Getting Your Kids to Eat Breakfast

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If your children are anything like mine, breakfast probably isn’t their top priority. In fact, there’s a good chance it’s not even in their top 10. Your average Bangkok international school kid tends to be overcommitted and stressed for their age. They’ve got standardized tests to worry about, a back-breaking backpack crammed with coursebooks, and homework questions that could stump even their parents.

It’s no wonder then that most kids would rather sleep an extra half-hour in the morning than drag themselves out of bed for something nutritious. And on that rare day when they’re up early, they’re probably more likely to reach for a sugary box of cereal than something healthy. All that extra sucrose and glucose will make your child’s blood sugar spike, then crash, leaving them hungry and irritable a couple hours later.

Unfortunately, there are a handful of good reasons why breakfast really is one of the most important meals of the day. Eating first thing in the morning helps kickstart your child’s metabolism, meaning that they burn calories more effectively throughout the day. It also gives them energy and boosts their concentration. A child with plenty of protein, healthy fat and complex carbohydrates in their system is going to be able to focus far better in school than one who goes without.

Preparing breakfast daily might seem like a daunting task, but it’s not actually that time consuming. Here are a few simple strategies for foods you can quickly make (or buy) to help get your kids start their day off the right way.

For a Western-style breakfast:

Omelet: Although eggs have gotten a bit of a bad reputation for all their cholesterol, recent studies have shown that one or two a day have no real negative health effects. And these relatively low-calorie (a large egg has roughly 70 calories; an egg white only 20) treats are loaded with protein and B vitamins, including folic acid. An omelet takes roughly three minutes to cook and is a great way to sneak in extra veggies.

Oatmeal with fruit and walnuts: Regular oatmeal is high in B vitamins and fiber, but low in protein. Cook it in milk or soy milk (for calcium and protein), stir in some mashed banana or berries (for antioxidants and vitamins), swirl in some cinnamon and top it with toasted walnuts (for the omega-3s), however, and you have a much tastier breakfast that will keep your child full all morning long.

Whole-grain bruschetta: This is just a fancy word for toast and can be made in minutes. Drizzle toasted whole-wheat or spelt bread with a little olive oil and throw on chopped tomatoes, mozzarella/shaved Parmesan, avocado and you’ve got a satisfying, antioxidant-packed start to the day.

Muesli or low-sugar granola with yogurt: Regular granola often contains more sugar than a batch of cookies. Make your own (tastier, surprisingly easy and keeps through the whole week) or buy a lower sugar variety. Sweeten it with plenty of fruit and top it with yogurt for a calcium/fiber/protein combo.

For a Thai-style breakfast:

Thais make very little distinction between breakfast and lunch, which makes it easy to buy a balanced, protein heavy meal early in the morning. Steer clear of the fried patongo (fried dough balls) and the joke made with white rice. Instead, pick of some of these goodies on your soi to bring home.

Khai jiao: The Thai-style omelet may be deep-fried, but it’s still loaded with protein and, since it tends to be on the small side, a lot less calorically dense than a doughnut. To make it healthier, cook one yourself using less oil and serve it with brown rice (make extra at dinner and microwave).

Moo ping: These tasty pork skewers tend to be on the fatty side, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyed in moderation. Just stick to small servings or go for leaner pieces of meat. If you can find a vendor selling black sticky rice, serve that as well for some extra antioxidants and fiber.

Pomlamai: One of the best things about living in Thailand is the abundance of fresh, local and affordable fruit. Bring home pineapple, watermelon, green guava, mango or whatever your kids like and keep it in the fridge for snacking. It goes great with any breakfast.

Photo Credit: gagilas via Compfight cc

Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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