OTTAWA (PRNewswire) — "Back to School" is another kind of New Year, and Canadian kids can benefit from a resolution for a healthier start to the day. New polling from the Heart and Stroke Foundation found that while the majority of Canadian parents recognize what constitutes a healthy breakfast, they face challenges getting their kids to eat one.
The biggest challenge cited by parents? Lack of time in the morning is a problem for more than half of families polled (51 per cent), 41 per cent said children just aren't hungry in the morning and one-third (29 per cent) reported that picky eaters reject healthy breakfast choices1.
Bottom line: Breakfast doesn't always get the attention it deserves, and getting kids to change their attitudes about healthy foods can seem like a daunting task. But despite the challenges, a healthy breakfast is a worthwhile commitment.
"We know that a healthy breakfast helps children concentrate better in school and makes it easier for them to learn," says Carol Dombrow, Heart and Stroke Foundation registered dietitian. "We all want to give our kids the power to be their best and the truth is, breakfast plays a big part." Fibre, iron and protein are the powerful nutritional trio that make up a healthy and well-rounded breakfast.
Dombrow understands the time crunch facing busy families. "But," she says, "a healthy breakfast can be every bit as quick and easy to prepare as a less nutritious one. It's all about being creative with your food, knowing your child and thinking a little bit like a kid."
According to the poll, the most popular breakfast food is cold cereal. "That may be the easiest default breakfast, but not all breakfast cereals are created equal. You need to take a close look at the nutrition panel on the back of the box to know what is inside the box to make a healthy choice," says Dombrow. "And with a little prep work and thought you can turn your children into breakfast champions - it might even get them jumping out of bed in the morning!"
Dombrow suggests some easy ways to put a healthy breakfast on the podium.
A few nutritious, kid-friendly options:
- Put a face on your bowl of oatmeal with raisins and almonds.
- Dip whole wheat toast sticks into a soft-boiled egg.
- Melt lower fat cheese on an English muffin and serve with apple slices.
- Make a fruit smoothie; make sure you use 100 per cent fruit juice, lower-fat yogurt and plenty of fruit.
1Heart and Stroke Foundation polling conducted online between April 19 and 27, 2012 with a sample of 2,498 Canadian parents of children between the ages of 4 and 18 who were attending school
Easy ways to get breakfast into tummies faster:
- Leftovers are a great option for a quick, healthy breakfast. So warm up the whole-wheat pasta from last night's dinner.
- Have a batch of whole-grain, low-fat muffins or bread ready in the freezer. A little weekend baking with the kids can set you up for smooth, easy weekday mornings.
- When you're cleaning up from dinner, take an extra few minutes and cut up fresh fruit or hard boil a few eggs. Adding toast next morning is a breeze.
- Make fruit smoothie popsicles for those warm-weather mornings.
- Eating on the go is the new normal for many families. Pack fruit, whole-grain/low-sodium crackers and cheese so you can all run out the door with the right fuel for your gas tanks.
Getting your kids' buy-in for the morning meal:
- Involve them in menu planning; let them create the week's breakfast plan by picking from a list of healthy options.
- Let your child operate the blender when you make a smoothie.
- Include at least three of the food groups in the breakfast meal - let your child pick the day's groups.
- Empower your child to make breakfast for the whole family - you may need to get up a few minutes earlier, but the trade-off has excellent results.
"Parents joining in on the healthy breakfast is another real kid-pleaser," says Dombrow. "You are an important role model; if you aren't taking the time and making the effort to have a healthy start to the day, why should they?"
Back to school is a great opportunity to make healthy changes. Recognizing this, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has launched Time to Start, an awareness and engagement campaign encouraging parents and kids to make a heart-healthy beginning to the new school year. Visitors to the heartandstroke.ca/healthykids website will have an opportunity to participate in the Time to Start contest, sign up for a brand new HSF newsletter for parents, and download information on healthy eating and physical activity.
Childhood obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years and now 9 per cent of children are considered obese2. The combined overweight and obesity rate is 26 per cent, making weight the most visible indication that our children are at risk for heart disease and stroke.
To learn more about the Time to Start campaign and the Foundation's commitment to heart healthy children and youth visit: heartandstroke.ca/healthykids.
The Heart and Stroke Health Check website (www.healthcheck.org) can help you make informed and balanced food choices. There are lots of ideas, tips and recipes to help give your kids a healthy start to the day. There's even a Health Check Recipe App you can download with healthy recipes and a full shopping list feature.
2Tremblay M et al. Fitness of Canadian children and youth. Results from the 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey. Statistics Canada, Health Reports, 2010.
Broadcast video to support this story is available to download at http://cnw.pathfireondemand.com/viewpackage.action?packageid=569