A Good Breakfast Can Make A Great Day

IN THE KITCHEN

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Rim country youngsters will mark the end of their first week of school tomorrow.

How are you're students doing? Still struggling to get up in the morning? Worn out when they come home? Irritable, anxious?

Payson pediatrician, Dr. Dexter DeWitt and Nurse Practitioner Sarah O'Brien of Payson Healthcare prepared the following information on Back to School Health and Nutrition.

How can we help our kids have a good year? Proper nutrition, exercise and appropriate safety practices can go a long way toward optimal learning and healthy, smart, happy children.

Nutrition

School-aged youngsters are growing steadily and need proper nutrition for optimal health of their body and mind. One of the biggest things we can do for them is to make sure they start the day with breakfast.

Studies have shown that a balanced breakfast of protein, carbohydrates, bread, fruit and a little fat helps students concentrate and learn. Eating breakfast also helps students eat less later in the day, thus reducing overeating. One out of every four people who do not eat breakfast become obese.

Lunch should provide one-third of an individual's recommended daily allowance (for calories, vitamins and minerals). Whether children eat the school lunch or bring a packed meal from home, it should also be nutritious and have variety.

Involve your child in choosing foods, but try to guide them away from high fat, sugary or heavily processed foods. This may be difficult with media and peer influences. They want to eat what is advertised on TV or what their friends eat, but if you start early, guiding them to more nutritious, lower-calorie foods, they tend to make better choices. Parents are still the strongest role models for younger children.

Obesity

Obesity in children has tripled over the past three decades and is strongly linked to major diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure among others. It is predicted that one in three adults will be diabetic within 30 years.

A balanced diet that includes whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes, and is low in processed foods, candy, high fat, sugar, salt and fried foods will go a long way toward reducing obesity and preventing disease.

Encourage a decrease in the time children spend in sedentary activities, such as watching TV or computer use. Make sure your child has at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Encourage them to be involved in after-school sports, to ride a bike or walk when feasible.

Safety

Good safety practices will prevent accidents. Use the proper car seat, wear seat belts and helmets and always watch children around water.

Know where your youngsters are going and who their friends' parents are.

Contact your health care provider when questions and concerns arise. Working together we can keep our children healthy, safe and smart.

Taking action

The new Food Guide Pyramid from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is designed to be an easy way to show the groups of foods that make up a good diet. It also shows that everyone needs a variety of foods from five different food groups and specific proportions to stay healthy.

Using the pyramid shape is a quick visual clue on what we should eat the most of -- bread, cereal, rice and pasta -- the least of, and everything in between.

It is suggested we eat six to 11 servings from the bread, cereal, rice and pasta group each day.

Going up from the pyramid base, where the bread group is located, next we need three to five servings of vegetables, plus three to four servings of fruits. These two food groups are side-by-side on the pyramid.

Also grouped side-by-side are the milk, yogurt and cheese group, along with the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts group. It is suggested we eat two to three servings from each of these daily, that is, two to three servings from the milk group and two to three servings from the meat group.

At the top of the pyramid design is the group of things that we should eat very little of -- fats, oils and sweets. These should be eaten only occasionally, and when they are eaten, only small portions should be consumed.

Unfortunately, according to the American Dietetic Association, most U.S. children do not meet the Food Guide Pyramid recommendations, especially for the fruit, grain and dairy groups.

A way to start making a change and help youngsters meet the food guidelines is to give them the complete breakfast O'Brien and Dr. DeWitt suggest.

Possible breakfasts

  • Instant oatmeal made with skim milk and topped with cinnamon and raisins provides a serving from the grain/bread group, the dairy group and the fruit group.
  • Any whole grain cereal with milk and fresh berries provides the same food group servings.
  • Eggs, bacon, whole grain toast and calcium-fortified orange juice gives a serving from the meat group with the eggs (bacon is in the fat group), a serving from the bread group, plus a serving from the fruit group. If the eggs have grated cheese on them, they will be providing more protein.
  • A cake-type doughnut, low-fat chocolate milk, a naturally sweetened fruit cup and a hard-boiled egg provides servings from the grain, milk, fruit and meat groups.
  • Whole grain toaster waffles, topped with yogurt and sliced fruit, plus sausage provides servings from the grain, milk, meat and fruit groups. Reduced fat or turkey sausage makes this breakfast healthier.

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