Breakfast is commonly assumed to be the most important meal of the day. Children, in particular, benefit from eating breakfast before school. In a 2005 article published in "Journal of the American Dietetic Association," researchers noted that children who eat breakfast tend to have better grades and miss less school. In addition, although breakfast eaters consume more calories over the course of a day, they are less likely to be overweight. This suggests that overweight children could lose weight by eating a healthful breakfast.
Many families struggle to find the time to have a nutritious sit-down breakfast on school days. An effective on-the-go breakfast for overweight and average-weighted children is a healthy breakfast shake.
Components of a Healthy Breakfast Shake for Children
In order to create a healthy breakfast shake that is low in calories and high in nutrition, several components should be included: protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates. Protein will help stabilize the blood sugar, fiber will increase satiety and keep the child feeling full longer, and complex carbohydrates will provide a slow release of energy. Things that should be avoided include sugar, full-fat dairy products, and processed or refined ingredients. Raw eggs should be avoided as well.
Providing overweight children with a fruit-based shake for breakfast is a good way to help them get the daily recommended servings of fruit. Fresh fruit is a better choice than canned or frozen fruit, but even canned and frozen fruits have fiber and complex carbohydrates.
Fruit juices should be avoided for overweight children, as they have more calories per ounce and are considered a simple carbohydrate. Similarly, canned fruit should be packed in juice instead of syrup and should be rinsed prior to use.
Non-Fruit Based Shakes
Not all children enjoy fruit. For these kids, a non-fruit based breakfast shake can be a good option. Peanut or other nut butters can be added to yogurt or low-fat milk to make a healthy breakfast shake. If the child doesn't like yogurt, a whey-based protein powder and water can be added to the shake. Unsweetened cocoa powder can be added to give a chocolate flavor.
In these shakes, it's important to carefully measure the serving size of the nut butters, as they are high in calories and fat. Also, a tablespoon of sugar will make the shake palatable.
Non-Dairy Shakes for Kids
Some children have allergies to dairy or come from families who don't consume animal products. Soy milk and soy-based protein powders can be used in place of cow's milk, yogurt or whey-based protein powder.
In sum, a healthy breakfast shake can be a quick and easy breakfast for children. Overweight children, in particular, can benefit from eating breakfast consistently.