There's an old adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. For adults, I don't necessarily agree.
Personally, I've found that skipping breakfast and often lunch as well has been a very effective strategy for me. It helps to control calorie intake, maintain a healthy body-composition and keeps me mentally alert through out the day.
My clients and students have found the same to be true.
And no, skipping meals does not "slow down" your metabolism. Can frequent eating increase your metabolism? Well technically, yes. But, you must eat 16-17 times per day for that to take effect.
Skipping one or more meals a day makes it difficult to "lead by example" when it comes to our kids eating habits.
Here are my 5 tips to help your child start the day right with a healthy breakfast.
1. Add breakfast back into your routine. Be a role model and eat a healthy breakfast with them. I've found the easiest approach is to eat the exact same thing as my daughter and have minimal variety from day to day.
When she was younger, I added breakfast back into my routine.
We essentially ate the same thing everyday: Eggs, Cheese and Fruit. It's a meal that's high in protein, high in fat, but still has some sugar to satisfy the taste buds.
The variety came from the preparation of the eggs, type of cheese and selection of fruit.
For example: scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, strawberries.
Now that she's older, I'm back to skipping breakfast, but she's continued the same eating habit.
2. Wake up earlier. I typically wake up 2-3 hours before the rest of the house so that my needs are met. I'll walk for 3-4 miles, have tea, send and respond to emails, and set my intentions for the day. This removes a ton of stress from the morning rush and we'll have time to prepare and eat breakfast. However, you may only need to plan on waking 10-15 minutes earlier
3. Prepare the night before. Clothes are picked out. School Bag is packed. Ingredients are in the fridge. That way, most of what's needed is ready to go in the morning. Less rushing means better eating.
4. Don't let them snack at night. I have a couple of thoughts on this. I've noticed this more about delaying bed time than real hunger. Sometimes kids will use every stalling tactic they can think of. In a way, it's quite endearing since they want to spend more time with us. Well, we need to make sure we're spending the quality time with them. (Turn off the phone, turn off the TV, unplug from the office, etc).
If the hunger is real, then the focus should be on eating a healthier and more sizable evening meal. Kids get distracted easily. Eating a complete meal takes some patience.
Finally, a little bit of hunger is a good thing. As I hinted earlier, I'm a proponent of fasting. Or, at least going prolonged periods without eating. It's better for the body and better for the mind. Kids should be set on a similar path of discipline and good habits. They'll learn they don't need to snack just because they feel a little hungry.
5. Quantity and Quality of food matters. We've all been there and have had this thought. "I'm just glad they ate something." Especially with the younger kids, we know an over hungry or over tired child is not a pleasant one.
However, over time we need to make sure they have good eating habits. And, we can't wait until they're adults to create these habits.
Being overweight or being obese is a problem for adults in America. And, it's quickly becoming a problem for children too.
Childhood obesity rates have almost tripled in the last three decades. Long term concerns include: metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease (Colorado Cancer Center 2/12/2014). The list is quite long actually, these are just the top 4.
And, many of these diseases won't present until adulthood, when it can be very difficult to make the necessary lifestyle changes.
Finally, exercise and an active lifestyle is an important part of all of this too.
Martial arts is an activity that travels with you for your entire life. You can practice with just a few people, a team or by yourself. It has no off-season and doesn't have to be competitive.
The critical standard is yourself. Are you better today, than you were yesterday?
No? OK, Keep practicing.
Yes? Great! Keep practicing. :-)
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PS. HERE are some simple guidelines for creating healthy breakfasts from Head Strong ON! Coach Alyssa DiNatale