take a few minutes on the weekend to chop up enough onions, peppers, mushrooms, olives, taco meat, leftover chicken, etc. to get you through the next week. Get up ten minutes earlier and make omelettes. (Or scrambles, if your omelettes look like mine.) Buy a little fruit. Real fruit. Whole fruit. Not from a can. Add some almonds to their plate, and they’re fueled for the morning.
Give your kids time to adjust to a real breakfast. It might take time. My kid refuses eggs some days, and asks for two on others. Keep trying. It’s worth it. Let’s fix breakfast. Tomorrow we can deal with lunch.