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.

Why My Kids’ School Lunch Is Unhealthy (+ What I’m Doing About It)

Why My Kids’ School Lunch Is Unhealthy (+ What I’m Doing About It)

When my older daughter started school three years ago, another mom in our community who already had kids in the school system gave me a word of caution: wait until you see what they serve for school lunch.

My husband and I had already decided that we would pack lunch from home because no matter what they served in school, we knew it wouldn’t be the healthy, homemade meals she was already eating.

Although I knew it wasn’t likely that the schools were serving roasted salmon and fresh green salads everyday, I never thought it would be as bad as it is.

When I took a look at the school lunch menu I was shocked.

Foods like hot dogs, tater tots and chocolate milk were on the menu every single week.

After the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 was passed, schools participating in the National School Lunch Program made some positive changes to their menus like adding more fruits and vegetables and whole grains, limiting the amount of calories and reducing the amount of sodium in meals.

Take a closer look at most school lunch menus however, and I’m sure you’ll find that just because the meals meet certain dietary requirements, the foods that are served are not foods our kids should be eating.

And now that the Trump administration has rolled back the school lunch standards, schools have even more flexibility to serve unhealthy foods that meet a budget but only worsen our kids’ health.

Although I can’t say that my kids’ school has relaxed the Obama-era standards, their menus still fall seriously short.

Here are some reasons why my kids’ school lunch is unhealthy and what I’m trying to do to improve it.

Junk food is served as a “snack”

My kids’ school encourages parents to have lunch with their kids, so from time to time I do.

Last year while I was sitting with my daughter in the cafeteria, one of the cafeteria aids walked up to the front of the room and with mic in hand, announced it was snack time.

“Snack?,” I asked my 5-year-old. It was only 15 minutes into their 30 minute lunch time.

When I hear the word snack, I think about something small that tides my kids over until the next meal and is most certainly something they eat between meals.

Yet what my kids’ school dubs a snack, is actually a junk food treat: chips, ice cream, popsicles crackers and cookies.

One of the foods they sell are Nacho Cheese Doritos.

Sure, it satisfies the National School Lunch Program guidelines because it has whole grains (corn), but it’s processed, made with GMOs and contains artificial ingredients and artificial food dyes.

Take maltodextrin, which has an even higher glycemic index than sugar and evidence suggests it can alter gut bacteria and lead to allergic reactions and food intolerances. This is definitely not something our kids should be eating, especially during the school day.

Oh and did I mention, less than 3 hours later when the kids are packing up for the day, they get another snack?

Most of the food is fake

Nearly all of the school lunch items that are offered are highly processed, made with factory-farmed animal products, and are frozen foods that come out of a package and are re-heated. 

Take a look at some of the foods they sell:

  • crispy chicken patty          
  • general tso’s chicken
  • beef nachos with tortilla chips 
  • hot dogs                  
  • tater tots
  • processed deli meats                                                  
  • popcorn chicken
  • chicken nuggets
  • mozzarella sticks
  • pizza
  • hamburgers and cheeseburgers
  • French toast sticks

While they do serve fruits and vegetables every day, it’s not exactly fresh. The packages of apple slices for example, are prepared with preservatives that give them a 21-day shelf life.

Totally unbalanced

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a healthy plate is made up of 1/2 fruits and vegetables, 1/4 protein and 1/4 whole grains.

In my kids’ school, the kids are required to pick a fruit or a vegetable, but I doubt it makes up half the plate. They do offer salads as the main dish every day, but I’m sure the amount of kids that purchase salads is negligible, if non-existent.

Besides, some of the meal options seem totally unbalanced and only meet the requirements.

Take the yogurt or a cheese stick with a bagel meal and the macaroni and cheese with a wheat bread stick meal—not exactly the healthy, balanced meals we should be teaching our kids to eat.

A lack of healthy fats

Healthy fats like those found in fish, avocado and olive oil are essential to kids health, but they’re not a major part of the school lunch menu. The one caveat? The sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwich.

Sugar everywhere

While fruits and vegetables and foods with whole grains are offered, the school lunch menu has several items that are high in sugar, including:


Free cookies

Despite how unhealthy the lunch menu is, my kids are allowed to purchase it every once in a while.

Although I want them to eat healthy, whole foods most of the time, I also don’t want school lunch to be a power struggle or something they think is forbidden, which can create unhealthy eating habits down the line.

Nevertheless, I was blindsided when my daughters told me that after purchasing lunch one day, they were given free cookies. As I came to learn, kids are given free cookies on Fridays and on their birthdays.

You might think I sound like an uptight mom, but I don’t understand why the school (or the food service provider) thinks it’s OK to give them cookies without my permission.

My kids can have cookies, but not during the school day.

Junk food is served as a “snack”

My kids’ school encourages parents to have lunch with their kids, so from time to time I do.

Last year while I was sitting with my daughter in the cafeteria, one of the cafeteria aids walked up to the front of the room and with mic in hand, announced it was snack time.

“Snack?,” I asked my 5-year-old. It was only 15 minutes into their 30 minute lunch time.

When I hear the word snack, I think about something small that tides my kids over until the next meal and is most certainly something they eat between meals.

Yet what my kids’ school dubs a snack, is actually a junk food treat: chips, ice cream, popsicles crackers and cookies.

One of the foods they sell are Nacho Cheese Doritos.

Sure, it satisfies the National School Lunch Program guidelines because it has whole grains (corn), but it’s processed, made with GMOs and contains artificial ingredients and artificial food dyes.

Take maltodextrin, which has an even higher glycemic index than sugar and evidence suggests it can alter gut bacteria and lead to allergic reactions and food intolerances. This is definitely not something our kids should be eating, especially during the school day.

Oh and did I mention, less than 3 hours later when the kids are packing up for the day, they get another snack?

Most of the food is fake

Nearly all of the school lunch items that are offered are highly processed, made with factory-farmed animal products, and are frozen foods that come out of a package and are re-heated. 

Take a look at some of the foods they sell:

  • crispy chicken patty          
  • general tso’s chicken
  • beef nachos with tortilla chips 
  • hot dogs                  
  • tater tots
  • processed deli meats                                                  
  • popcorn chicken
  • chicken nuggets
  • mozzarella sticks
  • pizza
  • hamburgers and cheeseburgers
  • French toast sticks

While they do serve fruits and vegetables every day, it’s not exactly fresh. The packages of apple slices for example, are prepared with preservatives that give them a 21-day shelf life.

Totally unbalanced

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a healthy plate is made up of 1/2 fruits and vegetables, 1/4 protein and 1/4 whole grains.

In my kids’ school, the kids are required to pick a fruit or a vegetable, but I doubt it makes up half the plate. They do offer salads as the main dish every day, but I’m sure the amount of kids that purchase salads is negligible, if non-existent.

Besides, some of the meal options seem totally unbalanced and only meet the requirements.

Take the yogurt or a cheese stick with a bagel meal and the macaroni and cheese with a wheat bread stick meal—not exactly the healthy, balanced meals we should be teaching our kids to eat.

A lack of healthy fats

Healthy fats like those found in fish, avocado and olive oil are essential to kids health, but they’re not a major part of the school lunch menu. The one caveat? The sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwich.

Sugar everywhere

While fruits and vegetables and foods with whole grains are offered, the school lunch menu has several items that are high in sugar, including:


Free cookies

Despite how unhealthy the lunch menu is, my kids are allowed to purchase it every once in a while.

Although I want them to eat healthy, whole foods most of the time, I also don’t want school lunch to be a power struggle or something they think is forbidden, which can create unhealthy eating habits down the line.

Nevertheless, I was blindsided when my daughters told me that after purchasing lunch one day, they were given free cookies. As I came to learn, kids are given free cookies on Fridays and on their birthdays.

You might think I sound like an uptight mom, but I don’t understand why the school (or the food service provider) thinks it’s OK to give them cookies without my permission.

My kids can have cookies, but not during the school day.

5 Foods With Healthy Fats Kids Will Love

5 Foods With Healthy Fats Kids Will Love

The long-standing myth that eating fat causes high cholesterol, heart disease and weight gain has been debunked and we now know that healthy fats are essential to our health and our kids.

Fats are a vital source of energy for our kids and help satisfy their hunger. Fats are essential for healthy cell membranes, they support kids’ brains and the growth and development of their nervous systems, and help their bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins like  A, D, E, and K. Fat are also necessary to make hormones and immune cells and they help regulate inflammation and metabolism.   

While experts agree it’s the trans fats and some saturated fats that should be avoided, foods with healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats from whole foods are beneficial.

Here are 5 foods with healthy fats you should consider getting in your kid’s diet.

1. Avocado

Avocado is a super-food because the polyunsaturated fats are vital for brain growth and development during pregnancy and for babies and children.

Avocado also packs in a ton of nutrition without a lot of calories.

A good source of fiber, avocado also has 20 vitamins and minerals including vitamins B5, B6, C, E, K, folate, iron, magnesium and potassium.

Avocado also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids or plant pigments, found in the eyes that can improve memory and processes speed, one study found.

Add avocado to salads, make avocado toast or an avocado chocolate pudding.

2. Chia seeds

An excellent source of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are by far one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

In fact, chia seeds are the highest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, which studies show support cardiovascular health, lower inflammation, prevent chronic disease, and support brain health.

Add chia seeds to smoothies, mix them into oatmeal, incorporate them into your favorite baking recipes or make a chia seed pudding.

A word of caution: young children shouldn’t eat chia seeds because of the risk of  an obstruction in the esophagus.

3. Walnuts

The only nut with a significant source of  alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid, walnuts are a great way to get healthy fats in your kid’s diet.

An excellent source of magnesium and phosphorus, one ounce of walnuts also have 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber which will satisfy your kid’s hunger and give him plenty of fuel during the day.

Walnuts make for an easy, healthy snack, or add them to salads, savory meals or mix them into breads, muffins and other baked goods.

4. Olives

Most of the healthy fats in olives (a fruit), are oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fat, but they also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Olives are also a good source of vitamin e, selenium and zinc.

Add olives to salads, pasta or rice dishes or make an olive tapenade kids can snack on before dinner.

5. Sunflower Seeds

An ounce of sunflower seeds has 14 grams of fat, including omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats.

Sunflower seeds are also rich in vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that protects cells from the damage of free radicals, as well as magnesium and selenium.

Add sunflower seeds to salads, on top of yogurt or make your own healthy trail mix.

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 Types of Fish For Kids (& How to Make Them Delicious)

5 Healthy Types of Fish For Kids (& How to Make Them Delicious)

If you’ve tried to feed your kids fish, chances are their reactions—yuck! and gross!—and the mealtime battle that ensued was enough of a reason to never offer it again. 

There’s no getting around that fish is right up there with other offensive foods like Brussels sprouts and beans, but if you can get your kids to take a few bites, they’ll get a ton of nutrition into their diets.

Packed with protein, low in saturated fat, and rich in micronutrients, perhaps the biggest benefit of eating fish are the omega-3 fatty acids which support kids’ brain health and memory.

According to a December 2017 study out of the University of Pennsylvania, kids who eat seafood at least once a week have higher IQ scores—4 points higher on average—than kids who eat fish less frequently or not at all.

Studies also show that omega-3’s may prevent anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses.

In fact, an October 2011 study in the Journal of the American Academy and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids has a small, but significant, effect on improving attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms.

Of course, there’s always the concern of mercury in fish, which types of fish are safe for kids and how many servings are best.

Before introducing fish and shellfish to your child, be sure to check in with your pediatrician because of the risk of food allergies.

Although all types of fish are packed with nutrition, there are some that you might consider focusing on.

These 5 healthy types of fish for kids are high in vitamins and minerals, excellent sources of protein and healthy fats and low in mercury.

1. Tuna fish

Thanks to its mild flavor and aroma, tuna is perhaps one of the easiest types of fish to get your kid to eat.

Tuna is an excellent source of protein: an ounce has more than 8 grams. Tuna fish is also a good source of vitamin B12, phosphorus, niacin and selenium.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), canned light tuna (solid or chunk, including skipjack) is a “best choice” for kids.

White albacore and yellow fish are both considered a “good” choice, but because they’re higher in mercury, stick to one serving a week.

Serve tuna in a sandwich, lettuce wrap or in a green salad.

2. Salmon

To get dinner on the table almost every night, I tend to stick to the basics and serve many of the same meals.

Since it’s so easy and fast, salmon has become my go-to meal on Monday when we’re off to the races of a busy week.

Salmon is an excellent source of protein and a good source of niacin, vitamins B6 and B12 and selenium.

It’s also versatile enough to serve at any meal, not only dinner. Serve leftover salmon on toast for breakfast or make an omelet. Canned salmon also works well in a sandwich or a lettuce wrap for lunch.

3. Anchovies

My kids love anchovies as much as I do and actually fight over who gets more when we crack open a can.

Although anchovies are definitely a type of food anyone—including adults—either love or hate, they’re one of the healthiest types of fish for kids.

A good source of protein, anchovies are also rich in iron, niacin, selenium, magnesium and phosphorus.

An ounce of anchovies provide 7 percent of the daily value for calcium, which helps build strong, healthy bones and teeth.

Since they can be an acquired taste and are high in sodium, try adding small amounts to pizza, pasta and rice dishes, and chopped salads.

4. Sardines

Sardines are another type of fish my kids started to eat regularly after they saw me eating them and asked to have a taste.

A good source of protein, calcium, vitamins B12 and D, phosphorus and selenium, sardines are less pungent that anchovies but still packed with plenty of nutrition.

Fresh or canned, you can grill or sauté sardines, add a small amount of mayonnaise just like you would with tuna fish or add them to pasta and rice dishes.

5. Scallops

With a mild and slightly sweet flavor and soft, buttery texture, scallops are another healthy type of fish that kids may be more likely to try.

Scallops are an excellent source of protein, phosphorus and selenium and a good source of vitamin B12, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and copper. Scallops are also a good source of zinc, which supports a healthy immune system.

Kids like bite-sized foods and since scallops are so small, try serving them as an appetizer or paired with a dipping sauce.