Diabetes and Children

Healthy Breakfast

Healthy Breakfast for School-Aged Children (ages 6 to12)
(Written by Nutrition Department - Dasman Diabetes Institute)

Eating a healthy breakfast is essential for school-aged children, as it may contribute to over one-third of their daily caloric intake.  Global scientific research has shown that school-aged children require a healthy breakfast every day to boost metabolism, improve school performances, and to feel a sense of satiety or fullness until their next snack or meal time.

The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that the school-aged children eat a wide variety of healthy foods, including five to nine servings of vegetables and fruits, at least six servings of grains (whole wheat, oats, barley, rice, quinoa), two to three servings of dairy products for healthy bones (milk, yogurts, all type of cheese), proteins (fish, eggs, poultry, lean meat), and healthy fats (monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats). They also recommend limiting the consumption of trans fats that are usually found hidden in popular children’s foods such as crackers, candies, cookies, and fried foods.

A healthy balanced breakfast provides essential nutrients for the human body. It should be rich in healthy nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats) that are necessary for energy production, growth and repair. It should also be rich in vitamins and minerals (Iron, Calcium, Vitamin B and Vitamin C) that are vital for healthy bones and teeth.

It is important to encourage school-aged children (ages 6-12) to eat a widely varied breakfast in order to sustain a balanced diet. However, keeping breakfast meals interesting and healthy can sometimes be difficult, especially when there is an abundance of unhealthy foods that are easily accessible to children in the school cafeterias, vending machines, and stores. In addition unhealthy foods are now being promoted in the media. The challenge is to create a healthy yet tempting and tasty breakfast, in order to maintain our children’s health and to establish healthy eating habits in the initial years of childhood.

Healthy breakfasts contain foods from at least three of the five food groups:

Fruit group: fresh whole fruit such as a banana, apple, or orange. Sliced fruit can be added to cereal, yoghurt, or oatmeal.
Vegetables group: spinach, mushroom, or green pepper can be added to an omelet or sandwich.
Grains groups: whole-grain bread, cereals, and oatmeal.
Milk group: semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, laban, yogurt, or cheese. If the child is lactose intolerant, it is better to choose lactose-free products.
Meat and beans group: eggs, lean meat, peanut butter, beans

The key words are variety and creativity. Try to think of ideas for healthy balanced breakfasts in advance, the results will pay off through helping our children grow healthily, improving their mental alertness and capacity for learning, boosting their immune system and avoiding obesity-related illnesses such as Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension, and some types of cancer.