The best breakfast foods for every age group

Like most kids, I was obsessed with sugary breakfast cereals, especially Cinnamon Toast Crunch. My mom rarely gave me it, but the square cinnamon sticks were my favorite morning meal, even if the choice wasn’t ideal for a growing 7-year-old.

Each stage of life requires a focus on different nutrients, from calcium and iron in childhood to protein and omega-3 fatty acids in the golden years. HuffPost interviewed four dieticians to find the ideal breakfast for each stage of life.

Small child (2 to 6 years old)

Toddlers are known to be picky eaters and enjoy a limited rotation of familiar foods. This can cause problems in the bathroom department, according to Sue-Ellen Anderson-Haynes, a registered dietitian and the founder of 360Girls & Women.

“Pediatricians tend to see parents of children around this age group complaining more about constipation,” Anderson-Haynes told HuffPost. “In fact, constipation is the most common complaint from parents and affects about 30% of children (preschoolers and older children).” The solution? More fiber in fun and familiar foods, such as fiber-rich waffles and fruit.

Registered Nutritionist Marissa Meshulam provided another solution for fussy little kids at breakfast – a snack plate. Cut an egg into bite-sized portions, slice toast, sprinkle with some avocado and add some fruit for a balanced and varied breakfast.

“TThe egg and avocado provide healthy fats for their brain development, the fruit provides some antioxidants, and the toast provides some fiber and carbohydrates for energy,” Meshulam said. “The egg also contains vitamin D and iron, which are important for bone health. and muscle development.”

School age (12 years and under)

Crucial to this period are calcium and vitamin D, and children may not consume adequate amounts essential for bone development and strong teeth, according to to different studies.

“LIt’s important to build up calcium stores while the child is young, because as you get older, calcium absorption decreases,” Anderson-Haynes said.

If you choose an alt milk in your smoothie, cereal or coffee, look for one fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

Alexander Spatari via Getty Images

If you choose an alt milk in your smoothie, cereal or coffee, look for one fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

An easy way to make sure your little one is getting enough calcium and vitamin D is a smoothie. Combine fruits for carbs and sweetness, nut butters, seeds or nuts for fat and satiety, and yogurt or milk (plant or dairy) for protein and calcium, according to Anderson-Haynes and Meshulam.

“Yes,You can even sneak in some veggies (like spinach or frozen cauliflower rice) for extra nutrition they won’t taste,” Meshulam added.

If you choose an alt milk, look for one fortified with calcium and vitamin D, as not all are created equal.

“One cup of milk or soy milk provides 200 mg of calcium,” Anderson-Haynes said. “That’s 20% of the recommended daily intake, which is 1,000 mg per day for children in this age group.” Look for a label that says fortified, or check the nutrition facts panel for at least 300 mg of calcium.

Teens (13 to 17 years)

Early starts and overcrowded schedules can make it difficult for teens to get enough fuel for their busy schedules. Eggs, sausage, bacon and toast can be the filling and nourishing start that gets teens through the day, according to Meshulam.

She suggests eggs and something like Applegate Organics Chicken & Apple Breakfast Sausage, which is organic and contains nothing artificial for a combination of protein and iron.

“Iron is becoming increasingly important for female teens who are starting to menstruate, and protein is important for their growing muscles,” Meshulam said. “The bread provides them with fiber-rich carbohydrates for their various activities.” Add some fruit for fiber and antioxidants.

Getting adequate amounts of iron at this stage is crucial for both boys and girls. Beans are an excellent source. Swap black beans, pinto beans, or chickpeas for a breakfast taco with a variety of toppings and flavors.

IFor example, 1 cup of cooked black beans provides about 5 mg of iron, about 30-40% of the iron needed for adolescent girls and boys, respectively,” said Anderson-Haynes. “Eggs or plant-based eggs made from chickpeas also provide some iron in this meal. Vitamin C in the tomatoes helps with the absorption of non-heme iron (vegetable iron).”

Young adults (18 to 30 years old)

On their own for the first time, young adults often struggle to eat something for breakfast. And while it’s not the most important meal of the day, finding some fuel is essential.

“Remembering the basic rule that ‘anything is better than nothing’ may help some people eat breakfast regularly to fuel their brains and keep their bodies moving,” registered dietitian Barb Ruhs said.

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If time is an issue, try one of the many on-the-go options like muesli bars, instant oatmeal cups or frozen ready-to-drink smoothies.

“If you want to focus more on nutrition, I recommend at least two food groups: 1) whole wheat bread (cereals) and fresh produce (avocado), 2) Greek yogurt (dairy) with fresh fruit (berries) or 3) a breakfast burrito (eggs and grains),” Ruhs advised.

The 2020-2025 dietary guidelines for Americans found that most adults aren’t consuming enough calcium and vitamin D, which isn’t just for building bones and teeth.

“Calcium is important for bone metabolism, nerve conduction and endocrine support, while vitamin D is important for calcium absorption,” R said.registered dietitian and nutritionist Kimberly Rose-Francis. With that in mind, options like Greek yogurt parfait, cottage cheese toast with salmon, or a banana pecan smoothie made with 2% milk can support your calcium and vitamin D needs.

Middle age (40 to 60 years old)

You probably don’t eat enough fiber, because more than 90% of American men and women do not meet their recommended dietary intake. Rose-Francis said you can increase it at breakfast with whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

“A loaded vegetable omelet, whole-wheat pancakes, and oatmeal are high-fiber breakfast options,” Rose-Francis said. Fiber is essential for healthy digestion and promotes good gut microbes and regularity.

Seniors (60 years and older)

Not just for athletes, eating enough protein at this stage is essential to maintain muscle mass, which naturally deteriorates with age.

“Scrambled eggs and protein shakes with at least 16 grams of protein are good breakfast options for seniors,” Rose-Francis said. “Protein-rich foods that are easy to chew can help maintain strength and muscle mass.” Since appetite decreases at this stage of life, it is also vital to make sure you eat enough.

Boosting brain function can also be on your mind at this stage of life, meaning you need to focus on getting your omega-3 fatty acids by eating nuts and seedsand antioxidant-rich products such as berries, which have been shown to help prevent cognitive decline.

“Frozen berries are easy to keep on hand, and it’s a great routine to fill a whole-grain cereal/oatmeal daily with a handful of brain-boosting berries to preserve memory and provide the diet with powerful antioxidants,” Ruhs said.

She also suggests a hearty breakfast of salmon, which contains brain-boosting omega-3 fats, vitamin D, selenium, iron and marine-based antioxidants.

“Choose land-based (farmed) salmon if you’re looking for a mercury-free salmon with all the great benefits of their wild cousins,” Ruhs said.

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