Parents Need to Rule at the Breakfast Table

The crazy morning rush, less family time around the breakfast table and electronics  are affecting how we eat (or don’t eat) breakfast, with over two-thirds of South Africans believing that children getting ready for school gets in the way of eating breakfast — and almost one-quarter of children who do eat breakfast distracted by TV, iPads or mobile phones.

Kellogg, the brand behind the Kellogg’s Breakfast for Better Days Initiative, which feeds 25,000 South African learners every school day, revealed this and other breakfast facts in the results of a recent comprehensive national  survey of the breakfast habits and beliefs of over 1200 adults, across all nine provinces.

“Distractions from technology during breakfast are problematic as they result in mindless eating, or worse, no eating at all,” said Kelly Francis, a Kwazulu Natal dietician.  In 2011 a study published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health reported that 87% of participants (aged 11-12 years) exceeded electronic media use recommendations of up to 2 hrs a day. “Children require as much guidance with their eating behaviour as they do with any other behaviour. I strongly encourage an ‘unplugged’ family breakfast to promote the development of healthy eating habits before setting out for the day,” said Francis.

Adds Jenny Meyer, a dietician from Gauteng: “Parents should encourage their children to sit down at the table for breakfast and make it a fun, positive and relaxed experience. It should be seen as an important part of their daily routine, just like getting dressed for school and brushing their teeth. It is also important for parents to set a good example by having breakfast themselves.”

“Cereal may be one of the quickest and versatile meals for the morning time rush,” says dietician Megan Pentz-Kluyts.  “Choose cereals that are fortified with vitamins and minerals, not loaded with sugar and are a source of dietary fibre. Going the milk and cereal route is a perfect way to combine protein and carbohydrates.”

Breakfast is widely known as the most important meal of the day, and is also often the least expensive. Only one in four surveyed claim to spend more than R30 per head each day for breakfast. “When budgeting for family meals, parents should be mindful that breakfast is the meal that gives us more bang for our buck as a source of essential nutrients and increases the variety of foods eaten in the diet,” said Pentz-Kluyts.

Here are a few tips from dieticians to make getting breakfast on the table and the family around the table easier:

  • Do some of your morning chores the night before such as selecting clothes to wear, signing permission slips and putting homework in backpacks.
  • Set the table with breakfast dishes and non-perishable food items such as dry cereal, low GI bread and bagels before going to bed.
  • Children are always keen to learn. Make sure you involve them. Over the weekend, when you have more time, let them help you make breakfast, e.g. teach them step- by-step how to make a breakfast of their choice. You will be surprised at how much they enjoy this. By doing this you also teach them healthy eating habits.
  • Make sure you have interesting placemats, cutlery and bowls for children. This makes breakfast more exciting.
  • Make sure all family members are assigned chores to do in the morning. Plan to share the breakfast preparation; even young children can help in some way.
  • Do not turn on the television set in the morning.
  • Vary your breakfast options to prevent boredom.

To help tackle the problem of children without access to breakfast at home, Kellogg partners with FoodBank South Africa in the Kellogg’s Breakfast for Better Days initiative, which is endorsed by the Department of Basic Education. Kellogg dishes up a breakfast of cereal and milk to 25 000 school children every school day in four South African provinces. Consumers can help by purchasing Kellogg’s cereals with the Kellogg’s Breakfast for Better Days™ banner on the box: a percentage of the proceeds go towards the school feeding initiative. The initiative is part of Kellogg’s global target: feeding 1 billion servings of cereal and snacks by 2016.

“We are pleased with the feedback we are getting from teachers, who tell us about the positive difference breakfast is making to their learners,” said Kruger.

BFBD Power of breakfast infographic

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