It’s back to school season! Dietitian Erika Ochoa shares her expertise and breakfast ideas for kids.
What is according to you the most important meal when kids go back to school? And why?
All three meals are important. Skipping one or more may be counterproductive for a child’s development and performance at school. Nevertheless, breaking the long lasting night fast seems quite important. It helps kids to have higher and longer attention span at school and, thus, better performance at different tasks.
The longest fast of the day happens at night. When kids wake up their glucose reserve has ran out. Their bodies need to make use of fat and muscle mass so as to obtain energy. In order to have enough energy for school (which involves paying attention, solving difficult math problems, learning to read and write, memorizing, among other cognitive activities) children’s brains need to have glucose—since it is its favorite fuel—and the only way to get is by having breakfast.
Breakfast foods can be high in energy but poor in other nutrients, i.e. a sweet biscuit or some kind of pastry. This type of foods may break the fast and give an energy boost to children, however, they will be feeling hungry on the long run (or maybe not so long) and without enough energy needed for concentration at school.
Having a hearty and nutritious breakfast is essential. When we think of a hearty breakfast it may seem a four-time-meal or a buffet; however, what I want you to think of is a meal which contains all food groups: some fruit or vegetable (not juices), some protein (from legumes to animal products), and some cereal (think whole-grain instead of ready-to-eat breakfast cereals). A breakfast that includes all of these foods is hearty enough to get your kid running and thinking until lunch time, and avoid getting distracted by hunger.
How can you integrate yogurt in that meal? Do you have breakfast ideas for kids?
Yogurt is a very flexible food: you can use it for breakfast, in a salad, or even in desserts. To be honest, nowadays it is very hard to find time to prepare and eat hearty and nutritious breakfasts so we need to use foods that are quite handy to fulfill the recommendation.
I suggest including yogurt at breakfast as a protein-rich food, high in calcium, and with live cultures that are always helpful for your microbiota (more information on the Gut Microbiota for Health initiative’s website).
Breakfast ideas for kids that include yogurt? Children can eat yogurt on the go (drink it up on the way to school), just make it complete by having a fruit (banana or an apple) and some granola or oatmeal. Too complicated? You can make it a smoothie: 1 yogurt, some fruit and a few tablespoons of uncooked oatmeal.
Nowadays, you may find many cold-overnight-oatmeal recipes all over the net (check out Pinterest). Overnight-oatmeal is very useful for our hectic lives since you prepare it at night and it is ready to eat in the morning. Children love it because it can be done with lots of different fruits like raspberries, cranberries, banana, mango, peach, etc. You can make it even tastier if you add their favorite yogurt instead of milk.
If you rather have your kid sitting down at the table, have some fruit topped with yogurt, nuts, and wheat bran. Your child may find yoghurt more tempting than milk, thus, you can offer some toast with peanut butter and banana and yogurt for a drink.
As you can see yogurt is quite adaptable to different meals, recipes, and more importantly, to children’s likings.
What are your tips to mums to include yogurt as part of a healthy diet?
Throughout the day children have different cravings. Many times, they get candy and sugary-drinks that are energy-dense but quite far from being high in different nutrients. Yogurt is always a better idea. It may have sugar (usually a lot less than what a soda has) but it offers a variety of nutrients (protein, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin D, among others) that are needed and suitable for children.
Yogurt comes in a variety of flavors and presentations that may suit a child’s likings and preferences. If your kid is not fond of yogurt, maybe he has not tried enough.
Erika Ochoa Ortiz is Nutritionist with honors by the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. She has a PhD in Clinical Pediatrics Nutrition by the Instituto de Nutrición y Tecnología de los Alimentos from Chile. She has a Course of Integral Care for Prevalent Children Diseases at Hospital and a Certificate of Inborn Errors of Metabolism.
Erika is currently the Director of the Department Nutrition at the Tecnológico de Monterrey, Campus Ciudad de México and has her private practice at the Centro Médico ABC. As a teacher of the Certificate on Clinical Pediatrics Nutrition endorsed by the LASPGHAN, she collaborated for 2 years in a row with the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana of Bogotá in Colombia.
She has participated in different book chapters such as: “Antioxidants and Chronic Diseases” and “Nutritional Management in Neurological Patients”. She has also participated as national and international speaker with publications in different journals. As an expert nutritionist, she has written about “Nutritional suplements for overweight and obesity management” and “Nutritional Management in patients with Inborn Errors of Metabolism”.
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