Oh to have time in the morning, actually, I probably have more than most as our little angels are awake at cock crow and in our bed. And the kids have 20 minutes to half an hour for breakfast and that is set in stone. The little one wolfs down his in minutes, while the older, fussier one takes her time and has been known to leisurely enjoy three courses.
Worryingly, our kids are consuming much of (if not more than) their day’s worth of sugar intake at breakfast . (check out the worst cereal offenders here) Even my beloved Dorset Muesli has added sugar. A 30g bowl of Frosties gives you 11g of sugar (just over 2 teaspoons) while Weetabix and Shredded Wheat are good guys at less than 1 gram per portion.
Bearing in mind the recommended daily allowance for 4–6 year olds is 25g and 30 g for 7–10 year olds, it seems some kids regularly consume almost half the recommended amount before they get through the school gates.
Aside from the sugar content, many foodstuffs kids consume in the morning (muffins, bagels, pastries, white bread, processed cereals, cereal bars) are bereft of any actual nutritional value- they offer no naturally occurring vitamins or minerals, no fibre or protein (aside from the milk*). To add insult to injury, the body processes these food so quickly, it can result in blood sugar spikes which in turn, contribute to diabetes. Studies have also shown that this can have an impact on concentration and energy levels in both adults and children. This is also true of fruit juices and smoothies- a direct hit of sugar, even if it is naturally occurring fructose, sends blood sugar levels soaring.
So what to do? Recently, I started introducing a few oats here and there to add bulk and protein to the bowl of rice crispies. I’ve made my own granola with cocoa (they LOVE it- recipe later this week) and hidden protein and vitamin-packed nuts and seeds therein (well chopped of course) and concocted a few fruit butters which are basically stewing a bit of seasonal fruit with a little sugar. It can be dolloped on natural yogurt, muesli or wholemeal toast and really comes into its own in the Summer months when soft fruits are sweet and bountiful.
Jo Oates, our favourite nutritionist, recommends the following:
- If the kids are having juice or smoothies, make sure it’s either watered down or drunk with protein. (we’re not suggesting dunking chicken strips into their strawberry smoothie- but drunk while eating something wholesome like milk, yoghurt, eggs etc) This will slow down the blood’s absorption of the sugars.
- *Don’t always go for low fat dairy products. The vitamins and minerals in milk are fat soluble, so take out the fat and you’ve extracted the goodness. What remains also has a higher sugar:protein ratio. It’s a minefield right?
- Eggs are a great source of protein for breakfast- but eggs=time in the morning we just don’t have. Rustle up some baked apple and banana french toast one evening (it takes minutes- honestly) and you’ll have a ready-made breakfast for most of the week.
Watch out for an easy breakfast recipe every day this week on FB, Insta and Twitter.