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Healthy breakfast habits for children

Little boy eating breakfast
Credit: iStock.com/Peopleimages

Remember when your Mum told you breakfast was the most important meal of the day?

Well, it turns out that is just another thing to add to the list of things she was right about.

"Breakfast sets the tone for the entire day," nutritionist Honor Tremain says. Honor has a Bachelor degree in Health Science and is author of A Diet in Paradise, a health, diet and recipe book.

"Whatever you have for breakfast; that same trend continues throughout the day."

That means a breakfast of highly processed and sugary food – such as some cereals – is setting you up for a day where you are constantly looking for that kind of food and you will be moving from energy spike to energy spike without having the strong, consistent release of energy which comes from a healthy breakfast.

"If you have high-processed and sugary breakfasts your blood sugar spikes and then plummets.

"Then, you keep looking for that (sugar) all day … and that is when you start reaching for the cookies!"

Just like almost everything food related, Honor recommends taking a step back in time and a leaf from our grandparents' books.

"Take bacon and eggs. Our grandparents thought they were very healthy and they still are. That's a great breakfast.

Fruit (not juice), raw muesli, oats and porridge, milk, nuts and whole grains were all worthy inclusions on the breakfast menu.

"You can add honey, nuts, goji berries, chia, banana, sultanas, apricots, strawberries – or any berries for that matter! Just steer clear of processed foods."

And that goes for even the "healthy" ones, she says.

"Stick as closely to whole foods as you can."

Start with the parents. If they can revamp their diet and work on their understanding of food and what is a good option, then that will also flow on to the kids.
Nutritionist Honor Tremain

So what about those apparently super-healthy options in the cereal aisle?

Well, Honor's not having a bar of it.

"We have an entire aisle of a supermarket dedicated to breakfast, which is supposed to be the most important meal of the day, and it is almost all processed and high in sugar!

"It's completely ridiculous.

"The healthy stars on those cereal boxes make a lot of people in the nutrition industry very angry.

"They are only on processed foods and it is misleading. You don't see a star on a banana or a bottle of milk, do you? Yet they are, by far, better options."

It's the old adage, Honor, says: Don't believe everything you see and read in the supermarket.

What kids do see and read, however, and take particular note of, is their parents' breakfast eating habits.

"Kids will emulate what they see you do," she says.

"It's not what you say, it's what you do."

So a quick coffee and piece of toast on the run (and let's face it, how many people are guilty of that in the morning?) is sending all the wrong messages to your kids.

"It is hugely important that kids have parents with a good understanding of just how important breakfast is.

"It should be a whole family thing.

"Start with the parents. If they can revamp their diet and work on their understanding of food and what is a good option, then that will also flow on to the kids.

"Parents are also more in touch with how they feel after eating certain types of food. They have an emotional understanding of how it makes them feel and how they physically and emotionally respond.

"That enables them to identify that in their children and then be able to explain why it is important."

To Honor, there is no overstating the need for a good brekky. It makes or breaks a day.

"We all know there have been debates and mixed research about things like the cholesterol in egg yolks and whether something like bacon and eggs is good for you. 

"But it all comes back to good, slow release energy food and avoiding anything highly processed or high in sugar."

Honor's Breakfast Dos:

Look for whole foods

  • Remember what our grandparents did
  • Stick to oats and raw muesli
  • Bacon and eggs (and even steak and a sausage or some beans) are winners
  • Mix it up – have a variety of different foods and try different flavours
  • Lead by example – parents should make sure they are practicing what they preach in eating a good healthy breakfast
  • Smoothies are a great source of energy, vitamins and fibre
  • Add nuts, seeds, goji berries, honey, other fresh berries, LSA, and other slow-release whole additions to your breakfast
  •  Invest in a nutri-bullet or blender

Honor's Breakfast Don'ts:

Avoid processed foods

  • Avoid sugary foods
  • Don't listen to the stars
  • Eat real fruit not processed juices
  • Don't skip breakfast

Good Brekky ideas:

  • Smoothies
  • Bacon and Eggs
  • Fruit
  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Oats with honey, nuts, berries and seeds
  • Milk – almond, coconut, dairy (if digestible)

Recipes:

Monster Greens Kids Smoothie 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic rice, coconut, organic soy, quinoa, almond or dairy milk as base.
  • 1 ripe frozen banana/blue berries/strawberries/mango
  • 1/2 tbs. soaked, rinsed and cooked quinoa grain
  • 1tbs. organic lecithin granules and or 1 tbs. chia seeds.
  • 1/2- 1 tsp. organic green food
  • ¼- ½ teaspoon of powdered spirulina
  • 1 tbs. organic coconut syrup, raw honey, maple syrup or agave if needed
  • 1 tsp. organic raw cacao powder

Method

Blend and serve. Great for a quick breakfast or snack in between meals.

Super Scrambled Eggs 

Ingredients

  • 2-3 large organic eggs
  • ½ tsp. organic dried turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon of cold pressed olive oil
  • 1 tbs. coconut oil
  • 1 slice of gluten free bread
  • Pinch of fine grain sea salt
  • Pinch of black pepper

Method

Whisk the eggs, turmeric and a pinch of salt and pepper until combined. To cook the eggs, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the egg mix and stir gently with a spatula until cooked. Toast bread in toaster and spread with coconut oil. Serve eggs on gluten free toast.

Bacon, Avocado & Semi-Sun-dried Tomato on rye 

Ingredients

  • 1 bacon slice, fried, sliced
  • 1/4 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 3 semi-sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 slice thick rye bread
  • Rock salt to taste

Method

Fry bacon strip in a medium fry pan. Meanwhile, mash up the avocado, lemon juice and salt in a small bowl. Toast bread, spread avocado mix, then place tomatoes on top, then fried bacon strips.
 

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