Feeding Bodies and Brains
According to Sarah, who practices dietetics at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, protein and fiber are the two most important foods to start your kids' days off right. Hard-boiled eggs, cottage cheese and nut butters are all filling protein options, she says. And if your children aren't fans of typical breakfast foods, think about serving leftovers. Chicken, a turkey sandwich and even pork tenderloin are better at the early hours than a breakfast without protein.
Even when your teenagers are running late, Dr. Lippitt suggests handing them a bag of nuts, veggies or cereal for the road. Don't let them convince you to give them a protein bar as a substitute. Fiber, she says, does the best job at keeping your body fueled for extended periods of time. Bananas, apples and whole grain toast are all great options, and Sarah suggests trying oatmeal before school exams and standardized tests to ensure they have sustained energy.
Although kids may disagree, eating sugar on an empty stomach will only increase their cravings for sweets. "If [your kids] have just a doughnut for breakfast or a soda, they feel great for an hour and then they're hungry again, so they go for more of the same," Sarah says. "That's why the protein and the fiber are so good first thing in the morning: They'll be maintained for the next couple of hours instead of creating peaks and valleys of energy."