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Breakfast: Still the Most Important Meal of the Day for Children

Pediatrician and founder of Kidcrew, Dina Kulik, M.D., shares tips for getting your little ones to start the day out right.

Dina Kulik, M.D

Pediatrician and Founder, Kidcrew

Why is it so important for young children, and even teens, to have a proper breakfast?

Kids who eat breakfast are more likely to get enough fiber, calcium and other important nutrients in their diet. They have less risk of obesity, lower cholesterol levels and fewer absences from school. Breakfast kick-starts the metabolism, helping burn more calories through the day.  Eating breakfast is linked to overall good health, including better memory and concentration, lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and decreased risk of diabetes, heart disease and becoming overweight.

What are the benefits of juice for young kids at breakfast?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children 1 to 6 years of age limit juice consumption to four to six ounces a day. Juice drinking is generally recommended against, and should only be given as part of a meal or snack. 

What are important food groups, including superfoods, for elementary-aged kids? 

Dairy and alternatives, which are essential for strong and healthy bones. Fruit provides vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and many phytonutrients that help the body stay healthy. Grains, focusing on wholegrain and/or high fiber varieties of bread, cereals, rice, pasta and noodles provide fiber. Meats, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes/beans have protein. Vegetables provide dietary fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals to help the body stay healthy.

How can a busy parent prepare a breakfast burrito?

Consider a whole grain wrap, a lean meat, chicken of vegetarian protein source such as tofu beans and a variety of vegetables. Add cheese for added calcium. This will provide protein, healthy fat, fiber and tons of minerals and vitamins to keep your child active and full until lunch.

What advice do you have for parents of young children who are picky eaters?

Eating together as a family encourages trying new foods, and less reliance on snacking and high fat and carb offerings that kids often gravitate toward. Focus on meals and not snacks, avoid distraction feeding or pressuring your child to eat. Make mealtimes positive, and limit meals to 45 minutes or less. 

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