Just how important is breakfast for your little ones? MH speaks to the experts.
WORDS RACHEL LIM
Hear from Dr Rajeev Ramachandran, consultant, Division of General Ambulatory Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, National University Hospital and Tan Eu-Jzin, health promotion manager, Health Promotion Board (HPB), about the most important meal of the day for your little ones.
Why is it Important for Kids to Eat Breakfast?
Dr Ramachandran reiterates the rhetoric, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast recharges the brain and body, and provides kids with the energy for the activities during the morning.” He observes that children who eat a healthy breakfast tend to show improved academic performance, longer attention span, better attendance and decreased hyperactivity in school.
Research on kids’ nutrition has also concurred that it is important for kids to have their breakfasts for two main reasons. Firstly, breakfast helps to keep your kid’s weight in check.
Breakfast kick-starts the child’s metabolism and when their metabolism
gets going, their little bodies start to burn calories.
Secondly, breakfast increases the likelihood of kids participating in physical activities. Without breakfast, kids may feel tired, restless or irritable. They need to refuel after abstinence from food for eight to 12 hours of night sleep. Kids’ moods and energy can drop drastically by midmorning if they do not have a morning meal. Tan adds that having breakfast sets the tone for the day and good habits will lead to an overall healthier lifestyle.
What’s for Breakfast?
Dr Ramachandran opined that eating something for breakfast is always better than eating nothing at all. He adds, “The more balanced your meal is, the better off you will be. Just like with other meals, try to eat a variety of foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dry beans, nuts and seeds), and dairy products (milk, cheese, and yoghurt).”
Try to discard these foods from your kids’ breakfast menus:
Processed meat such as bacon, hot dogs and ham are high in sodium and preservatives. They are ranked alongside smoking as a major cause of cancer according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Sugared cereal contains as high as 50 per cent sugar and have no fibre at all. If sugared cereal is served to your children for breakfast, it takes up their sugar allocation for the entire day.
Artificial food colouring/dyes in foods such as rainbow sprinkled doughnuts or rainbow cakes are linked to hyperactive behaviours in children.
Eating Clean for Breakfast
Tan suggests for parents to use My Healthy Plate as a guide to planning breakfasts for their kids. My Healthy Plate is designed by HPB, especially for Singaporeans.
My Healthy Plate is a friendly, easy-to-understand visual guide for
creating balanced and healthy meals, and it makes it easier to pick up
healthy eating habits that can help you and your kids better manage
weight and ward off chronic diseases.
Tan highlights that My Healthy Plate has a focus on calcium. Not only does calcium strengthen bones and teeth, an adequate lifelong intake also reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Be sure to include milk, yoghurt and cheese in your kid’s breakfast as they are great sources of calcium.