Recently EatingWell asked our readers what they focused on when it comes to feeding kids breakfast. I quite was surprised by the most common answer. Many parents said they were focused on getting their kids to eat protein at breakfast. (Sound familiar? Find recipes for protein-packed breakfasts here.)
Protein is an important part of a healthy breakfast–protein provides staying power to keep hunger at bay until lunch. A little bit of protein at breakfast in the form of milk, yogurt, an egg or peanut butter, for example, is a good idea, but you don’t need to overly focus on it. We tend to make up for any protein we didn’t get at breakfast at lunch and dinner, and overall Americans’ daily protein intake is just fine.
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But what you really want to focus on eating at breakfast are foods that most Americans don’t get enough of in our diets. And for most of us–adults and kids–that’s these two food groups:
1. Vegetables (and fruits). Including produce in your breakfast is a great way to knock off a serving or two of your daily recommended “dose,” which for most Americans is 4 to 5 cups. Plus, vegetables and fruits are packed with essential vitamins and minerals (particularly vibrant-colored produce), as well as fiber, which will help to keep you feeling satisfied until lunch. It’s easier than you think to include vegetables in your breakfast: add your favorite veggies to an omelet or a strata; cook rhubarb into your oatmeal; put slices of tomato or cucumber on top of your toast or bagel with cream cheese; add sautéed spinach to an egg sandwich or eggs Benedict.
2. Whole grains. Half of your grains are supposed to be whole, says the USDA–a guideline most Americans have a tough time meeting. Plus, eating a breakfast that includes whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole-grain cereals or whole-wheat bagels and toast (which are slower-burning or low-glycemic-index carbs)–instead of “white” carbs, such as refined cereals, white bagels and bread, pancakes and muffins made from all-purpose flour–has been shown to help kids concentrate and pay attention. I don’t see why the same wouldn’t apply to adults.