I sat and watched from my seat on the couch. One child had already finished breakfast and asked for a snack before lunch time. The child was given a cookie from a crinkly package and sat at the table to enjoy his treat. The other child had just awoke from slumber and asked for a cookie as well. She was told that she would need to eat some breakfast before she could enjoy a cookie. After a little bit of arguing, the toddler was sat at the table with a bowl full of cereal shaped like cinnamon buns. The sugar filled pieces of “breakfast” were coated with even more sugar and unnatural flavors. I watched in astonishment as the child was asked multiple times to finish her breakfast and told that she could not eat a cookie until the breakfast was finished. My jaw dropped. She needed to finish her cookies in order to have a cookie? Huh.
While I understand the importance of finishing a hearty breakfast before being allowed an uncommon treat, I don’t understand why this child was given cookies (posing as multi-grain cereal) for breakfast. The more I think about it, the more I realize that this scenario must play out in homes all over America. We are pumping our children full of sugar and processed junk for the first meal of the day. Why are we starting them out this way? We are setting them up for a sugar crash before lunch, the inability to focus on school work, and furthering an addiction to sugar which could lead to poor dental health, obesity, and bad skin. Who wants to live with those ailments through high school?
In order to help combat this problem, many schools are offering breakfast at school. My daughter’s school has implemented this program. The school prides itself on serving meals that are healthier than other schools in the country. Thanks to Jamie Oliver and his television series, “Food Revolution”, our school made an effort to help our children consume healthier lunches. They took out the food dyes in the drinks and began to use more whole foods versus processed and frozen foods. I was pleased with this and figured that breakfast would be similar. I was shocked when I delivered a forgotten sack lunch to school and witnessed my child eating almond cookies (from a package) and chocolate milk for breakfast. I was informed that some days they are given Quaker granola bars. I was told that my child would be receiving fresh fruit and oatmeal without added sugar. I immediately grabbed a menu on the way out and studied it. Fresh fruit and oatmeal was listed for one day of the month. The cookies my daughter was eating was listed as “breakfast cookies”. Huh.
There is only one solution to this problem of epidemic proportions. Do it yourself. At home I try to cook all of our meals from scratch and use wholesome ingredients. I add vegetables to every plate and keep the fat content down. I prepare healthy meals in advance and keep my refrigerator and freezer full of quick and easy meals. Instead of pulling out a Hot Pocket, my kids pull out homemade waffles that have been made with butternut squash or beet puree. Instead of a bottle of juice filled with high fructose corn syrup, my children are served a cup of ice water flavored with strawberry slices. It sounds like a lot of work, but with proper planning, everyone can stay away from boxes of sugar. There are blogs and articles all over the web that provide detailed instructions on how to start pushing your family away from addictive sugars and towards natural sweet flavors. Take a step – even a small one – away from sugary breakfast cereals.