Skipping breakfast is a harmful eating habit that hits adolescent girls harder than the general population. According to a 2005 study of breakfast habits in the "Journal of the American Dietetic Association," girls' perceptions that eating less in the morning will help them lose weight are unfounded. Avoiding breakfast has instead been linked with weight gain. Moms know that the adolescent years are critical to growth and future good health. When your daughter refuses breakfast, make it easier to eat breakfast than resist your selection of healthy foods.
Some aromas are irresistible, so serve the foods that your child or teen can't help but notice first thing in the morning. Fresh pancakes have fiber, vitamins and minerals for physical and mental energy. Add raspberries or blueberries for vitamin C, or chocolate chips as a morning treat. Even toaster waffles smell great when they're warm and will be hard to pass up. Offer an 8 oz. glass of low-fat milk to provide calcium and vitamin D with every meal, and you'll reinforce another eating habit that will pay off with good bone health for life.
Taking the time to eat even a partial breakfast will make your daughter more likely to achieve her daily needs for essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. A breakfast that kids can eat while getting dressed, packing books or walking to the bus fits good nutrition into the busiest day. Finger foods rule when time is short, so keep a stock of low-sugar cereal or granola bars, bananas and raisins on the kitchen counter. Hand your daughter a stick of string cheese or a cup of yogurt or milk and a cinnamon raisin bagel on her way out the door.
Many nutritious breakfast foods have fewer than 100 calories per serving, and many of those have zero to low fat content. Even teenagers can't dispute the small caloric impact made by highly nutritious foods such as wheat bran cereal, an egg, a cup of fat-free milk, a slice of whole-wheat bread, a tablespoon of peanut butter, ½ cup of orange juice, a kiwi or a packet of raisins, each a solid breakfast choice with less than 100 calories.
Satisfying different morning tastes with healthy food is better than creating the need to snack all morning or overeat at lunchtime. Leftovers may be more appealing than cereal or eggs to your daughter. Try cold veggie pizza, noodle casseroles or stir-fried vegetables and rice as sources of protein, vitamins, fiber, iron and other minerals. Include calcium-rich milk or yogurt in her diet by offering rice pudding or a fruit smoothie.
- "Journal of the American Dietetic Association"; Breakfast Habits ... and Academic Performance in Children and Adolescents; Gail C. Rampersaud, MS, RD, et al.; May 2005
- National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development: Calcium Is Critical for Lifelong Bone Health
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database