Why breakfast time could be detrimental to our children’s future, how we can avoid an inevitable obesity epidemic and 5 sugar-FREE breakfast ideas to help parents. 

As an experienced professional, health and fitness related news doesn't tend to shock me. 

But this week, I was shocked, I am shocked.  

According to research from Public Health England (PHE) released earlier this week children in England consume half their recommended maximum daily intake of sugar at breakfast.

I knew sugary breakfasts were an issue but hadn’t realised quite the scale. Read on.

Sugary cereals, fruit juices and spreads are the foods that tend to make up the equivalent of three cubes of sugar - roughly 11g – that our kids are consuming before they leave for school. If you’re sat reading this thinking “my kids eat a healthy breakfast” then keep reading, because according to the stats there’s a strong chance they don’t: “eight out of 10 parents believed their children’s breakfast's were nutritious and healthy.

Breakfast alone could be detrimental to the future health and wellbeing of our children, if it carries on obesity will continue to be an ever growing issue.

In an effort to help the ongoing issue with sugar the government is expected to bring in a sugar tax from April 2018, which will increase the price of sugary drinks. Although this is only on drinks it is a start and a sign that change is happening.

In the meantime educating yourself where nutrition is concerned is the best thing you can do which is the reason for this article. See below for what your kids should and shouldn’t be eating at breakfast.

Sugary cereals

Sugary cereals are the worst things you can give your child at breakfast and quite often they’re much worse than you think. Aside from looking at the back of the box at the sugar content there are a few simple rules you can use to make it easier.

Tip: Dump the Favourite Characters 

The sugar puff monster, Tony the tiger, Coco the monkey, the list goes on but you get my drift - these are just a selection of our children’s favourite characters but aside from being fun and attractive they offer very little where nutrition is concerned. The plan to use these characters to make cereal boxes look more appealing in your local supermarket is nothing more than a genius marketing plan; bright colours and characters along with a freebee toy chucked in for good measure are a child’s dream.

Tip: If it contains fruit – Dump it

I’m not suggesting that fruit is bad but it does contain a lot of sugar which we’re trying to avoid. Dried fruits also (often found in cereals containing fruit) tend to have higher sugar content than most.

Fruit Juices

Fruit juices are where we see most confusion. Typically, people associate anything fruit based as nutritious and where fruit juices are concerned they’d be correct. That said, half a pint of orange juice contains roughly 20g of sugar – a child’s entire day’s sugar allowance consumed in one tasty but unnecessary drink. Always advise water as it’s the only drink your child actually needs.

Parents are often trying to get their little ones to consume more fruit and veg which is never advised against. Use pieces of fruit and not substitute juices. Here is a list of fruits and their sugar content. Always pick the lower calorie fruits and if you’re still concerned feel free to cut them in half.  

Cranberries (1 cup) – 4g

Raspberries (1 cup) – 5g

Plum (1 small) – 6g

Kiwi (1 medium) – 6g

Blackberries (1 cup) 7g

Strawberries (1 cup) – 7g

Grapefruit (1 medium) – 9g

Tangerine (1 medium) – 9g

Watermelon (1 cup) – 9g

Papayas (1 cup) – 11g

Cantaloupe (1 cup) – 12g

Orange            (1 medium) – 13g

Peach (1 medium) – 13g

Banana (1 medium) – 14g

Honeydew (1 cup) – 14g

Blueberries (1 cup) – 15g

Apricot (1 cup) – 15g

Kickstart your child’s day with these 5 healthy breakfast ideas

Avo on Toast

This is number 1 on my list of breakfasts for a reason – it rocks! A beautiful combination of fats, carbohydrates and protein provides you and your children enough energy to kick-start your day in a way you’ve not experienced before. And what’s better – its sugar free! Spread avocado on toast and then top it off with something of your choice, something like eggs or tomatoes. 

Scrambled Eggs and Smoked Salmon

Simple but effective. Mix your usual 2 eggs per person, splash a bit of milk, but drop the butter (we don’t require the extra fat today). Place it on a slice of wholemeal bread, add a slither of smoked salmon and you’re onto a good day.

Oats and Blueberries

Oats are arguably the best “sugar free” cereal the market has to offer and when combined with a low sugar fruit like blueberries (just a handful) they offer a beautiful breakfast to start your day.

Tip: use unsweetened almond milk, it adds to the taste and provides an even more nutritious breakfast.

Boiled Eggs and Soldiers

Every kids dream start to the day. It’s fun, high in protein and a dead easy way to make your child eat wholemeal bread without them even noticing. Sneaky!

Berries, Nuts and Natural Yoghurt

Grab yourself a sugar free tub of natural yoghurt, sprinkle a small handful of mixed (or just one of your favourite berries) nuts and berries on top and you’re away. Quick, tasty, healthy.

Disclaimer: not suitable for people with nut allergies 

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