Breakfast doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, there’s growing evidence that a bowl of good old-fashioned oatmeal may be one of the key components to a healthy breakfast.
Several recent studies showed that when children ate instant oatmeal for breakfast, as opposed to cold cereal, or no breakfast at all, they had better memory and attention -- skills that come in handy when studying subjects like math and geography. Scientists think this effect can be linked to the whole grain, high fiber, and protein in oatmeal that, because it digests slowly, supplies the brain with a steady stream of energy.
Whether your child’s cereal is hot or cold, you’ll always want to check the fiber, fat, and sugar content per serving. For example, many kinds of instant oatmeal tend to be heavily processed, leaving it lower in fiber than unprocessed, whole oats.
If your child prefers breakfast bars, be sure to read labels the same way you would cereal labels, noting fat, fiber, and sugar content. Many cereal, granola, and breakfast bars tend to skimp on fiber and instead bulk up on sugar.
It’s best if sugar or corn syrup is not among the first three ingredients on breakfast foods.
And ideally, your goal should be to get a total of at least 6 grams of fiber at breakfast; your child’s cereal should provide at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Hint: If your child’s favorite cereal is low on fiber, try sneaking a couple tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran into it or try mixing in another cereal that’s high in fiber with your child’s favorites.
From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.
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