Healthy breakfast ideas for kids
It's drummed into us how breakfast is the most important meal of the day but it's often the busiest time of the day too. Children are rushing around getting ready for school and breakfast consists of grabbing a slice of toast or a biscuit as they disappear out of the door. Worse, it’s a packet of crisps and a fizzy drink from the local shop on the way to school.
If you have a few healthy breakfast ideas up your sleeve to tempt them you'll be setting them up for the day. But with so much choice and variety in the breakfast foods market it can be a minefield knowing what's really healthy and what's just pretending to be.
Is breakfast really that important?
If you get the classic "I don't want breakfast, I'm not hungry" response tell your children it'll make them cleverer! And there's even evidence to prove it.
"Breakfast sets you up and fuels you ready to start the day," says British Dietetic Association spokesperson, Debra Williams. "By having breakfast it helps stabilise blood sugar levels which regulate appetite and energy. Evidence has shown having regular breakfast helps with weight loss."
Kids who have breakfast work better at school. They have better recall and problem solving skills. "Studies show children have more energy, concentrate well and perform better at school if they have a suitable healthy breakfast at the start of the day," says Debra.
So what's really healthy?
Some foods give an illusion of being healthy when they aren't really that good for you and just because something is marketed as being suitable for breakfast doesn't necessarily mean it's the best choice.
Breakfast cereal is popular and it can be a healthy option too.
"Many processed breakfast cereals are fortified with additional vitamins and minerals which children often find difficult to get from elsewhere, for example vitamin D and iron," says Debra. "Also having milk or yoghurt with cereal provides an excellent source of calcium and additional protein."
But not all cereals are created equal. A bowl of choco-balls is not the same as a bowl of porridge. Even some brands of granola and muesli, which seem a healthy option, can be high in fat and sugar.
A lot of the cereals targeted at children have a high sugar and or salt content and lack dietary fibre. Check on the nutrition label. Healthy cereals provide less than 5g of sugars per 100g, and less than 0.3g of salt per 100g. Fibre should be above 3g per 100g.
"It's always best to choose plainer options such as porridge oats," advises Debra. Other options include whole-wheat cereals and bisks.
Make a bowl of plain cereal more tempting to kids by topping with sliced bananas or a few raspberries; it gets in one of your five a day too!