When Uncle Buck (John Candy in the movie of the same name) rustled up a redwood-size stack of chocolate-covered pancakes for young Miles' (Macaulay Culkin) birthday breakfast, you can bet he wasn't thinking, "Well, this'll help him excel in school today!" And with all that sugar and refined carbs, Miles was more likely to become Sleepy and Grumpy (two of Snow White's favorites, we hear).
But breakfast can have magical powers IF you stack up 100 percent whole grains and lean protein. New research shows that eating breakfast every day improves your child's verbal skills, increases the ability to get assignments done, and boosts overall IQ by almost five points. And that's not all! It helps prevent diabetes and reduces the risk of - get this - lead poisoning. That's quite a mouthful!
If it's tough to get your child to eat a healthy breakfast, try these morning menu tricks:
- Offer a make-your-own smoothie: Set out fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, mangoes, and bananas, plus canned pineapple or (our favorite) green veggies. Blend with a dash of milk or fresh juice and ice!
- Make 100 percent whole-grain pancakes or steel-cut oatmeal. Tip: Instead of a breakfast smoothie, blend up some fresh fruit and spread on the pancakes or cereal in place of syrup or sugar.
- Always offer some protein and healthy fats; try peanut butter on 100 percent whole-grain toast or ground flaxseed in the smoothie or hot cereal. It helps control midmorning hunger and gets your young scholar to a healthy lunchtime.