Growing up, breakfast was always a MUST in my home, it was a part of our routine. No matter how late I was, or if the school bus was already honking below our flat, my parents always made sure we gave our bodies the fuel it needed after a night’s rest.
Truth be told, there were times when I simply did not feel like scoffing down half-boiled eggs or cereal at 6am but as with any good child, I did it anyways, with some grumbles and tears of course. And now thinking about it, I do not remember being hungry while in class or even during recess, which usually would have been a good 3-4 hours later.
Establishing good eating habits from young may be an important factor in reducing illness and obesity. In studies amongst children, breakfast can improve attainment, behaviour and has been linked to improved grades. Just like any other organ in the body, the brain needs energy to work at its best!
Now with a toddler of my own, I am learning to take her cues and to cultivate positive eating habits with her. If we eat right as a family, she will inherently follow.
12 Tips that I swear by:
1. Eat meals together as a family as often as possible Try to make mealtimes pleasant with conversation and sharing, not a time for scolding or arguing. You do not want them to associate mealtime as being stressful and always discourage eating while watching TV.
2. Rolled oats at least 3 – 4 times a week Granola is my go-to option for a fuss-free yet healthful breakfast. Top it with fruits for added nutrients, all it takes is 5 mins! Perfect for hectic mornings.
3. Make your own bread or buy a bread maker. I had a rude scare when I left store-bought bread out for 2 weeks. No moulds were in sight and it looked just as ‘fresh’ as when it was first bought. So unless you have the budget to only buy from good bakeries, making your own bread not only allows you to control what goes into it, it is super simple! Measure out all the ingredients, set a timer, leave it overnight to rise and bake and you will be waking up to the smell of fresh bread! It cannot get any easier.
4. Make a wide variety of healthful foods available in the house so you can mix things up This practice will help your children learn how to make healthy food choices. Always have readily available fruits and vegetables. Exposing kids to different varieties allows them to be adventurous with food.
5. No junk food ever Lead by example. Limit or better still, eliminate your consumption. Be a good role model.
6. Bring a snack bag wherever you go Growth spurts and boundless energy requires constant refuelling. My snack bag normally consists of biscuits, fruits, bread rollups and cheese. As much as possible, try to limit sugar and sodium, use better sugars and salt such as coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey, Himalayan rock salt or sea salt.
7. Child-led eating Kids are all about independence, so offer them healthy choices. Put them in the driving seat to decide what they want to eat while offering healthy options.
8. Hydrate with water I believe in offering only water so that they know that’s their to-go hydration option in their cups and bottles. You can offer juice in other forms like a smoothie or popsicle but not as a drink.
9. Make your own yogurt or only buy unsweetened Use fresh fruits, honey or maple syrup if you want it sweeter. Making your own yogurt is an easy skill and you know exactly what goes into it. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to know how.
10. Homemade popsicles Easy use of leftover fruits. Perfect to cool down from this heat and a relief for teething toddlers. This is one single item that never fails to make my daughter happy.
11. Always have freezer stash Applesauce, frozen bananas, berries, stock and sauces in the freezer for quick easy meals or snacks.
12. Sunshine everyday Children benefit from being exposed to sunlight, natural elements, and open air, which contributes to bones development, stronger immune system and physical activity. It is in the outdoors that children can fully and freely experience motor skills like running, leaping, and jumping. Just remember to slather on the sunscreen!