Getting children to have a good hearty breakfast – Easier said than done!
Children usually are in a morning rush with the lethargy of having just woken up to the hurry to prepare for school (both currently with the online classes organised as well as when the onsite school starts) to the small appetites in the morning…with all this going on, it is a bit of a challenge to get them to eat right in the morning.
Let us explore some ways around these challenges and create a healthy hearty morning nourishing routine for them.
What Should a Good Breakfast for Kids Contain?
Whole grains cereals
It is imperative to ensure that there should be some cereal and it should be whole.
Cereals give that wonderful glucose providing energy to kickstart both body and brain. While grain ensures that crucial slice of micronutrients in the morning for e.g. iron and zinc
Could processed grains be used? Like bread? Yes. We could do that too, provided we combine it with micronutrient rich food.
Another alternative is to use fortified breakfast cereals ( though most come with the limitation of being high in sugar, so we need to take care that sugar is not added in any other part of breakfast).
Breakfast is a very important meal of the day. It is not just a snack to fill the tummy. Thus, it should contain protein.
When it comes to children, using milk and milk products become the easiest and best source of protein. This also provides that important morning slice of calcium for the activities of the day.
Alternatively, protein can be added by using a small portion of pulses or chicken or egg too.
Vitamins, Minerals and Fiber.
Using the above mentioned food groups does provide the micronutrients and fiber but it can be enhanced by adding some nuts or vegetables or fruits to the combination.
Let us look at examples to build hearty breakfasts for children using these nutrients – both during times of the lockdown period with classes from home as well as when the time comes to actually rush for school.
Ragi porridge with nut powder and a portion of fruit
Easy to make and easy to eat
Egg Lettuce sandwich with a portion of carrot and tomato juice.
Looks so delectable that the child will want to gobble it up
Mini idlis and chutney with a portion of apple walnut milkshake
Both traditional and trendy at the same time
Museli bowl… Crunchy museli layered with fruit and topped with curd…served in an attractive bowl.
This one is for those times when we are short on time
Besan chilla with tomato chutney and a portion of fruit smoothie
When we have time for both breakfast and interesting conversations
How to manage all this in the morning
A very pertinent question asked by busy mothers…
Let’s look at a three-point solution…
Dear busy moms, good nutrition needs planning. You must plan for the morning routine.
Lay out the equipment and serving utensils required the night before
Some preparation like boiling, preparing the batter, preparing the fillings and chopping can be completed the day before albeit done hygienically and stored well
Batters, dough, chutneys can be prepared for the week and kept aside
Write out a menu plan based on the children’s schedule. For e.g A college going child may be able to eat a more leisurely breakfast on days with late classes. Base it on your schedule too. The more elaborate menus can be accomplished on weekends and the quicker ones on weekdays.
Well stock your fridge and pantry for the week.
The vegetables and fruits required for the week can be planned ahead and bought.
Some quick fix items like nut powders, dry fruits, sprouts, boiled pulses and marinated and cooked chicken for fillings can be kept ready
How to get the children to eat breakfast
Another very important head splitting question as children can be very finicky about their morning routines
Communicate to the child the importance of eating well in the morning.
Remember that a onetime communication will not work. We need to have multiple conversations around this topic, just like you would converse to children about human values. Health is a human value too. Children have to hear it enough from parents and it needs to be talked about firmly, with conviction and in a happy environment.
Role model. Children are watching us constantly. We need to show them that we man what we say.
Adult breakfast routines need to demonstrate all that we converse to our kids – it has to be healthy and we need to show them how serious we are regarding our breakfast
Involve. Children of all ages can be involved in food preparation.
Let them be responsible and accountable for breakfast especially weekend breakfast.
They can also be involved in planning and pre preparation on the previous day
Use age-appropriate portions. Serving too large portions is a common mistake from over ambitious moms. A six year old will be able to consume only 1/3rd of a sandwich and 1/2 cup of milkshake.
The child’s appetite increases post 12 years of age with the teenage growth spurt. The adolescent will need larger portions.
Thus, this aspect needs to be kept in mind while serving so that the child can complete the meal.
Children are fascinated by rituals and excitement and the current situation of having classes from home may be a good time to institute some of these rituals to be continued when the lockdown opens up.
Create a ritual around breakfast. Even if it is a school day breakfast, let it be served on the table. Let it be a family affair and let there be morning conversations around breakfast.
We need to teach and demonstrate that breakfast is not a chore but a celebration.
Kids having a good hearty breakfast – Easier said than done!
Children usually are in a morning rush with the lethargy if having just woken up to the hurry to prepare for school to the small appetites in the morning…with all this going on it is a bit of a challenge to get them to eat right in the morning.
Getting children to eat well is achievable, it just needs a consistent effort, some planning and the addition of fun and good energy and a whole dollop of demonstration of love and affection.
Remember to pair every breakfast with warm cuddles and laughter, no matter what the age of your child is!