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Health And Family

Why kids need a power breakfast

WELL-BEING - Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit - The Philippine Star
Why kids need a power breakfast
Prepare a different breakfast every morning so they look forward to something new everyday.

Breakfast is important for kids. It starts the day right by providing the energy kids require. We spoke to Nestlé nutritionist Charisma “Cha” Culla-Sy regarding challenges parents face in providing the best breakfast possible.

PHILIPPINE Star: How many Filipino kids skip breakfast? Is that a problem in today’s Filipino homes?

Cha Sy: Based on the 2013 National Nutrition Survey, 99 percent of children are eating breakfast. The question, though, is if children are consuming a good quality breakfast. That’s why Nestlé Research partnered with the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) to understand Filipino eating behaviors.

What tips can you give to parents and kids who struggle to eat and prepare healthy breakfasts especially, when they wake up late in the morning?

Plan your breakfast ahead. This way, you know beforehand what to prepare. This also allows you to ensure availability of the ingredients in the pantry. Make sure to include their favorite food and drink.

Involve the child. Planning the breakfast menu with the child brings excitement to wake up the next day. Also, ask the child to assist in preparing breakfast such as beating the eggs, mixing their favorite drink, or setting the table. Studies show that children are likely to eat healthy when they are involved in food preparation.

Nutritionist Cha Sy.

Pre-prep. To make preparing breakfast easy-breezy, it would be wise to pre-prep the ingredients (like chopping ingredients, pre-cooking the meat) the night before and possibly during weekends.

Sleep early. As the saying goes, “Early to bed, early to rise.” This ensures the child gets sufficient sleep and avoid the struggle of waking up early.

Why is a healthy breakfast important for school kids?

Children who eat breakfast are more physically active. Nutritious breakfasts provide energy that kids need to fuel physical activity for schoolwork, play and sports. In a study by Kral et al (2012), children are found to be more energized on days when they eat breakfast compared to days when they skip breakfast. Another study (Schembre et al 2013) shows that children who frequently eat breakfast spend 30 percent more time on moderate to vigorous physical activity versus frequent breakfast skippers. Eating adequate breakfast improves academic performance. Research shows that eating breakfast regularly improves cognitive functions such as memory skills, alertness level, concentration and problem-solving ability. Eating the most important meal of the day regularly is also associated with higher test scores in reading, math and science. Breakfast promotes a good mood. According to research, children feel significantly more cheerful and energized during days when they eat breakfast versus when they do not. Skipping breakfast leads to short-term energy deprivation, which affects the mood negatively. It also helps if their breakfasts are packed with nutrients like B-vitamins and iron, as kids deficient in these nutrients tend to have worse moods. An energizing and nutritious breakfast paired with a nutrient-packed drink like Milo helps them get ready for a great day ahead.

How can mothers make morning nutrition fun and not boring?

Ensure variety. Prepare a different breakfast every morning so they look forward to something new everyday. It can also be the same food item but with a bit of twist like addition/replacement of some ingredients. (For example, pan de sal and egg. It can be with cheese on one day, with ham next time or vegetable omelet at another time.)

Add colors. Vegetables and fruits add color, nutrients, texture and variety. Overall, it makes the dish look more appetizing.

Fun plating. Plating can be a fun art activity for your child. Cut up fruits and vegetables a different way next time. You can even ask your child to arrange their food on their plate like making cute animal faces.

Ask your child to assist in preparing breakfast like beating the eggs or setting the table. Studies show that children are likely to eat healthy when they are involved in food preparation.

What makes up a healthy breakfast for kids in terms of calories and macro-nutrients?

A quick and easy nutrition guide for nutritious and balanced breakfast is the Pinggang Pinoy developed by the Department of Science and Technology-FNRI. Half of the plate should consist of Glow Foods — vegetables and fruits that are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. The other half consists of carbohydrate-rich Go Foods, like rice, bread, or whole grain cereals; and protein-rich Grow Foods like fish, meat, or egg. A nutritious drink like Milo can help further boost the protein and calcium content of this meal, plus add hydration.

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Post me a note at [email protected].

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