The new school year is off and running, but before your children run out the door, it's more important than ever to make sure they've started their day with a good breakfast.
According to a 2017 study by stateofobesity.org, a website that tracks obesity according to age and demographics, 13.9 percent of children ages 2-5, 18.4 percent of children 6-11 and 20.6 percent of youths 12-19 are obese. That hits a wide swath of children, so if your young ones have weight issues, don't think they'll outgrow it. They might just grow into it. Seven of the 10 states with the highest rates of childhood obesity are in the South, with Tennessee leading the way for 10- to 17-year-olds.
"There are studies that, unfortunately, show that many children skip breakfast most mornings. This can lead to unhealthy eating habits later in life, behavioral issues, risk for overweight and obesity, and poor academic performance," says Danielle Townsend, a registered dietitian with Primary Healthcare Centers.
Many times, breakfast consists of nothing more than simple carbohydrates, such as freezer pancakes, sugary cereals, toaster pastries and all other processed foods that are digested very quickly and can lead to a sugar high, then a sugar crash, and you're child is left hungry once again.
"Just think about how distracted you can become when you, as an adult, are hungry and trying to focus on a task at work," Townsend says. "It can be the same for kids. A satisfied belly can help them concentrate better in the classroom, thus leading to better conduct and test scores. Children keep growing until about the age of 20. Skipping breakfast or eating an unhealthy one means they are missing out on important vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed for optimal development."
Townsend suggests aiming for a balance of carbohydrates that are more healthful, such as fruit, yogurt and whole-wheat toast with honey instead of jelly. Also, don't forget about a protein source that will help fuel their morning until lunchtime rolls around. Good sources of protein are found in nuts, peanut butter, eggs and lean deli meats.
Here are some other quick and easy suggestions for a healthful breakfast. "These ideas may not be as quick as grabbing a muffin in the morning, but with a little preparation, you can send your student on to a successful day," Townsend adds.
-Instant oatmeal made with milk and raisins.
-Yogurt with high-fiber cereal and fruit.
-Whole-wheat toast or waffle with nut butter, rather than sugary jam or syrup.
-Microwave eggs with a little cheese and whole-wheat toast on the side.
-Rolled up whole-wheat tortilla spread with peanut butter and banana slices.
-Whole-wheat English muffin with low-fat cheese and lean deli meat.
These "muffins" can be made in a jiffy and bake while the kids are getting ready to go. They're perfect for school days because they can be eaten on the run or for a sit-down breakfast served with a side of fruit.
6 large eggs
4 large egg whites
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons minced onion
3/4 cup cubed fully cooked lean ham (about 4 ounces)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, milk, salt and pepper until blended; stir in onions. Divide ham and cheese among eight greased muffin cups. Top with egg mixture, filling cups three-fourths full. Bake 22-25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Carefully run a knife around sides to loosen.
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