Make Your Breakfast Choices Healthier!
Why do we eat sugary, syrupy, sweet foods for breakfast? Whose idea was that?
I think it was the food industry's idea to sell more highly processed, cheap sugar and grains.
Why Are High-Carbohydrate Breakfast Foods a Problem?
When you eat sugar, bread, grains, high-carbohydrate foods, your digestive system breaks down the carbohydrates into the simplest sugar, glucose, raising blood sugar. This is a signal to the pancreas to produce insulin and escort that glucose into cells where it is used as fuel. Blood sugar lowers, sometimes too low. If it goes too low, there's a signal to eat more because blood sugar is too low!
Have you – or your child – ever had a ‘sugar crash'? This is when lots of sugar is eaten at once, lots of insulin is released to pull that sugar into cells, then low energy and fatigue occur because the sugar in the blood has dipped too low.
Unfortunately, when we load up with too much sugar at once, we can get that sugar crash, get the ‘low blood sugar' symptoms like irritability (or downright anger), lightheaded or faint.
I remember that happening once to me when I was around 11 or 12 years old, sleeping over at my cousin's house. It happened in the morning before I even ate breakfast. I was so busy playing with my sisters and cousins, that we just skipped breakfast. My blood sugar went so low that I felt light-headed, faint, and nauseous. I told my aunt I didn't feel good and needed to sit down. Shortly after that, she fed me something for breakfast! And then I was completely fine.
Especially if you have a non-verbal child or someone who can't tell you if they are feeling pain or dizzy or any other feeling, you should make sure they have good food at regular intervals. And by good food, I don't mean sugary snacks or processed foods.
A High Fat, High Protein Breakfast Makes a Big Difference
Carbohydrates, including grains that break down into sugar quickly – give us quick energy, but won't last more than an hour or two.
Protein breaks down slower than carbohydrates, giving us sustained energy over 3-4 hours, until we have that next meal.
Healthy fats do the same. They actually feed our cells in a different way, helping us maintain our energy longer and with less up and down blood sugar levels.
Going up and down with blood sugar is taxing for insulin and our body in general, and eventually can lead to insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes.
This is when there's so much sugar in the blood and insulin has a hard time getting it into the cells. They refuse to take in the sugar because they have enough. With all the excess sugar, the body stores it in fat cells, kind of like savings for a rainy day (when the body needs fuel but doesn't have food).
This is why we want to feed our kids healthy protein and fats at breakfast. Healthy fats and protein give the brain fuel for a longer time, giving your child the ability to think better for a longer time during a school day.
6 Secrets for a Better, More Nutritious Breakfast
1. Focus on high protein and good fats.
Include avocado, bacon, turkey bacon, turkey, hamburger, veggies cooked in olive oil.
2. Give your child last night's leftovers for breakfast! Who says we need to always be feeding our child sweet rather than savory meal?
3. Stop giving processed food/sweets for breakfast (cereal, pancakes, pop tarts, waffles). It’s not giving your child nutrition.
Start giving savory foods that you consider lunch or dinner items, even salad!
Add sunflower, pumpkin, chia, hemp or sesame seeds for extra protein and good fats.
4. Make chia or flax ‘pudding’. Putting a tablespoon of chia seeds in 1/8-1/4 cup of water and letting it sit for 10 minutes makes it gooey. This is a great laxative!
Add to it yogurt (non-dairy), oatmeal, or mix with nuts, berries, banana, apple, or other fruit you know your child likes.
Use organic almond or hemp milk. Or better yet, use hemp 1-2 tablespoons of hemp seeds and distilled (pure) water to make it a ‘hemp milk' base!
Tips for smoothies…
- Make sure to put the supplements (especially the bad-tasting ones) in a small amount of smoothie they drink first, not in the entire glass of it, or they may not drink it all.
- Add lettuce to smoothies – it adds fiber and is pretty tasteless!
6. Serve pancakes made with almond flour, chicken, veggie puree and bone broth powder. Cauliflower is relatively neutral-tasting, easy to puree vegetable.
You can steam veggies, then mash or puree them in a food processor. Do a big batch and freeze in ice cube trays, pulling one (or more) ‘ice cube veggie' out per smoothie.
Traditional Savory Breakfasts
- bacon or ham and eggs
- omelets with veggies
- sausages, potatoes, and cooked veggies to eat with eggs
Notice that I didn't add toast to any of my suggestions. That's because I believe we actually don't need bread at all! Gluten or gluten-free bread – we just don't need it. Your child doesn't need it.
Yes, it's convenient and something to put that peanut butter or turkey meat on. Consider instead using a lettuce leaf for your sandwich. And what about having nuts instead of nut butter?
Certainly use an organic gluten-free type of bread if you can't find an alternative for a PBJ sandwich. Though, consider getting creative. What other ways can you present food to your child that don't include sugar or grains that convert to easy sugar?
Whichever changes you implement, doing it gradually may help with the transition. For example, if you give your child ice cream for a treat, perhaps use some in the first smoothie you give. Then gradually reduce the amount of ice cream as you add the good ingredients.
Happy eating! And may every day start full of nutrition.