Rarely do nutrition studies all come to the same conclusion. But after dozens of studies over many decades, the verdict is clear – kids need to start their day with a nourishing breakfast to perform their best at school. Kids who eat breakfast do better academically because it provides energy to learn, keeping them alert and attentive until lunch.
While any breakfast is better than no breakfast, lower-sugar, protein-rich breakfasts are ideal. Too much sugar in the morning can spike blood sugar, causing a midmorning drop that will leave them fatigued. Unfortunately most breakfast options marketed to kids are pretty packed with the sweet stuff. Did you know the average kid eats half the recommended upper limit of sugar intake before school even starts.
A little bit of sugar at breakfast can help make healthy foods more palatable, but it’s important not to go overboard. Here’s 5 tips to cut sugar from your kid’s breakfast:
If there’s a cartoon character on the front of the cereal box, it’s a pretty good bet that it’s packed with sugar. I encourage clients to look for whole grain cereals with less than 5 grams of sugar in a serving. If your child is attached to a particular high sugar breakfast cereal, try mixing it half and half with an unsweetened, whole grain option.
Think beyond maple syrup and get creative with your pancake and waffle toppings. I like to microwave frozen berries, which give off juice to form a fruity syrup. I also love to use nut butter for a topping. Warm your favorite nut butter with a little bit of syrup, then drizzle over pancakes or waffles. Not only is it delicious, but the fats and protein in nut butter will keep your kids energized until lunchtime. All fruit jam and banana slices are two other favorite toppings.
Go halfsies with sweetened dairy
Chocolate milk and yogurt are convenient ways to help your kids meet their calcium needs, but one serving contains more added sugar than many desserts. Mix chocolate milk with equal parts plain milk, and sweetened yogurt with plain yogurt. If your child is struggling with the change, start with a small amount of unsweetened dairy and slowly increase the ratio. Taste buds are trainable, so they won’t notice the difference.
Make savory breakfast options fun!
Encourage your child to eat more savory breakfast options by making them fun! Make mini egg muffins by baking beaten eggs with veggies, ham or bacon, and cheese in a muffin tin. Cook eggs in cookie cutters so they take on a fun shape. Use cut fruit, veggies, dried fruit or olives to make faces on avocado or peanut butter toast.
Smoothies are the perfect option for kids who want something sweet, and parents who want something nutritious. Blend equal parts frozen fruit and plain milk or unsweetened dairy alternatives, then add yogurt or nut butter for fat and protein. I also like to add a handful of oats for filling fiber. Use sweeter fruits, like banana, mango, or pineapple to please kids palettes. You could even freeze the smoothie in popsicles molds to enjoy dessert for breakfast.
What are your favorite lower-sugar, kid-friendly breakfast options? Let us know in the comments section and be sure to download Luvo’s 7-day meal and fitness plan for more nutrition tips and recipes.