7 Ways to Get Your Kids To Eat a Healthy Breakfast

7 Ways to Get Your Kids To Eat a Healthy Breakfast

You’ve heard the old saying, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but when it comes to our kids, most don’t eat it.

According to an August 2017 study in the British Journal of Nutrition, only about one-third of kids eat breakfast every day, 17 percent never eat breakfast and the rest only eat breakfast a fews days a week.

If your kid doesn’t like to eat first thing in the morning, doesn’t have time for breakfast or doesn’t like what you’re serving, don’t give up.

Here, learn some simple strategies to get your kids to eat a healthy breakfast every day.

1. Make breakfast family time

If you’re rushed in the morning to get your kids out the door and they’re feeling the pressure, they may feel too anxious to eat breakfast.

Instead of stressing out, carve out enough time for breakfast, even if it means the beds don’t get made or the dishes are left in the sink.

You can also make breakfast an opportunity to spend some quality time as a family together, especially if you don’t eat dinner as a family.

Read a Bible verse, ask your kids what they’re grateful for, or talk about your plans for the weekend. 

2. Don’t eat a late dinner

After-school activities can make it tough to eat dinner on time, but if your kids are eating dinner late, they may not be hungry for breakfast.

Try to feed your kids before you head out to activities and discourage after-dinner snacking so they’ll have an appetite come morning.

3. Do some easy meal prep

If there’s no time to make breakfast in the morning, make it ahead of time.

Set aside individual re-sealable bags of fruits and veggies for smoothies, make overnight oats or parfaits in mason jars, boil a batch of hard-boiled eggs, or make a frittata, egg casserole, or egg “muffins” at the beginning of the week or the night before. 

4. Let them decide

Cereal and toast are easy options for breakfast but if your kid is more likely to eat leftovers for breakfast, then go with it.

Pair a protein with veggies or a piece of fruit, serve soup, or mix leftover rice with coconut milk, nuts, cinnamon and a drizzle of honey to break out of the breakfast rut.

Another way to give kids choices is to make something easy like oatmeal, and then let your kid choose the spices, nuts, seeds, and fresh or dried fruit.

5. Wake up earlier

Little kids are up early anyway, but if your kids are older and they like to sleep in until the last possible minute, they probably don’t eat breakfast because there’s no time.

An easy fix? Try moving their bedtime back a half an hour or so until they can wake up in time.

6. Take the lead

No surprise here, but only 47 percent of adults in the U.S. eat breakfast every day, according to a 2015 survey by Instantly.

Although you may think mornings are hectic enough, carving out time to eat a healthy breakfast may encourage your kids to do the same.

7. Serve a morning snack

If your kid isn’t a breakfast eater, stick to small bites.

Serve 4 or 6 ounces of a green smoothie, apple slices with almond butter, mini muffins, energy bites or raw vegetables with hummus.

What are some of your tricks to get your kids to eat a healthy breakfast? Let me know in the comments.

7 Nutrition Mistakes All Parents Make

7 Nutrition Mistakes All Parents Make

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links from Amazon Associates. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I recommend these products either because I use them or because companies that make them are trustworthy and useful.

We all want our kids to eat healthy, but between food marketing, brands that tout health claims and some outdated advice from experts, deciding what to feed your kids and what to avoid can be challenging.

Although most of us are well intentioned and try our best to offer healthy foods, there are still some common nutrition mistakes all parents make that can affect kids’ health now, and well into the future. Here are 7.

Nutrition mistake #1: Serving only “breakfast foods” for breakfast

Let’s face it: if you have young kids, mornings are stressful.

I get it.

Most mornings, I’m up at 5am to pray, read a devotional and enjoy a cup of coffee—and quiet—before my kids get up.

Once they’re awake however, it’s always a mad rush to feed them breakfast, get them ready and on the bus.

Cereal and toast are definitely easy and quick options for breakfast, but serving the same ‘ol breakfast foods every day can be a missed opportunity to get nutrition into your kid’s diet. Not to mention—it can get boring.

If you think out of the [breakfast] box and offer new types of foods, kids can also become healthier, more adventurous eaters.

Since lunch and dinner may be the only time kids are offered vegetables, breakfast is another chance to get them into your kid’s diet. The more you offer vegetables, the more likely your kid will be to eat them.

It’s not necessary to re-invent the wheel every day, but try to change things up a few times a week. Add leftover veggies to scrambled eggs, make chia seed or pumpkin pudding the night before, pull together a bean burrito or serve baked tempeh instead of toast, for example. 

Nutrition mistake #2: Filling up on processed snacks

We must recognize that our kids are growing—physically, mentally and emotionally—and what we feed them should be real, whole foods packed with nutrition to fuel that growth.

Bags of crackers, chips, cookies and other snack foods are easy to throw in a lunch box or pack when you’re on the go.

But processed snacks are usually made with refined carbohydrates and are high in sugar, sodium and artificial ingredients. They also lack the protein, fiber and vitamins and minerals kids need.

Do your best to avoid processed foods and instead, stick to whole foods for snacks. For ideas, check out my blog post, Healthy Kids’ Snacks 101: When, What and How Much

Nutrition mistake #3: Thinking all yogurt is healthy

Yogurt is an excellent source of protein, which promotes satiety and can prevent weight gain. It’s also a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B12 as well as probiotics, the healthy bacteria that boost kids’ gut health and strengthens their immune systems.

Yet many yogurts, those that are marketed to kids or otherwise, are also sneaky sources of sugar.

Yogurts with pretzels, candy and crushed cookies are obvious sources, but those that are blended with fruit can also be high in sugar.

Read labels carefully and stick to brands with less than 11 grams of sugar, according to nutritionist Joy Bauer.

Siggi’s is one of my favorites for kids. Or serve plain Greek yogurt and add fresh fruit for a hint of sweetness and fiber.

Nutrition mistake #4: Missing sneaky sources of sugar

You already know to limit foods that are obvious sources of sugar like candy, cookies and ice cream, but sugar is sneaky and can hide behind at least 61 different names like fruit juice, cane sugar, sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup.

Foods like dried fruit, canned fruit and fruit cups, salad dressings, BBQ sauce, ketchup, juice, sports drinks, granola, instant oatmeal and cereal can all be sneaky sources of sugar.

Nutrition mistake #5: Avoiding all types of fat

Childhood obesity is an epidemic in the U.S. and as a result, parents are consistently told to limit the amount of fat in their kids’ diets and serve low-fat dairy and lean cuts of meat, for example.

Although experts say trans fats and some saturated fats should be avoided, foods with healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats from whole foods like fish, avocado, nuts and seeds and olive oil are all essential to kids health.

Nutrition mistake #6: Labeling foods “good” or “bad”

Labeling foods “good” or “bad” can turn mealtime into a power struggle and make your kid want the poor choices even more.

Teaching kids about healthy eating includes teaching balance. So although there are healthier choices, it’s OK to indulge in sweets and junk food.

When food is off limits, it can also create the same unhealthy eating habits many adults struggle with down the line.

Instead, talk to your children about making healthy choices and why they matter. For example, choosing celery sticks with almond butter will give your kid the energy she needs for sports while a bag of crackers will cause her to crash.

Nutrition mistake #7: Cutting carbs

Low carb diets like keto are all the rage for people looking to lose weight, but cutting some carbohydrates from a kid’s diet is a nutrition mistake. Check out my blog post, Is Keto Safe For Kids?

Refined carbohydrates like those found in white breads, pastas and rice and processed foods should be limited because they break down into simple sugars easily, cause blood sugar levels to spike and don’t satiate hunger—which might be one of the reasons your kid is always hungry.

Complex carbohydrates on the other hand, provide kids with the energy they need and support their muscle growth and brain development. They also take longer to break down, which keeps blood sugar levels steady.

Complex carbs are also high in fiber which satisfy hunger and prevent constipation.

Offer a variety of foods with complex carbohydrates including vegetables like pumpkin, squash, and sweet potatoes, fruits like berries, apples and pears, beans and legumes and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa which are also high in B vitamins, magnesium and iron.

Healthy Kids’ Snacks 101: When, What and How Much

Healthy Kids’ Snacks 101: When, What and How Much

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links from Amazon Associates. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I recommend these products either because I use them or because companies that make them are trustworthy and useful.

In the U.S., our kids snack all the time.

Kids eat snacks at daycare, pre-school, mom’s groups and on playdates.

They snack in their strollers, in the car, on the playground and after sports.

At school, young kids have a mid-morning or afternoon snack.

At my kids’ elementary school, some parents pack lunch along with several snacks like “veggie” sticks, crackers, pretzels and fruit-flavored gummies.

Starting in the first grade, kids can also buy “snack,” in the cafeteria. About 15 minutes after purchasing their lunch, they’re called up to get cookies, ice cream and chips.

Of course, there are also after-school snacks and after-dinner snacks.

Snacking is often seen as a healthy habit because it balances blood sugar, staves off hunger and prevents overeating, but it’s often used to keep kids occupied and happy.

Plus, experts say kids are snacking too much—a trend that’s responsible for the one-third of children who are overweight or obese.   

According to a March 2010 study in Health Affairs, kids reach for snacks 3 times a day and consume up to 600 calories from foods like chips, crackers and candy. What’s more, the largest increase in snacking over the years is among kids between ages 2 and 6, the same study found.

So you may have wondered, like I did, do kids need snacks in the first place? And if so, what is a healthy snack and how often should kids snack? Here, answers to those questions and more.

Do kids need snacks?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), snacks are not only an opportunity to support your child’s diet, but they can make it even healthier.

Most kids don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables every day anyway, but snack time can be a way to pack in more.

Snacks also give kids plenty of opportunities to learn what they like to eat—

and what they don’t—and chances to choose healthy foods and eventually become adventurous eaters.

Some experts however, challenge whether kids even need snacks in the first place.

“When I was a child no one snacked mid-morning and we all survived just fine. I don’t even remember being especially hungry. In other words, snacking is a philosophy. It’s an approach to eating. It’s a lifestyle. It’s not a necessity,” Dina Rose, PhD, author of It’s Not About The Broccoli says in this blog post.

Another drawback to non-stop snacking is that kids are less likely to be hungry when mealtime rolls around. If they’re snacking on junk food, it can displace calories from healthy foods which they’re more likely to get at meals. 

What is a healthy snack?

Surprisingly, there’s actually no static definition of a snack. Research shows it can be defined according to the time of day, type of food, amount of food, and location of where the food is consumed.

Generally speaking however, a kids’ snack is a small amount of food that satisfies hunger between meals and a way to add nutrition and increase fruit and vegetable intake in their diets.

With so many snack food labels calling attention to health claims like all-natural, organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, high in fiber, made with real fruit, no sugar added and sugar-free, it can be difficult to choose a healthy snack for your kids.

Although it’s not always realistic to avoid processed foods, snacks in bags, boxes and packages are usually high in sugar, sodium and artificial ingredients, and low in fiber and protein and overall poor sources of nutrition.

A good rule of thumb: stick to whole foods and nutrient-dense options. Some good choices include:

  • Fruits and vegetables (fresh or frozen)
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Seeds
  • Edamame
  • Beans and legumes
  • Hummus, bean dip or guacamole
  • Avocado
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Popcorn
  • Green smoothies (homemade, otherwise read labels)
  • Homemade, low-sugar muffins, energy bites and other baked goods.

How often should kids snack?

Just as there’s no clear-cut definition of a snack, there’s no hard and fast rule about when and how many times a day kids should have snacks.

“A good rule of thumb is to offer snacks a few hours after one meal ends and about 1-2 hours before the next meal begins,” Jo Ellen Shields, MED, RD, LD, co-author of Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight for Kids and Teens, said in this article.

The AAP suggests toddlers need 2 to 3 snacks a day, while pre-schoolers need 1 to 2 snacks per day to get the nutrition they need.

According to Jill Castle, RDN, in addition to 3 meals a day, school-aged kids need 1 to 2 snacks a day and teens need one snack a day unless they’re athletes or having a growth spurt.

When offering snacks, you should also pay attention to portion sizes so the snack doesn’t turn into a meal.

How do you handle snack time? And how many snacks a day does your kid eat? Let me know in the comments!

5 Healthy Foods I Buy Every Week

5 Healthy Foods I Buy Every Week

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links from Amazon Associates. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I recommend these products either because I use them or because companies that make them are trustworthy and useful.

While I enjoying going to the mall to shop for new clothes just like the next mom, perusing the aisles of the grocery store and specialty food market to check out new products is my guilty pleasure.

If my kids are with me however, I’m hyper-focused on getting in and out of the store as soon as possible.

It seems that they inevitably ask for something that isn’t on the list, but if they spot a vegetable they’ve never tried, I’m happy to buy it. Allowing them to make choices and explore new foods is a great way to teach kids about healthy eating.

Since life is so hectic, I also have to make sure I keep meals simple. I usually spend some time on the weekends to roast vegetables, make a large vat of lentils for school lunches and bake gluten-free bread.

Sticking with many of the same foods and meals each week takes the guesswork out of meal planning and makes my life less stressful.

While we often purchase a new type of fish, try new spices or test out new recipes, there are 5 healthy foods I buy every week that make healthy eating a breeze.

1. Salad


When salad starts to run low in the refrigerator, I start to feel a bit uneasy. I know,

it sounds completely ridiculous, but our family eats a lot of salad and I rely on it to make meals fast.

Salad is of course healthy, but it’s also one of the quickest meals you can make for lunch and dinner.

With my wood chopping bowl and mezzaluna set, it’s super-easy to chop and mix everything right in the bowl without having to pull out a chopping board. I add lettuce, raw vegetables and avocado, pair it with a protein and I have a meal ready in no time.


2. Avocado


High in fiber and healthy fats, and packed with nutrition, avocado is a superfood for kids and a must-have in my kitchen.

I add avocado to salads, serve it with eggs, or make guacamole in my Vitamix.

You can also make avocado toast, add it to smoothies, use it to make homemade salad dressing, or swap it for mayonnaise or butter in baking recipes.


3. Beans


We eat a lot of plant-based foods so beans are something I buy every week.

Beans are high in both protein and fiber and an excellent source of folate, zinc, iron and magnesium. They’re also rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that fights inflammation.

I usually serve beans with green leafy vegetables, add them to salads, or make bean burgers or beans and rice.

4. Eggs


Eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids which is why my family eats them every day.

They’re an excellent source of protein and high in lutein, B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.

Eggs lend themselves to so many easy and delicious recipes too.

In addition to scrambled eggs and omelets, I’ll make a vegetable frittata or quiche, egg “fried” rice or egg salad. A large batch of hard-boiled eggs stocked in the refrigerator are also great to have on hand for grab-and-go snacks.

5. Bananas

Bananas are a great source of potassium and vitamin B6, and also a good source of fiber: 1 small banana has 2.6 grams.

When my older daughter walks into the kitchen in the morning, she immediately reaches for a banana to eat with her breakfast.

I also use bananas for my morning smoothies, add them to overnight oats or incorporate them into baked goods so I usually buy two bunches every week. If some start to over-ripen, I pop them in the freezer to use later or to whip up a dairy-free treat.

What are some healthy foods you buy every week? Let me know in the comments!

How I Lost The Baby Weight Twice

How I Lost The Baby Weight Twice

When I was pregnant with my first child, I gained more than 40 pounds—something I attribute to eating whatever and whenever I wanted.

A bagel and cream cheese was my go-to breakfast and chocolate was an everyday indulgence.

I mistakenly thought—as many women do—that I should be eating for two.

When there was a family gathering or party, I wouldn’t think twice about taking an extra treat because, I figured I was pregnant and I deserved it.

As my belly grew, the number on the scale got higher and I moved into the final weeks of pregnancy however, people would ask me, are you sure you’re not having twins?

Not exactly what a pregnant mom wants to hear.

When you look at the research, it turns out that my weight gain, albeit unhealthy, was on par with other women. According to a June 2017 meta-analysis in JAMA, 47 percent of women gain more than the Institute of Medicine guidelines.

Gaining too much weight during pregnancy is linked to a host of pregnancy complications, problems during labor and delivery and postpartum health conditions.

Unfortunately, studies also show that after pregnancy, the pounds linger.

According to a January 2015 study in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, 75 percent of new moms weigh more a year after giving birth than they did before they became pregnant. In fact, 47 percent were 10 pounds overweight while 24 percent were 20 pounds overweight.

Of course, losing the weight reduces your risk for obesity, chronic health conditions, and things like high blood pressure and gestational diabetes during subsequent pregnancies.

By the time I became pregnant with my second child, I knew a lot more about pregnancy nutrition and by making healthy choices and not overeating, my weight gain was within normal range.

Although the weight was slower to come off the second time around, by eating healthy, exercising and a few other tricks, I lost the baby weight with both pregnancies. Here’s how I did it.

Breastfeed

The day I left the hospital with my first child, the nurse told me, if you breastfeed, the weight will come off in no time.

I had already made the decision to breastfeed because of all the amazing benefits, so I figured if that was the case, even better.

It turns out, that nurse was right.

I found that when I was breastfeeding I was ravenous all the time and I definitely ate when I was but by 6 months, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight.

It’s definitely not a hard and fast rule, but exclusive breastfeeding can torch some serious calories—up to 500 calories a day or the equivalent of running 6 miles!

According to a December 2014 study in the journal Preventative Medicine, women who exclusively breastfed for at least 3 months, lost 3 pounds (by the year mark) compared to women who didn’t breastfeed or breastfeed exclusively.

Yet other studies have shown that breastfeeding may not lead to weight loss, since the hormone prolactin increases appetite and may lead women to consume too many calories.

Obviously, the decision to breastfeed shouldn’t be because of weight loss, but it could be an awesome extra benefit.

 

Eat whole foods

When you have a new baby at home, having time to cook, much less eat a meal can seem impossible.

A granola bar or a bag of crackers can help when you’re on the go, but if you’re relying on processed snacks all day, you’re not giving your body the nutrition it needs to lose the baby weight in a healthy way.

To lose the baby weight, I focused on eating whole foods which are not only packed with nutrition but also stave off hunger. Eating a salad every day for lunch proved a great way for me to stay on track.

I also made it a point to get plenty of protein, green leafy vegetables and healthy fats from foods like avocado, nuts and seeds.

Exercise

After you have a baby, going to the gym is one healthy habit that can easily be put on the back burner.

Between back-to-back feedings, diaper changes, laundry and fighting through fatigue, working out is the last thing on your mind.

And if you have postpartum depression like I did, getting out of the house can be a struggle.

Yet after you get the green light from your provider to start exercising again, usually around 6 weeks postpartum, it’s one of the best things you can do not only to lose the baby weight but also for your health and your mood.

In the first few weeks of bringing my daughter home, I’d put her in the stroller and take walks in the neighborhood. When I was cleared to work out again, I started walking on the treadmill, then running and lifting weights.

If the gym isn’t your thing, there are so many ways to get in a workout.

Try the free or subscription-based workout apps or head to the park with your baby. At the very least, getting out prevents isolation and can help you meet other like-minded moms.

Don’t diet

To shed the baby weight, I never thought that what I was doing was a diet.

I didn’t count calories or put restrictions on what I was eating, although I did follow the WW (previously Weight Watchers) plan—more for the accountability than anything.

I knew that diets don’t work—it has to be a lifestyle—so I focused on giving my body what it needed—whole, nutritious foods. I ate when I was hungry, kept my portion sizes in check and always left room for treats.

Eat snacks

When you’re trying to lose weight, many experts say to stick to 3 square meals a day—no snacking allowed.

Since I was breastfeeding however, snacks helped to satisfy my hunger, especially between lunch and dinner and prevented overeating at meals. Also, since I have anxiety, low blood sugar is never a good thing, especially when caring for a baby and running around.

Experts recommend exclusively breastfeeding moms need an extra 300-500 calories, which can be built into your diet with snacks.

Drink water

Any time you’re trying to lose weight, experts will advise you to drink plenty of water. According to National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, women should aim for 2.7 liters, while lactating women should get more—

3.1 liters a day.

Thirst can often look like hunger so drinking up before reaching for something to eat can help you decide whether you’re hungry or not.

According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine, overweight women who drank an additional 500 ml of water 30 minutes before meals lost weight and fat and lowered their body mass indexes (BMI).

Since water takes up space in the stomach, it promotes fullness and can stave off hunger. It also helps to metabolize carbohydrates and stored fat in the body and can keep your energy levels up so you’re less likely to reach for something to eat.

One trick that helped me to drink enough was to re-fill a re-usable water bottle and carry it with me everywhere I went.