Fueling Our Families with a Healthy Breakfast
Dr. Ian Smith, PCFSN Council member, Bestselling Author, and National Healthy Living Expert
As a physician and sports enthusiast it’s important to make sure I’m fueling my body with healthy, nutritious foods to stay fit and focused. It’s not only critical for me personally, but also as a dad. I want to make sure my kids grow up and develop their own healthy eating habits so they can lead long, active and productive lives. This all starts with breakfast. Each morning, my wife and I make sure to provide our kids with a healthy and tasty meal to start their day and give them the boost they need for an active day.
Sometimes it can be challenging to offer breakfast foods that my young boys enjoy that are also nutritious. But if you teach your children the importance of starting the day off right with a healthy meal and then lead by example, it’s more likely to become a family habit. In our house every breakfast starts with a cup of fresh fruit. Yogurt, whole grains such as oatmeal and breads are frequently on the menu as is low-fat milk and fresh juice. My children are like many other boys and girls and their appetites and preferences change on a daily basis, so we always try to mix up the available options, making certain they are getting the necessary amounts of nutrients while at the same time being careful of them not consuming too many calories.
Council members Donna Richardson Joyner and Dr. Ian Smith lead exercises with students at Capitol Hill Montessori School in Washington, DC. Photo Courtesy of USDA/Lance Cheung
This Fall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a healthier School Breakfast Program based on standards included in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and the healthy options for school breakfast are expanding. As my children have gotten older, they have started making their own food choices and I’m excited that more will be available to them at school. Research has shown that kids who eat school breakfast are less likely to be overweight and tend to be healthier because they eat more fruits, drink more milk and enjoy a larger variety of foods. According to studies, school breakfast has also been linked to better attendance, attentiveness in the classroom, and academic performance.
Research has consistently shown numerous benefits to children who eat nutritious meals throughout the school day. So help not only your children, but other children around you, begin each day with a healthy breakfast and the best chance at success. Our children truly are our future, and how we nourish, support, and teach them impacts what they will be able to accomplish. Visit www.fitness.gov for more information on the new School Breakfast Program, and help your kids start their day the right way!
For more healthy eating tips follow @fitnessgov and me @doctoriansmith