As a dietitian, what do MY children eat for breakfast?
As a dietitian, I know that people constantly review what I and my family eat. I am not complaining; I understand. It is no different than when I examine the attire of a personal stylist or the teeth of a dentist. We all have to represent our brand. In my case, however, it is not always easy to classify foods as “healthy” and “unhealthy”. Certain foods have certain meanings or connotations for different people and can easily be judged as “bad” by one group and yet as “good” by another. It can be very confusing!
I try not to judge people’s food choices (for the most part, I am human), but I must admit that sometimes I feel sad when I see the foods that children are used to eating. I know that in many cases it just happens; some well-intentioned Happy Meals trips turn into a in-demand lifestyle, for example. I remember very well how the WIC mom told me that all her son would eat were McDonalds chicken nuggets and French fries. That must have required so many painful trips to the Golden Arches. But we, as parents, have great control over what our children eat. I think parents forget that. Hell, even I forget sometimes and let go of the things I would rather not. We all do it.
Now, I have had the advantage of having received a lot of training in the area of child nutrition, so I knew early on that when I had children I would be introducing a variety of healthy whole foods and avoiding exposure to unhealthy things as much as possible. . That said, do we have sugar in our house? Surely. Do we even have drinks that contain sugar from time to time? You better believe it. Today they had half an Odwalla shake and a pinch of ginger ale. Okay, it’s been an unusually warm week here in Seattle, so we passed up some cold drinks. But fortunately that is not the norm and children know it.
My point is this: children will eat healthy foods if they are given the proper structure and parental model. I am not talking about children with a clear aversion to textures or other conditions that cause anxiety or distress around certain foods. I mean “most” children who simply take advantage of their parents’ lack of knowledge or willpower when it comes to diet.
So I know, you’re still wondering, what do MY kids eat for breakfast? First, let me tell you what we don’t eat. It is quite simple. We do not eat cereals (yes, no Frosted Flakes around here), “white” bread products (bagels, English muffins, Wonder Bread, pancakes / waffles with white flour, etc.), sugary yogurts, anything with artificial sweeteners, bars of cereal, Pop Tarts, and heavily processed meats (sausage patties, cheap bacon, etc.). Another thing we don’t eat for breakfast? Vegetables. Oh I know! We just don’t eat vegetables in the morning. I choose my battles and forcing salty fritattas and quiches is not one of them. Believe me, I have tried. It usually works for lunch, but not for breakfast. I try not to lose sleep over it.
Here is a list of what we EAT:
• Whole wheat waffles. I make buckwheat waffles with coconut oil almost every week. They keep very well in the fridge and we eat them for days. A little work up front and quick, easy breakfasts for days.
• Whole wheat pancakes. It is also usually made with buckwheat flour or a gluten-free cereal mix. For the record, we are not gluten free or anything, I just like the variety.
• Oatmeal with hemp and flax seeds, maybe some blueberries. Oh yes, I buy the packets, but I garnish them with these add-ons to boost protein and healthy fats. Costco often sells the giant packet of gluten-free oatmeal packets, just so you know.
• Organic Greek yogurt with fruits, hemp and / or flax seeds, plus nuts and / or granola. Again, add a little protein and healthy fat, along with a pinch of fiber.
• Other “yogurts”. Sometimes I make a large batch of coconut milk yogurt or rice milk yogurt grown in my yogurt maker. This is mainly for me and the little one. Will eat anything. That being said, I have nothing against store-bought alternative yogurts. I just don’t like paying for it.
• Chia “yogurt”. This one is new to us, but me and the little one love it. Soak the coconut milk overnight with chia seeds, then add toasted peaches and walnuts the next morning. So good. The older one did poop, but whatever. Money Saving Tip: Get your canned coconut milk at Trader Joe’s for ninety-nine cents. Can you make breakfast cheaper?
• Whole wheat toast (usually Dave’s Killer Bread) with almond butter and jelly.
• Eggs. We eat a LOT of eggs. We may be able to save a lot of money by raising chickens. Unfortunately, I refuse to have animals. Isn’t it enough to take care of the children?
• Bacon! My husband usually finds good quality bacon at our local butcher and the kids love it. It’s more of a rarity, but it’s certainly something we love to have on occasion.
• Fruit. Who doesn’t love fresh fruit in the morning?
Then there is a sample of what we eat. We often create different combinations of the items listed above. It has become what my husband now calls a “breakfast extravaganza”. You’re pretty sure very few are putting as much time and effort into breakfast as we are (although I bet some of you do, right?), But clearly kids love it and need it. Breakfast is by far the most important meal of the day. It is satisfying to know that we are starting the day off right. Did I mention that my kids are in the 75th percentile for height? Maybe it’s breakfast … just a theory.