You’ve probably heard the saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, and I’m inclined to agree! Not that lunch and dinner aren’t great, but starting the day with a balanced, nourishing breakfast is so important for setting you up to feel your best during the day.
You can easily ensure a balanced breakfast plate for you and your kids by choosing foods from at least 3 different food groups, such as dairy, protein, and fruits. To get more specific with a focus on certain nutrients, keep these 3 components in mind to build a better breakfast:
Protein is essential for metabolic functions, maintaining lean muscle mass, providing the body with energy, and much more. Having adequate protein at meals and snacks will help reduce hunger between meals by making you feel fuller after eating. Thankfully, dairy foods contain the essential protein we need! Just one 8-ounce serving of milk has 8 grams of high-quality protein. For a protein-packed start to the day, enjoy two of these Ham and Swiss Quiche Muffins paired with a piece of fresh fruit. Kids and adults will love this handheld breakfast on the go! They reheat so well and can easily be made with lactose-free milk if needed.
Get a head start on reaching your fiber intake goal for the day by including fiber-rich foods at breakfast! Fiber needs will vary based on a child’s age, but girls 9-13 years need 26 grams, while boys of the same age need 31 grams of fiber a day. Women under the age of 50 need 25 grams of fiber each day while men under 50 should have 38 grams every day. Having fiber at breakfast, and all meals, will help you to feel fuller longer and can help with blood sugar control. Choose high fiber, whole grains such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread, whole grain cereal, or quinoa. This could be a bowl of cereal with milk, an Ancient Grain Hot Cereal bowl, or a slice of whole wheat bread with a slice of cheese and a piece of fruit.
Don’t fear fat, especially good fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats! Fat is essential and especially important for the brain development of growing children. If you’re lactose-intolerant, try lactose-free milk so you can still get the 13 essential vitamins and minerals that dairy offers. This Berry Coconut Overnight Oats recipe is a delicious way to get healthy fats into your morning via lactose-free milk, Greek yogurt, and chia seeds. Looking for something savory? Make this Cheese and Spinach Strata on the weekend and enjoy it for breakfast throughout the week!
By including protein, fiber, and fat in the first meal of the day, you’ll feel fuller longer, more energized, and you’ll ensure a good variety of essential nutrients the body needs to perform.
Karman Meyer is an RDN with 15 years of experience in the nutrition and food industry. She’s the author of ‘Eat To Sleep: What To Eat & When To Eat It for a Good Night’s Sleep’ (2019) and the upcoming book, ‘The Everything DASH Diet Meal Prep Cookbook’ (2023). As the founder and recipe creator behind TheNutritionAdventure.com, Karman is passionate about sharing the facts about food and nutrition with readers, and she works to encourage others to feel more confident in the kitchen and to enjoy food—not fear it.