Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for kids!

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I have vivid memories of sitting at the breakfast table, staring at a bowl of oatmeal, while my mother threatened: “You have to eat your oatmeal before you leave for school.” “When I’m in charge of my life,” I remember thinking, “I will NEVER AGAIN eat breafast!” Little did I realize then how much my mother know about nutrition. The facts about the importance of eating breakfast–even after all of these years–are indisputable. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Kids who eat breakfast tend to eat healthier overall and are more likely to participate in physical activities. In the morning kids’ bodies need to refuel for the day after going without food for 8-12 hours. Skipping breakfast makes kids feel tired, restless, or irritable. And, their mood and energy can drop by midmorning if they don’t eat at least a small morning meal.

2. Breakfast can help keep kids’ weight in check. Breakfast kick starts the body’s metabolism–the process by which the body converts the fuel in food to energy. When the metabolism gets moving, the body starts burning calories. People who don’t eat breakfat often consume more calories throughout the day and are more likely to be overweight.

3. Choosing breakfast foods that are rich in whole grains, fiber and protein while low in added sugar can boost kids’ attention span, concentration, and memory, which they need to learn in school. Cream of the West whole grain prducts, we’re happy to say, fit all of these nutritional requirements. To see what I mean, check the Cream of the West products list.

While it would be great to serve 7-grain Cream of the West buttermilk flapjacks, fresh fruit and low-fat milk each morning, it’s difficult to make a healthy breakfast happen when you’re rushing to get yourself and the kids out the door. Here are some practical suggestions to ensure that–even in a rush–your kids get a good breakfast:
1. Stock your kitchen with healthy breakfast options. Hint: Cream of the West whole grain hot cereals are a nutritious, economical choice.
2. Prepare as much as you can the night before. For example, presoak Cream of the West Roasted Ranch Oats. Bring them to a boil the next morning and simmer for 4 minutes for an old-fashioned creamy oatmeal. Roasted Wheat and 7-Grain cook up in 4-5 minutes right out of the box.
3. Get everyone up 10 minutes earlier.
4. Let the kids help plan and prepare breakfast.
5. Have a grab-and-go alternative (fresh fruit, yogurt, Montana Crunch) on days when there is little or no time to eat.

What NOT to serve for breakfast is important too. READ THE NUTRITIONAL LABELS OF PRODUCTS CAREFULLY before you toss ‘too easy’ breakfast items, like toaster pastries or breakfast bars, in your shopping cart. They will not solve your problem. Many have no more nutritional value than a candy bar and are high in sugar.
Adapted from an article in Gallatin Gateway School Newspaper, February 2010.

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