Helping your kids create good habits
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! So, why is it so difficult to convince our children to eat in the morning? How can we help them build healthy eating habits for the morning? Studies have shown that eating breakfast can help kids feel more energetic and perform better in school.
The meaning of the word ”breakfast” is “to break the night fast.” If that is so, then breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day for our muscles, bones and brain. That being said, we need to remember that morning time is often challenging for many families. The kids might be sleepy, tired, upset or moody. Making them eat something right after getting out of bed will give them the energy to cope with the day’s activities, but in most cases, it feels like a chore that neither parents or children enjoy.
Many kids also prefer to skip breakfast at home and have their first meal during the morning break at school. That doesn’t work! The first break at school, around 10:00 am, is the second meal of the day, not the first. How can we change this?
In order to change this habit of skipping breakfast, you want your kids to understand why breakfast is so important. If you keep nagging them about it without explaining why it is so important, they will not take you seriously. Find a good time (not in the morning) to explain to them the reasons why you say “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” For example, you can tell them that breakfast is important because:
- It gives their body energy it needs after a night’s sleep
- It helps their body wake up more quickly and ready itself to start the day
- It helps their brain work more efficiently. That could result in better performance at school!
- It helps their digestive system work better.
- It helps regulate their mood — less upset, grumpy or moody
Then, ask them what they think. See if they come up with more ideas. You could be surprised by their creativity and what they understand about the role of breakfast. Making it a conversation and not “a lecture” is very important so that they feel they are part of the discussion instead of just “taking orders” from you.
My Tip: Create the right time frame in the morning
It is not enough to explain how important it is to eat breakfast. You need to create a block of time — good “time frame” – for setting the table and eating comfortably. The best place to eat breakfast is at home, after brushing your teeth. If your child needs to get up a little bit earlier in order to have time to eat breakfast, then get them up earlier! It is recommended that you have 40-50 minutes between waking up and the time your child needs to leave the house to go to school. If your child is getting up 20 minutes before he needs to leave the house, that’s not enough time! Work with your child to create the best morning routine that will enable them to eat breakfast in a reasonable time without being late to school.
Watch out for my next post, where I’ll provide more specific ideas on how to prepare healthy breakfasts.
|Yael Dror is a Pediatric Nutritionist. She holds a Master’s degree in Physiology from Tel Aviv University and a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and most importantly, Yael is a mother of 3 active children. Yael is a former professional athlete and is a co-founder of Habitz.|