With kids back in school, members of Kellogg's Breakfast Council, made up of external advisors who are nutrition and breakfast experts, gathered to discuss the importance of forming good habits as part of the new school year routine. Here, Susan S., a Nutritionist at Rutgers University, Sylvia K., a Food and Culinary Consultant for Hispanic Food Communications, Inc., and Dayle H., President of Nutrition for the Future, Inc., share tips to help with rushed mornings and picky eaters, and why a good breakfast is the best way to start your day.
Why is it important to start off the new school year with good habits?
SUSAN: We want our children to be prepared in every way to be successful academically. This includes a healthy diet to ensure that they have the energy to get through the day, which fosters a higher attention span, among other things. Starting this positive behavior at the beginning of the school year enforces a positive dietary behavior and or promotes a positive behavior change.
SYLVIA: Kids actually like some structure and organization in their life and what a better time to start them in the right path at the beginning of the school year.
Why do you think so many kids and adults skip breakfast?
SUSAN: It has a lot to do with planning and time. Most households have working parents and managing the family schedule to ensure time for a good breakfast is built into the day has been a barrier.
DAYLE: The issue is about time and making choices about how to spend it. Teens and some adults also say that they are ‘not hungry in the morning.’ This may have a physiological basis for youth – the solution in some high school nutrition programs is a second-chance breakfast after first period. When teen brains wake up around 9 AM or so, they tend to be hungry. However, breakfast is also a habit – one that can be learned in childhood and practiced throughout adulthood – with many benefits.
What type of breakfast is best to make in the mornings?
DAYLE: In my opinion, there is no perfect breakfast – and, especially for young children, almost any breakfast from the basic MyPlate food groups (grains, protein, fruits, vegetables and dairy) is better than no breakfast. That being said, the best breakfast are ones that contain some carbohydrates, like grains for energy, some protein like dairy for muscles, and some fruits/vegetables for general health and wellness.
SYLVIA: The best breakfast have a variety of foods. Try to include foods from at least 3 food groups. For example, a high fiber cereal served with low fat milk and sliced bananas is a great and easy combination.
Isn't cereal and milk old fashioned though? What about protein?
SYLVIA: Cereal and milk are still a great option for busy families trying to provide a nutritious breakfast to their kids. Now more than ever parents should incorporate cereal into their everyday routines, especially when they are short of time. The key is to offer variety. Different foods most days of the week will assure families they are getting a variety of nutrients.
DAYLE: A quality breakfast isn’t complicated. For example,
- A simple breakfast of cereal with non-fat milk delivers an array of essential nutrients for only about 150 calories per serving (average, depends on cereal).
- Cereal with milk or yogurt provides all four nutrients that are most likely to be lacking for both children and adults – fiber, calcium, potassium and vitamin D.
- Add a serving of fresh or dried fruit to your breakfast bowl (or a cup of 100% fruit juice beside it) and you get even more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- 95% of Americans do not eat enough fiber. Choose a cereal with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving and add a handful of nuts to up your daily intake.
How do you keep breakfast interesting for picky eaters?
SUSAN: Use the foods that they are willing to eat and incorporate new ways of preparation or add a new food item to accompany it.
SYLVIA: Anything is better than nothing! Try simple recipes that you may be able to set up or prepare the night before. Chop fruits ahead of time and place them in containers or use frozen fruits to make smoothies. The options are endless for easy, fast, and healthy breakfast
What about cereal as an after school snack?
DAYLE: Cereal, milk and fruit make a great after-school snack. It is convenient and children can safely make it for themselves. It is also popular and a nutritious-combo that’s hard to beat at the cost. If it works at breakfast, it works in the afternoon as well.