By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern
Growing up, my absolute favorite breakfast meal was a big bowl of Cocoa Puffs cereal. There was nothing more satisfying in the morning than those little chocolatey balls that turned your plain milk into chocolate milk. As I grew up, however, I began to realize that the delicious cereal that I enjoyed as a child really had no nutritional value but was rather just a source of empty carbs and a whole lot of sugar!
A HuffPost article that was recently published broke down what nutrients are most important for people at certain life stages to eat for breakfast. Unfortunately, Cocoa Puffs was not one of them.
The article suggested that young children ages 2-6, need to get plenty of fiber in their diet by eating food items such as high-fiber fruits and toast, and also vitamin D and Iron from foods such as eggs. It also noted that the pickiness that often characterizes kids can be combatted by cutting foods into small pieces and providing a mixed snack plate.
School-aged children, 12 and under, need to get as much calcium and vitamin D as possible. The article states that oftentimes, children in this age bracket are not getting enough of these nutrients that are vital to their development. Dairy products are a great way to ensure that your child is consuming enough calcium and vitamin D.
Teenagers, ages 13-17, are recommended to be getting plenty of protein to keep them fueled through their busier schedules. The article also noted that it is during this age group that iron is increasingly important, as both boys and girls of this age are beginning to reach puberty.
Young adults, ages 18-30, are recommended to get nutrition in general. Once people hit this age, when they are out on their own and busy with work, skipping meals becomes the norm. Thus, the article suggests people within this age bracket opt for convenient foods like oatmeal cups, individual yogurts, or bottled smoothies.
Middle aged adults, ages 40-60, are likely not getting enough fiber. Registered dietician Kimberly Rose-Francis suggests bumping up daily fiber intake at breakfast, by choosing foods that include whole grains, fruits, or vegetables. Keeping fiber intake high keeps you regular, and helps to maintain good gut health.
Seniors, or those who are 60 and older, are encouraged to consume a lot of protein, because at this aged, muscle mass begins to decrease. Rose-Francis also mentions that it is important to ensure that those in this age group are eating enough, since appetite begins to wane around this time. Eating for brain health is also something to keep in mind, so Omega-3s and antioxidants are also nutrients to include.
So, while a nice bowl of cocoa puffs can still be enjoyed for breakfast, there are much better options that fit the specific health needs of each age category. Eating healthier foods that are nutrient-dense can help to ensure that we are meeting our nutritional needs throughout all stages of life.
For some healthy breakfast ideas, check out the breakfast recipe page on the Fill Your Plate Website!