As a Dietitian, What Do MY Kids Eat For Breakfast?
As I Dietitian, I know people are constantly scrutinizing what I and my family eat. I'm not complaining; I get it. It's no different than when I examine the outfit of a personal stylist or the teeth of a dentist. We all have to represent our brand. In my case, however, it's not always easy to categorize food as "healthy" and "unhealthy." Certain foods have certain meanings or connotations to different people and can easily be judged as "bad" by one group and yet "good" by another. It can be so confusing!
I try not to judge people's foods choices (for the most part, I'm human), but I will admit I sometimes feel sad when I see the foods kids are accustomed to eating. I know in many cases it just happens; a few well-meaning trips for Happy Meals turn into a demanded lifestyle, for example. I remember all too well the WIC mom telling me all her kid would eat was McDonalds Chicken Nuggets and French fries. That must have required so many painful trips to the Golden Arches. But we as parents have a huge amount of control over what our kids eat. I think parents forget that. Heck, even I forget at times and let things go that I would rather not. We all do it.
Now, I have had the advantage of a lot of training in the area of childhood nutrition, so I knew early on that when I had kids I would be introducing a variety of healthy, whole foods and avoiding exposure to the unhealthy stuff as much as possible. That being said, do we have sugar in our house? Most certainly. Do we even have sugar-containing beverages from time to time? You better believe it. They had half an Odwalla smoothie and a smidge of Ginger beer today. Granted it has been an unusually warm week here in Seattle, so we let a few cold beverages slide. But thankfully that is not the norm and the kiddos know that.
My point is this: kids will eat healthy foods given the right structure and parental modeling. I'm not talking about kids with clear texture aversions or other conditions that cause anxiety or distress around certain foods. I'm talking about "most" kids that are simply taking advantage of their parents' lack of knowledge or willpower when it comes to diet.
So I know, you are still wondering, what do MY kids eat for breakfast. First, let me tell you what we don't eat. It's pretty simple. We don't eat cereal (yep, no Frosted Flakes around here), "white" bread products (bagels, English muffins, Wonder Bread, pancakes/waffles with white flour, etc), sugary yogurts, anything with artificial sweeteners, cereal bars, Pop Tarts, and heavily processed meats (sausage patties, cheap bacon, etc). Another thing we don't eat at breakfast? Vegetables. Uh oh, I know! We just don't eat veggies in the morning. I pick my battles and forcing savory fritattas and quiches is just not one of them. Believe me I've tried. It often works for lunch but not for breakfast. I try not to lose sleep over it.
Here's a list of what we DO eat:
• Whole grain waffles. I make buckwheat waffles with coconut oil almost weekly. They keep nicely in the fridge and we eat these for days. A little work up front and you have quick and easy breakfasts for days.
• Whole grain pancakes. Also often made with buckwheat flour or a mixture of non-gluten grains. For the record we aren't gluten-free or anything, I just like the variety.
• Oatmeal with hemp and flax seed, maybe some blueberries thrown in. Oh yes, I buy the packets, but I embellish them with these add-ons to boost the protein and healthy fats. Costco often sells the jumbo pack of gluten-free oatmeal packs, just so you know.
• Organic Greek yogurt with fruit, hemp and/or flax seeds, plus nuts and/or granola. Again, adding some protein and healthy fat in there, along with a smidge of fiber.
• Other "yogurts." Sometimes I make a big batch of coconut milk yogurt or rice milk yogurt cultured in my yogurt maker. This is mostly for me and the little one. He will eat anything. That being said, I have nothing against alternative yogurts sold in the stores. I just don't like paying for it.
• Chia "yogurt." This is a new one for us, but me and the little one love it. Soak coconut milk overnight with chia seeds, then add peaches and toasted nuts the next morning. SO good. The older one poo poo'd it, but whatever. Money-saving hint: get your canned coconut milk at Trader Joe's for ninety nine cents. Can you make breakfast any cheaper?
• Whole grain toast (usually Dave's Killer Bread) with almond butter and jam.
• Eggs. We eat a LOT of eggs. It's possible we could save a lot of money if we raised chickens. Unfortunately I refuse to have any animals. Isn't child caretaking enough?
• Bacon! My husband usually finds good quality bacon from our local butcher and the kids love it. It's more of a rarity, but certainly something we love to have on occasion.
• Fruit. Who doesn't love fresh fruit in the morning?
So there is a sampling of what we eat. Often we create different combinations of the items listed above. It has become what my husband now calls "breakfast extravaganza." He is pretty sure very few are putting as much time and effort into breakfast as we do (although I bet some of you do, right?), but clearly the kids love it and need it. Breakfast is by far their biggest meal of the day. It's satisfying to know we are starting their day off right. Did I mention my kids are the in the 75th percentile for height? Maybe it's due to breakfast... just a theory.
Danielle VenHuizen, MS, RD, CLT is a Registered Dietitian who helps her clients achieve health and vitality through food, not pharmaceuticals. She specializes in working with food sensitivities, Diabetes, Cardiovascular health, Digestive Disorders, and healthy pregnancies. For more expert health advice visit her blog at http://www.FoodSense.net