Back to School: Start Smart with a Healthy Breakfast
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 22, 2013
Local Experts Share
How to Make Great Breakfast Choices on Tight Time or Money
ST. CHARLES, Ill. – The
start of the school year often means new schedules and routines, which may
result in a rushed or incomplete breakfast. Starting the day smart with healthy
choices can provide a wealth of benefits without a lot of time or money.
"You can make breakfast
simple and convenient while still being healthy," said Jessica Gadomski, Extension Educator with
University of Illinois Extension for DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties. "Balance
is key. It is important to have the right choices on hand at home, and the
MyPlate model can serve as a great meal planning tool."
MyPlate is the USDA program
to promote healthy eating, and the visual aid features proper portions of
fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein divided into sections on a plate.
"An ideal breakfast would
have at least four of the food groups," said Laura Barr, Nutrition and Wellness
Educator with University of Illinois Extension for DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties.
"More than a decade of research confirms the benefits of breakfast, which is
especially critical for children."
According to the
BreakfastFirst initiative, students who eat breakfast perform better in school,
and have higher daily intakes of vitamins A and C, riboflavin, calcium, zinc
"Research continually shows
that a healthy breakfast promotes better academic performance, attendance,
behavior and focus," Gadomski said. "Food is our fuel. Much like a car, what we
put in our bodies helps us function properly. Healthy foods help us not only
move but think. Parents can set their children for success when they start the
A few simple guidelines can
help parents and children stay on track without extra time or big budgets.
and Satisfying Breakfast
"Breakfast can be a time
crunch. If you are on the go, grab a protein and a carbohydrate at the bare minimum,"
said Barr. "A cheese stick and an apple, or peanut butter on a whole grain
bagel is better than nothing."
Both Gadomski and Barr warn parents
to avoid serving only carbohydrates, like grains and fruits, at breakfast. The
best breakfast incorporates multiple food groups.
"A carbohydrate-heavy breakfast,
like a waffle and fruit, digests quicker and your child will be hungry sooner,"
explained Barr. "By adding a healthy protein, such as a hard-boiled egg or
glass of milk, there will be slow release of energy, which helps keep the body
She also recommends
yogurt-based smoothies as a great on-the-go morning option.
"Add a little milk and
bananas, or seasonal berries and fresh fruits, or even frozen fruit favorites,"
she said. "Invite your children to help. If you give them ownership, they are
more likely to adopt healthy habits."
Barr added parents should not
be limited by traditional breakfast food choices. "Your body doesn't know a
breakfast food from a lunch food," she said, adding a healthy non-traditional
breakfast may be beans, tortillas and cheese with vegetables. Another option
could be tuna or egg salad, whole wheat crackers and a favorite chunk fruit
Time and Grocery Dollars
For many families, busy work
and after-school schedules, can make balancing time difficult. Gadomski
recommends weekend preparation to save time on weekdays.
"I am a big proponent of batch preparing," she
said. "For example, on Sunday, you can cut up fruits and vegetables and package
into serving-size containers so they are easy to grab and go throughout the
Keeping healthy food on hand
is critical, so regular shopping is a key factor to success.
"Healthy choices cannot be
made if they are not available," Gadomski said. "You also can make them
affordable. Watch the circulars and grocery store apps for the best deals and crosscheck
them with your list."
Families also can save by
using coupons for packaged items, like cereals, and by sticking with in-season fruits
and vegetables and choosing the whole option versus pre-cut. The savings easily
can be $2 to $3, she said.
When choosing popular
breakfast staples, like cereal and bread, Gadomski warns parents to check the
"With grains, we want to aim
for at least half of what we consume to come from whole grain sources, for that
reason, it is important to look at the ingredients list. The first item listed
should be 100 percent whole wheat or 100 percent whole grain," she said. "We
also prefer it to have 8 grams or more of whole grains per serving. For cereal,
watch grams of sugar in relation to the serving size."
Gadomski added parents can
mix a whole-grain, unsweetened cereal with a more appealing lightly-sweetened cereal
to ease transition to the healthier choice. "Presenting new choices with a
familiar or favorite food is a great technique for parents."
Barr agrees it is important to
keep things positive and to build on a child's preferred foods.
"You do not want to be struggling
with conflicts over breakfast and miss the opportunity to send your child off with
a healthy start to the day," she said. "There are ways to make a good breakfast
work for your family."
For more information on healthy
habits and nutrition, contact your local University of Illinois Extension
office or visit http://web.extension.illinois.edu/dkk/.
Source: Jessica Gadomski, Extension Educator, SNAP-Ed, firstname.lastname@example.org