March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
As a mom, you may have often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. After years of scientific research, it turns out that you may actually be right.
For kids, eating in the morning is essential for optimal school performance and overall health. Kids (and adults) who eat breakfast tend to do better at school (and work) and have healthier weights and cholesterol levels as well.
To refuel and rev-up your family for an energetic day, plan a power breakfast.
For most people, time is the biggest obstacle to eating in the morning. Here are three tried-and-true tips for beating the breakfast rush hour:
- Get ready the night before: Set the table with bowls and spoons for cereal. Get out a pan for pancakes or a blender for smoothies. Slice up some fruit and cheese.
- Keep it simple: Fancy breakfasts are wonderful when you have the time. On busy days, a sandwich, a slice of leftover veggie pizza, or low-fat yogurt with fruit work just fine.
- Pack to-go: If there's no time to eat at home, take your nutrition to-go. Pack a brown bag breakfast for the road – or see if your school offers a breakfast program.
- Carbohydrates: A high-octane carbohydrate energizes your body and brain for a busy day. Think cereal (hot or cold), bread, dinner rolls, tortillas, or even leftover rice or pasta. Choose whole grains for an extra nutrition punch (more fiber and nutrients).
- Protein: This is the missing link in most morning meals. Protein is what we need to go strong until lunch. Think a slice of Canadian bacon, an egg, a slice of lean deli meat or low-fat cheese, a container of low-fat yogurt, a scoop of low-fat cottage cheese, or a handful of nuts.
- Fruit: It's quick and easy to add color and nutrition to your breakfast with your favorite fruits. Think fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruit – like apples, berries, pears, bananas, grapefruit, kiwi, mangoes, oranges, or pineapple. Another great option is avocados. They are high in unsaturated (or "good") fat and contain vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin and beta carotene, which forms vitamin A.
Eat well in the a.m. and you and your family will be on the nutrition fast track for a high-energy day.