Start kids' day with energy


November 03, 1992|By Colleen Pierre, R.D. | Colleen Pierre, R.D.,Contributing Writer

A group of researchers recently reported that kids are better off eating any breakfast than no breakfast.

I hope you didn't take that as license to turn the tads loose among the cookies and colas in the morning.

Food plays two important roles in body function. Food supplies energy (calories) and body-building blocks (nutrients like proteins, vitamins and minerals).

Most foods (except diet cola, coffee and tea) provide energy that feeds the brain, helping kids stay awake and think better. It also feeds the muscles, helping coordination, so kids put more pegs in holes, color inside the lines and hit the right keys on the computer. Any breakfast that supplies energy will help kids do better in school, at least on the days they show up.

But when it comes to building blocks, foods are not created equal.

Some foods, like soft drinks, contain some energy, but no building blocks.

Other foods, like cupcakes, cookies and candy bars, contain lots of energy, a few building blocks and junk like big doses of fat and salt that put a kid at risk for heart disease and high blood pressure.

Still others, like cereal, bran, fruit and low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese offer energy along with lots of building blocks but not much junk.

In order to grow, a kid needs building blocks to make brain cells and blood cells and strong bones and muscles. To stay healthy and show up for school, a kid needs blocks to build a strong immune system.

Although there may be a few days when any breakfast will just have to do, building-block breakfasts are a better bet over the long haul, for you and your kids.

Busy parents and kids can benefit from these quickies:

* Pita pockets. Toast small whole wheat pita pockets till crisp. Slit side. Stuff with peanut butter and raisins, low-fat cottage cheese and crushed pineapple, reduced fat Cheddar cheese and apple slices, or sliced banana and low-fat ricotta cheese. (Hint: To reduce fat, buy natural peanut butter with oil on top. Pour off the oil. Thin with water or skim milk.)

* Bagel breakfasts. Have a cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter and low-fat chocolate milk, a plain bagel with reduced fat cream cheese and lox, or a pumpernickel bagel with part skim mozzarella and a fresh pear on the side. (Hint: Toast bagel for crispy; microwave for warm and soft.)

* Cereal start-ups. Cereal with skim milk and juice is an old standby that's back in fashion. Kids eat best when they get to choose, but for parents, the cereal aisle strikes more fear than the Bermuda Triangle.

To reduce hassles, registered dietitian Marilyn Gutherie, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, gives her kids a list of four or five acceptable cereals. They get to choose from her list.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore.

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