We met Pauline on a quiet Wednesday morning in a café somewhere in western Singapore. We decided that a delicious spread of scramble eggs, hams and bread, would serve as a good backdrop to open discussions on nutrition.
Benefits of Breakfast
Is your child eating the most important meal of the day?
Pauline is the Vice President of the Singapore Nutrition and Dietetic Association (SNDA) and she also manages her own company called The Nutrition Place. Pauline shared several proven benefits that breakfast brings about for kids:
- Better behaviour
- Higher test scores due to greater levels of energy.
- Singaporean kids get the nutrients they otherwise lack in other meals (fibre,calcium)
Making a nutritional breakfast
However, it turns out that breakfast as a meal could be treated flippantly especially here in Singapore. A survey done by Abbott Nutrition showed that 68% of children were rushing through breakfast, while 27% of parents found it hard to prepare a nutritionally balanced breakfast.
Pauline recommended parents to incorporate foods from different groups on the food pyramid (fruits, bread, meat, etc) for a nutritionally balanced meal. She added that breakfast should optimally provide one-fifth of a day’s energy.
Problems with kids and breakfast
Parents have voiced out many concerns that their children refuse to eat breakfast so here are some solutions that Pauline suggested to the common problems parents face when convincing their children to eat in the morning.
1. Children are bored with the choices
Solution: We are fortunate to live in Singapore, truly a land of food. Why not take it up a notch and rotate between Asian and Western fare? Cereal one day and chee cheong fun, the next, should surely pique your child’s interest. Another method is to make the food more colourful. Children are attracted to colours and a well decorated plate could increase their appetite.
2. Food is hard to swallow in the morning
Solution: Children could be too tired to make the effort to chew and swallow so early in the morning. The solution simply lies in not sticking to solid foods. A fruit smoothie or a milkshake could provide the necessary nutrients with a couple of easy swigs.
3. No time to eat
Solution: A problem especially for kids whose schools are far away. At times, kids need to rush out of their houses early to catch that school bus. Instead of keeping your kid at home an extra five minutes, pack a sandwich in his bag and make him eat in the school canteen when he reaches.
4. Fussy kids
Solution: Make breakfast a routine, a habit if you will. Liken the act of eating breakfast to the importance of taking off your shoes before entering the house, and it will become second nature to your kid. For especially fussy kids, try substituting the food he does not like. Exchange the tomatoes for some strawberries if he makes a fuss.
5. Kids who simply refuse breakfast
Solution: Be a role model. Show your kid that even you feel the importance of having breakfast in the morning. Another option is to involve your child in the process of making breakfast. By having your child make pancakes with you, your child will be investing time and effort and would undoubtedly eat your combined final creations in happiness and fulfillment.