If you have kids, especially small kids, you likely know just how difficult breakfast can be. Between trying to rush them out the door to take the bus and trying to find foods that they’ll eat (especially if you are lucky enough to have picky eaters), breakfast can really be a struggle.
Here at Over Easy, we feel your pain. We can help you make breakfast easier, both for yourself and your kids, so we’ve compiled some tips so that you can experience life like it’s meant to be lived, without feeling like you’re running a marathon before you’ve even left the house.
Why Breakfast Is Important For Kids
Breakfast is important for everyone, but especially for children.
Children’s brains continue to grow and develop until adulthood but are particularly impressionable until they are about eight years old. When you develop healthy habits early on, those habits can quite literally help form their brains in a positive way. Every experience that they have, everything they put into their bodies turns them into who they become as adults. No pressure, right?
Kids who skip breakfast are more likely to struggle with concentration while they’re at school. On the flip side, children who regularly eat breakfast tend to have higher test scores, are able to retain information easier and better, and are much more able to focus. Breakfast is literally brain food.
The logic behind that is that brains, just like every other part of our body, requires a source of fuel to function at its best. While some body parts, like our muscles, are able to function using energy that has been stored in the body, the brain prefers fresher energy.
When it doesn’t have a fresh source of energy and glucose to use, it causes our brain to work far less quickly. That leads to brain fog, sluggishness, and an inability to really sit and focus on the things we need to do. Considering that’s most of what we ask our children to do during the day, why would we not want to set them up for success?
In addition, with so much childhood obesity and early onset diabetes occurring in the United States, children who eat breakfast on a regular basis are less likely to become overweight. When you provide them with a filling, healthy breakfast, they can resist the cravings that can occur throughout the day and have more energy to stay active. Sounds like a win-win to us.
Developing A Morning Routine
One of the best ways that you can help make the process of breakfast easier for your kids is by developing a more functional morning routine. Although they would probably tell you otherwise, children actually need and crave order, not to mention fun.
When you develop a morning routine with your children, it’s recommended that you include them in the planning if at all possible. It will make things much easier in the long term, and your kids are far more likely to cooperate. You can even make it fun! Turn on some music, write it down and add stickers, customize it to what your child is into at the time. You want to create a routine that they want to be a part of.
Start by looking at any potential blockades that you normally experience during your current morning routine. This could be finding the shoes that they threw under the couch, having their backpack packed and ready to go, eating breakfast, getting dressed, and more. That’ll give you a good idea of where to start when designing a new routine.
Good morning routines, especially with children, actually start the night before. Laying out clothes (let them pick them out as much as possible to avoid a fight, and try not to get hung up on mismatches), making sure homework is done and packed into their backpack, having their shoes in one place—all of these things can help make your morning run that much smoother.
Once you wake up in the morning, you can get right to the important details without running around trying to find missing items and wrangle up homework before they miss the bus. You’ll have much more time to enjoy each other’s company, eat a good breakfast, and head into your day with a greater sense of calm and peace. And these days, we’re pretty sure that everyone could use a little extra calm.
What Makes A Good Breakfast For Kids?
While breakfast is important, that doesn’t mean that just any breakfast will do. Kids who stuff themselves full of sugary cereals or doughnuts before school won’t experience the same benefits as those who eat a healthy breakfast.
When planning out your breakfasts for the week, aim for foods that are rich in healthy carbohydrates, like fresh fruits and whole grains. These make great breakfasts because the energy they provide enters the bloodstream slowly, giving them sustained energy instead of short bursts followed by a crash. We promise that your kid’s teacher will appreciate it if they don’t have to deal with a tiny sugar monster.
Carbs are also the preferred energy source for brains. When protein is added to carbs, they can help that energy and fuel stretch out even further, helping your children sustain themselves until lunchtime.
Carb-rich foods like oatmeal and fruit, combined with a protein energy-supplier like eggs, peanut butter, and nuts, are the best combination for sustained energy and focus. There are an endless amount of combinations.
Breakfast Ideas For Kids
Now that you’re convinced that breakfast is important for kids, what are you supposed to feed them? Most kids are pretty resistant to anything that looks healthy. It can be a real struggle to convince them to eat in the morning, so make it easier on yourself by selecting breakfast ideas that they’ll actually want to eat.
Breakfast bars, like the ones we created here at Over Easy, are the perfect option for picky eaters. We have three different options—apple cinnamon, banana nut, and peanut butter. Each is made with plenty of protein and fiber to feed growing brains, and they don’t taste nearly as healthy are they actually are!
Every kick-ass ingredient was selected from real foods, with none of the unhealthy chemicals that so many other breakfast bars are made out of. Your kids will want to eat them, but you’ll also know that they’re getting everything they need nutritionally. Yeah, we’re basically magicians.
If you have a little more time and want to cook a healthy, quick breakfast, consider making a recipe the night before that can be heated up in the morning and taken to go. While it would be nice sit around the kitchen table eating breakfast together as a family, that’s just not gonna happen. Things like egg muffins, smoothies, and even dairy-free pancakes can all be made ahead of time to save precious minutes during the morning routine.
Other healthy breakfast ideas that are quick and easy are whole-wheat toast with avocado or peanut butter, organic oatmeal with fresh fruit, scrambled eggs with leafy green vegetables, or fresh apple slices dipped in peanut butter.
Ultimately, the best breakfast for your child is one that is not just healthy but also enticing so that they are interested in actually eating it.
Your dedication to your children’s nutrition doesn’t stop at breakfast time. Think ahead to what they’ll be eating for lunch, as well. Many school cafeterias are full of quick and easy foods that don’t necessarily have much nutritious quality. While this is slowly changing, if your kids are following up their healthy, well-rounded breakfast with a slice of pizza or chicken nuggets and french fries, it may end up cancelling out the benefits. It may also lead to a crash in the afternoon, which may be followed by tanking grades and more calls home from teachers.
If possible, pack a lunch for them. A slice of pizza is great every once in a while so that they don’t feel like they’re missing out, but a healthy lunch goes farther toward supporting their educational goals and the healthy development of both their brain and their body.
Pack a healthy lunch and healthy snacks (like… an Over Easy breakfast bar?), especially if your child takes part in any after school or extracurricular activities. Our kids tend to need a lot more fuel than we do, and they should be provided the best leg up that they can get.
Breakfast shouldn’t have to be a struggle. When you know how to design a routine around helping your kids eat breakfast regularly, as well as what types of foods help them the most, you’ll create a major, positive shift and make your life a whole lot easier.
Over Easy breakfast bars easily fit into this plan—in fact, they can be the center of the plan—, allowing you a healthy option on the go that tastes great with the sustained energy they need to help them achieve at their highest level in school.