Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That’s a common phrase we’ve all heard, and for good reason. The word “breakfast” breaks down into two words: “Break” and “Fast,” because breakfast is the meal that *breaks* your overnight *fast.* After sleeping for hours, it’s important to “jump start” your metabolism first thing in the morning. Over and over again, research studies show the endless benefits of eating breakfast. Breakfast eaters generally have healthier weights. People on weight loss programs are most successful when they eat breakfast. Studies have also shown a strong link between breakfast and performance: kids are more focused in school and adults are more productive at work when they eat in the morning. Breakfast is important for everyone, both kids and adults. It starts our day on the right foot and helps our bodies and minds work best.
So what should you be eating and what should you be serving your kids in the morning? The answer can actually be the same. The problem is not all breakfasts are created equal. Cereal is often viewed as an easy, healthy breakfast choice, but most cereals are loaded with sugar, and even the ones that aren’t are mainly carbohydrate, which becomes sugar in the bloodstream. It’s important to have a balance of protein, healthy fat,and carbohydrate (PFC). When you try to make your bowl of cereal a balanced meal with juice, a piece of fruit and a bowl of yogurt, you’re actually just getting lots of carbs which equivalates to lots of sugar. What you and your kids need at breakfast is a healthy balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate. This is the foundational belief behind everything I do and teach.
A better breakfast choice—my breakfast staple— is eggs. Whole eggs: yolk and all (no, they won’t raise your cholesterol!) Most kids and adults alike will eat scrambled eggs, which are an excellent source of quality protein. Cook the eggs in a couple tablespoons of butter, olive oil or coconut oil (yum!) and add some spinach or mixed veggies (or both!) while they’re cooking. Serve them with a piece of whole fruit or half of a sweet potato and you have a nutritious, balanced meal with all three macronutrients. Or, whip up my Egg Bake or Protein Pancakes recipe in advance so all you have to do is pull out a serving, heat it up and enjoy.
An option for those with an egg aversion or allergy and for those with really busy mornings is a Balanced Smoothie (or breakfast parfait, if you don’t have a blender). These are a quick, healthy option for moms, dads and kids, and they are also a good on-the-go option to take in the car or to school. Smoothies are great because you can customize them by adding any ingredients you like—as long as you promise to include the three necessities: protein, healthy fat and carbs. Check out my entire post on combinations and ideas for making a Balanced Smoothie for breakfast.
Lastly, if you or your kids won’t budge on the cereal habit, be sure to serve a side of protein and a side of healthy fat alongside the cereal bowl. For protein, you could serve a pre-prepared hard-boiled egg, Greek yogurt (a non-sugary one), cottage cheese, a scrambled egg or side of breakfast ham or sausage. If hot cereal is preferred, you can stir in peanut butter for a boost of fiber and healthy fat, but again, be sure to serve a side of protein along with it. You can also top the hot or cold cereal with nuts and/or seeds to add healthy fat.
Breakfast is also a good time to get in some of your daily vitamins, especially your probiotic and glutamine for gut health (more on gut health here). If you go for a smoothie, you can easily add these in, otherwise don’t forget to have them on the side with your eggs! My vitamin recommendations for kids can be found here.
Although mornings can be rushed, make it a priority to sit down with your children and have a healthy, balanced breakfast or whip up a smoothie to take with on the road. This will start both your day and theirs on the right foot by nourishing your bodies and minds.