– Christina Tran, (Registered Dietitian) & Yvonne Yorke
Breakfast is commonly referred to as “the most important meal of the day.” There are many reasons for this as breakfast is intended to provide us with the energy that we need to start our day. This is especially important for school-aged children. Having a balanced breakfast that offers fiber, protein, and a small amount of healthy fat has been linked with better academic performance compared to those who are unable to have a balanced breakfast before school.
The only caveat I would add is to have breakfast based on your own level of hunger. Everyone is unique and some people are not always hungry first thing in the morning. If this is the case, still aim for fiber, protein, and a small amount of healthy fat — but in a portion that is related to how hungry you are.
A possible combination for someone who is very hungry in the morning could be: overnight or freshly cooked plain oats made with milk, topped with freshly cut or thawed frozen fruit, with nut or seed butter or actual nuts or seeds sprinkled on top. Two eggs on the side would also be a great option. Here you have fiber from the oats, protein from the milk, eggs, nuts or seeds, and some healthy fats from the nuts or seeds and eggs.
A possible combination for someone who is not that hungry could be: one slice of whole wheat bread, pita or roti, spread with some nut or seed butter, and some fruit on the side. A small bowl of high fiber and low sugar cereal such as plain o-shaped cereal with milk and some fruit on the side works well too.
Unlockfood.ca has some more detailed breakfast recipes at Breakfast – Unlock Food and some great tips for school-aged children at School Aged Children – Unlock Food.
I get asked a lot about milk recommendations for school- aged children. In general, for children over the age of 2 years, aim for 2 cups (500 ml) of cow’s milk per day (2% or less is fine). If you prefer plant-based, then unsweetened, fortified soy milk is a great option. I typically recommend soy milk because its protein content is comparable to cow’s milk. Other plant-based options such as almond, cashew, etc. have pea protein added. Depending on your personal preference, always check the label for milk that contains calcium, vitamin D, and protein.
Student Nutrition Program (aka Breakfast Club) at Rose Park Public School
It’s simple: when children are hungry, they can’t focus, and if they can’t focus, they can’t learn (tfss.ca)