Breakfast – a kid’s most important meal.

Kids and breakfast: an uneasy alliance.

Studies have been conducted with parents of children aged 6 to 12 to get an idea of how many kids usually have breakfast at home in the morning before school, and the overall results have shown that more than 70 percent said their kids ate breakfast at home every day, while only about five percent reported that their kids always skipped it.

That’s the good news. But what kids have been eating has cast a shadow on these facts. Most kids are having plenty of refined carbs with their morning meals, but not much protein. And fruit intake is pretty scanty, too. Kids’ top breakfast choices are refined grain products, foods like cold cereal, waffles, pancakes, toast and bagels.

There’s more to breakfast than a full stomach. Kids need healthy carbohydrates like whole-grain breads and cereals and fresh fruits to provide fuel to active muscles and busy brains. And a good shot of protein in the morning from foods like eggs and low-fat dairy products not only keeps kids from getting too hungry, but it also helps keep them mentally alert. A recent USDA report said that our kids aren’t getting nearly enough calcium, vitamin D, potassium or fiber in their diets. All of these could be supplied by a breakfast that included fruit, dairy products and whole grains.

We’re all busy in the morning, and it may be tempting to take the path of least resistance when it comes to making sure that kids eat. If they say they’re not hungry, why push? If they’re in a rush, busy parents may find it easier – or believe it’s faster – to pick something up on the way to school than to help kids put together a healthy breakfast at home.

But I wonder, does it really take that long to prepare a bowl of high-fiber cereal and fruit, make a slice of whole-grain toast to be eaten with a carton of yogurt, or whip up a quick protein smoothie in the blender?

Remember, just because a belly is full doesn’t mean the brain and muscles are getting the fuel they need.

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