A Collaborative Post: Back-to-school “Importance of Breakfast and Snacks”

Today we’ll be having a collaborative post with Christele Daccache, a nutritionist, yoga instructor and blogger at Health ‘n’ Horizons; on the importance of breakfast and snacks for school aged children and young adults. Christele offers at-home nutrition counseling for families in Jeddah, KSA where she helps them adopt a healthier lifestyle through a complete nutrition management program that suits their specific needs with kitchen makeovers, guided grocery shopping tours, and more. If you haven’t checked Christele’s awesome blog already, I invite you to. I am sure you will enjoy her writings and advice as much as I do!


Part 1: The Importance of Breakfast

Why is Breakfast Important?

Breakfast is one of the most important meals especially for school aged individuals (children and teens). As the term “BreakFast” shows that during breakfast we “BREAK” the “FAST”. Meaning, disturbing the sleeping night fast in the morning with a balanced diet, and that is essential for a healthy body.
Studies have shown that breakfast has an important effect on behavior, learning and overall school performance. On the other hand, it may help control weight and reduce the risk of weight related diseases, because when the child eats breakfast he/she will not feel hungry earlier during the day and more kely to eat less fat foods during breaks.

On the other hand, children who do not eat breakfast are often bad-tempered, impatient with bad attitudes toward school with less energy during the day. That in turn affects the child’s concentration and school performance ability.

As a conclusion, it’s very important to make breakfast a repetitive continuous behavior for ourselves and our children.

Now you might say: But we have a hectic lifestyle and no time to make breakfast for ourselves even. We say, nowadays we all have a hectic lifestyle; thus why not prepare the basic ingredients beforehand to make the “on the go” process fast, healthy and easy.

A balanced breakfast contains a source of carbohydrate, protein and fats along with vegetables and fruits.

To make it easier for you, we will share with some simple breakfast recipe ideas.

Breakfast Recipe Ideas

– Labneh Sandwich with a Banana
– Light Cheese Sandwich with an Apple
– Zaatar and Labneh Sandwich with Vegetables
– Broccoli Mini Omelets or any type of vegetable omelet (made in the shape of a muffin)
– Milk, Cereals and mixed nuts (that’s for the weekends)
Stress-free overnight oats recipe

Part 2: The Importance of Snacks

Snacks can be nutritional disasters if children are having sugary drinks, chips and all-they-can-eat candy, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Good planning and some tricks can help you make sure your kid is snacking the right way.

Why do kids need snacks?

– Children have small stomachs; they need snacks to keep them going to the next meal – a midmorning snack to keep them focused at school and going till lunch and an afternoon snack to make them go to dinner. However, if the next meal is just within two hours, you wouldn’t want to offer a snack so as not to ruin your child’s appetite.
– Snacks make it easier for children to get all the nutrients they need.

How can you help your kid have the right snack?

Snacking is not equivalent to grazing. You don’t want your children to be eating every hour and they should not be allowed to have snacks in front of the TV or computer screen. They will be more likely to override their satiety signals and gain weight. Plus, you don’t want your children to consume extra calories they are not burning off with physical activity.
– Sit down with your child every week or every month and decide on what snacks to have. They will appreciate being treated as adults and will be more likely to go for nutritious and healthy snacks that they have come up with.
– If your child likes chocolate, include it in the plan occasionally just don’t make the mistake of calling it a treat. You don’t want your child to think there is something special about it.
– Midmorning snacks should be simple and appealing enough to compete with cafeteria junk or whatever other kids are having.
– Afternoon snacks can be a bit experimental. Since they are mostly offered at home, a new fruit or vegetable can be introduced.
– Cutting up fruits and vegetables into fun shapes works well with smaller kids.

What are some good snack ideas?

A snack should be nutrient dense; easy to eat, and low in salt, sugar and fat. You want to steer clear of prepackaged snacks that contain trans-fats, hydrogenated oils, additives and preservatives.

– Fruits are obvious snack foods. They can be served alone or paired with a source of protein: an apple or a banana with a tablespoon of all-natural peanut butter, grapes or watermelon with feta or two slices of halloumi cheese.
– Make your own fruit yogurt without the additives by mixing half a cup of yogurt with slices of peaches, plums or strawberries…
– A handful of dried fruits (apricots, prunes…), nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios) and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower).
– Veggie sticks including carrots, cucumbers, peppers … to dip in labneh, yogurt or hummus.
– Homemade baked vegetable “chips”. Forget store brought potato chips. Experiment with zucchini, sweet potato and squash. Cut them into thin circles, toss in a teaspoon of canola oil, add your favorite herbs or spices and bake in hot oven until crispy.
– A small bowl of plain popcorn.
– Half a small bagel or pita bread topped with a slice of turkey, low-fat cream cheese, or low-sugar jam.
– The occasional snacks (once a week): a small chocolate biscuit bar, a snack-sized chocolate bar, or two biscuits or cookies, or a small muffin (homemade is better like this Banana Oat Cake with chocolate or check the ingredient list for the most natural ingredients and serving size).

We hope you enjoyed it! If you have any questions regarding the topic don’t hesitate to connect with us :)

Photo Source:

http://fisd-reads.blogspot.com/2012/09/welcome-back-to-school.html
http://blogs.faithlafayette.org/community/back-to-school-lunch-boxes/

Additional References

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/healthy-snacks-for-kids
http://www.nfsmi.org/documentlibraryfiles/PDF/20100916044310.pdf
http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/07/31/85-snacks-for-kids-and-adults/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dina-r-rose/french-parenting-advice-_b_1499249.html
http://www.supernanny.co.uk/Advice/-/Food-and-Nutrition/-/4-to-13-years/Healthy-snacks-for-kids.aspx
http://www.lowcarb.ca/articles/article122.html
http://recipes.slides.kaboose.com/307-10-back-to-school-breakfasts/7
http://www.lowcarb.ca/articles/article122.html
http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442460400#.UHReBxV3bG8
http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=resources/lifestyle_community&id=8333184
http://www.colehealth.com/blog/back-to-school-basics-tips-for-a-successful-school-year/
http://ateacheratheart.blogspot.com/2011/08/back-to-school-breakfast-ideas.html
http://chefmom.sheknows.com/articles/822467/the-best-kid-friendly-breakfast-recipes/page:2

Mango, Lunch and Picky Children…

My colleague “Mango” invited me for lunch…

She has 3 little kids… 1.5 years… 3 years and 5 years of age…

The lunch was great… the food was delicious …
But, “Mango” was frustrated… continously shouting at her kids to eat their food…

You have picky children??? here it goes….

It’s normal to have your children picky with food…

Children between 1 and 3 years of age nudge at their food and this is normal due to growth and development reasons.

They may eat only fruits on Monday and only vegetables on Tuesday. Such eating habits are normal. Thus, it’s important to expect the child to eat well one day and eat nothing the next day.

Children from 1 to 3 years need approximately around 1000 – 1300 Kcal per day. But they might not eat this amount every day.

Accordingly, it is always recommended that children have a balanced diet over the week, not over a single day.

Here are some tips to encourage eating:

1) Give the food some playful names, names that the child is familiar with, for example:

Apples: Moons
Avocado: Boats
Banana: Wheels
Broccoli: Trees

2) Young children love dipping foods. Let them dip slices of apples, colored bell pepper pieces, carrots, broccoli in sauces
for examples:

Cream cheese
Fruit juice
Guacamole
Peanut butter
Pureed fruits or vegetables
Yogurt

3) Show them how to use a knife, a spoon etc. to spread cheese, labneh, peanut butter, fruit concentrates, vegetable concentrate onto toast, or bread; children love playing and spreading their food. The more they play with the unappealing food the more they’ll get to like it.

4) Let them help you prepare the food. Let them cut their sandwiches, vegetables, pizzas, fruits etc. into various shapes using children cookie cutters.

5) Plant a garden with your child: let the children help take care of the vegetables, fruits etc… wash and prepare them.

Important Remarks:

– Breakfast, lunch, and dinner have NO meaning to a child. If your Child wants to eat pizza in the morning or fruit and cereal in the evening let him/her go with it.
– Keep food servings small. A young child’s stomach is approximately the size of his fist.
– A hungry child is NOT a happy kid. Thus, be strict when possible, a hungry child will cry yet, when there’s nothing available he/she will end up eating (so don’t worry).
– A child taste preference depends on exposure. Children will prefer sweet tastes, salty taste, bitter taste etc. depending on what they were mostly exposed to during their first years of life. Thus try as much as possible to expose them to the healthy tastes and keep them away from the sweeties (Don’t add sugars/salts etc. to the food).
– Eat all together, children eat better when they see their parents eating.

Children… Eczema… and Diet

Yesterday night I received an email from “Eggplant”…

“Eggplant”

Dear Blue Strawberry…
Hope this email finds you well…
I have two children and they both have eczema…
Do you have any food/nutrition recommendations related to eczema???
I’m a bit worried…

“Blue Strawberry”

Well… first I need to know if your children have any food allergies… however for now it’s good to know that…

Most children with eczema do not have any reactions to food. Though, in some children, food allergies
may prompt some skin reactions.

The diet for eczema varies depending on the sensitivity of the child towards certain foods.
For example, milk may prompt eczema in some children, while it is safe for other children.
Thus, the diets vary from one child to another.

For me to plan a food related eczema diet, the first important step, is to identify the type
of foods that might affect the eczema.

I’ll give you a list of items that MIGHT trigger some reactions:

Milk and dairy product: Milk, cheeses, yogurt, chocolate that contains cow’s milk…
Wheat based products and cereals: Bread, crackers, donuts, pancakes, barley, oats and rye…
Nuts: Peanuts, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts and pistachios…
Seafood: Shellfish, salmon, tuna, lobster, mussels, crabs…
Acidic fruits: Orange, lemon, strawberries, plumps, blueberries, prunes and tomatoes…
Eggs and soy products
Food colorings and food additives: Sodium benzoate, glutamate, tartrazine…

I can’t surely detect what is relevant to your children; nevertheless I insist that you get back
to your children doctor… and upon the doctor’s prescriptions, tests etc… we can move forward to the next step…

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