Are you modeling healthy habits for your children? Health promotion begins one individual at a time, and mothers are the gatekeepers of the good habits within a family. From the food she selects at the grocery store to meal preparation and encouraging physical activities, Mom's behavior is a signal to the kids about making good choices. Your child is observing, and your choices should be setting up your child to live a healthy lifestyle.
Did you know a nutritious breakfast provides one-fourth of a child's daily nutrient needs?
"Children who skip breakfast seldom make up for the nutrients they missed out on later in the day," says lifestyIe and wellness consultant Jasmine Jafferali, MPH, ACE-CPT.
Talk to your kids about the relationship between eating a good breakfast and the way they feel. Let them know that fueling up the right way will help them focus, concentrate, behave in the classroom, solve problems and learn.
No time for breakfast? The morning rush — getting ready for work and school — is usually a chaotic time for most families, but kids need a healthy breakfast, and so do their moms! If preparing a healthy meal is a struggle, try starting your day just 10 minutes earlier and teach your children how important it is to start the day the healthy way.
Jafferali says kids need at least 7 grams of protein in the morning — the equivalent of one egg, one tablespoon of nut butter or a 4- to 6-ounce serving of 2 percent–fat Greek Yogurt.
"Protein helps to stabilize blood sugars so there are no early-morning or midafternoon crashes," says Jafferali. "When blood sugars crash, it compromises kids' ability to focus and sit still, and it throws off their behavior. Kids will get more whiny and will fight more with their peers, especially at a younger age."
Plan ahead and keep your kitchen stocked with easy-prep breakfast items like whole-grain bagels, toast and waffles. Fill the fridge with toppings including fruit, peanut butter and low-fat cream cheese. Making smoothies with frozen berries, Greek yogurt and honey can be a quick way to blend up a protein-packed breakfast on hectic mornings.
Demonstrating a healthy lifestyle makes Mom the role model. Your children are watching your eating habits and will learn to mimic them. Discuss the importance of starting the day with a healthy breakfast with your kids — then live that example. Have breakfast together with your kids as often as possible so your children can see that you practice what you preach!
Jasmine Jafferali, creator of the Snack Smart Solutions App, says most parents don't realize cereal is not filling for kids. "It lacks protein and good fats to help stabilize blood sugars," she says.
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