Top 3 tips to get kids to eat a healthy breakfast
We all go big when it comes to Christmas food, but for wee ones it is even more important to start the day with a filling, healthy breakfast instead of heading straight to the sweetie box.
Specialist paediatric dietitian Lucy Upton has warned that children skipping the first meal of the day are missing out on huge nutritional, energy boosting and even academic benefits.
A survey of 2000 parents by Flora found that nearly two-thirds of children regularly skip breakfast, and when they do eat in the morning, the majority guzzle unhealthy sugary cereals or toast with a high-sugar topping.
Worryingly, up to one in 20 kids start their day with crisps.
Upton says: “Breakfast offers parents an opportunity to get in key nutrients essential for a child’s health, growth and development.
“Some studies suggest children who regularly consume breakfast achieve a better intake of certain vitamins and minerals and are more likely to maintain a healthy weight overall.
“Eating a balanced breakfast offers an opportunity to boost alertness, attention span, memory and mood.
“This is important not only for a child’s education but social skills, development and emotion management.”
Here, Upton gives some top tips on how to get children to eat breakfast, and what they should be eating to make it healthy and delicious.
1. Preparation is key
Prepare quick, balanced and easy breakfast options. This could range from a variety of cereals available in the cupboard, to pre-prepared breakfast muffins, overnight oats, pancakes, smoothies or toast toppings such as boiled eggs – all ready to go. The easier it is to offer during the busy morning routine, the more likely it is to happen.
2. Set aside time for breakfast – ideally together
Make breakfast a clear and anticipated part of your child’s routine (even if this means 10 minutes less in bed), and wherever possible eat with them.
Leading by example and parental role modelling of eating behaviours has been shown to increase a child’s interest in food, enjoyment of foods and reduce fussiness.
3. Sugar swaps
Children’s sugar intake is very much on the public health agenda and many parents worry their child is eating too much of it, so it can be helpful to see where higher sugar foods might be creeping into your family’s breakfast.
Try some straightforward swaps such as: if your child prefers a sugar-coated cereal, try initially mixing it 50/50 with a lower sugar alternative, eventually switching over completely; swap sugar-packed chocolate or biscuit toast spreads for cream cheese, hummus or nut butters, adding slices of fresh fruit for extra nutrients and natural sweetness.