“Breakfast sets our kids up for success,” said Sam Kass, an assistant chef at the White House and executive director of Let’s Move!, the first lady’s campaign to end childhood obesity. “A child who goes to school having not eaten at all or having had a bag of chips or soda for breakfast is not going to have the fuel or nourishment they need to be successful.”
It’s so crucial, Kass said, that it’s a requirement for the Obama family: Everyone has to eat before they leave the house in the morning.
But if it’s such an important meal, why are so many of us sending our children to school fueled by sugary cereals, snack bars and frozen waffles drenched in syrup?
Mornings are often chaotic, with everyone rushing to get out the door. Picky eaters demanding frosted cereals battle parents who are trying to start their kids’ day with more nutritious choices. And sometimes, children just aren’t hungry when they wake up.
Some experts agree that breakfast should include protein and some healthful carbohydrates, and children should consume between 300 and 600 calories in the morning, depending on their age. But how to turn the nightmare into a dream that resembles My Plate, the government’s recommendations for what we should be eating? Here are some suggestions on how to regain control of the morning meal.
Share your stories: We want to hear about your morning routine, what you eat and what your kids eat (or refuse to). Tell us here and we’ll compile the best responses.
Relax. Parents shouldn’t put too much pressure on themselves to have their children sit down every morning to eat eggs and homemade oatmeal. Breakfast doesn’t have to mean breakfast food, and if your kids have to eat on the go occasionally, it’s okay, said Angela Lemond, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“The food police are not going to come and arrest you if you have leftovers or a sandwich for breakfast,” Lemond said. “You just need to have adequate nutrients, something more than just a snack.”
Amy Suardi, a mother of four in upper Northwest Washington (with a fifth child due this month), said one of her children is particularly picky and occasionally refuses to eat certain food, such as bananas or cereal. Serving non-breakfast food, such as reheated pasta or cheese and crackers with cold cuts and fruit, makes things easier, said Suardi, who writes the blog Frugal Mama.