NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — There’s the familiar school day scene:  Parents pushing breakfast at their half-awake kids as the carpool honks outside, a perpetual sense of mayhem.  And then there’s the kids at the bus stop, often eating what looks like parts of their lunch, for breakfast.

We’re big on ‘no judgement’ when it comes to food and nutrition. In this case of bus-stop-breakfasts, however, it’s less about judgement and more about knowing just how much better kids could feel if they fuel their bodies well.

The back-story on breakfast for kids: Research indicates that kids who eat breakfast perform better in school, get sick less often, and are less likely to be overweight. A nourishing breakfast on a busy school morning can be easier said than done, though, so here are a few tips to help make mornings a little easier.

  • Breakfast doesn’t have to be the instant you get out of bed (just aim for something within two hours or so).
  • Breakfast also doesn’t have to consist of just breakfast food.  And it doesn’t even have to be at home.   If kids have a mid-morning break, plan for a nourishing snack that can pull double-duty as a late breakfast. 
  • Aim to include a source of protein to increase alertness and focus, and to help kids stay fuller until lunch time.
  • Add in energy-boosting carbohydrates, including fiber-rich foods like whole grain breads, cereals or fresh fruit. 
  • Make sure there’s a bit of fat.  An entirely fat-free breakfast can leave kids feeling hungry sooner.

Here’s a snapshot of what we’re seeing at bus stops, with better-for-you alternatives to help kids start their day well:

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Twizzlers + OJ => 380 calories, 89 grams carbohydrate, 59 grams sugar (26 grams added sugar), 2 grams protein

Better Bet: Fruit-flavored protein-rich yogurt + Vitaminwater Zero Sugar

  • 100 calories, 14 grams carbohydrate, 0 fiber, 5 grams sugar (0 added sugar), 15 grams protein
    • Protein-rich yogurt examples include Oikos Triple Zero, Two Good, and Siggi’s yogurt

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World’s Finest Chocolate + Coca-Cola => 560 calories, 101 grams carbohydrate, 97 grams added sugar, 3 grams protein

Better Bet: Protein-rich low-sugar granola bar + BodyArmour Lyte

  • 240 calories, 37 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 14 grams sugar (7 added sugar), 23 grams protein
    • Protein-rich granola bar examples include Kind Breakfast Protein Bar and Nature Valley Protein Bar

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Chips and Boost => 540 calories, 77 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 15 grams added sugar, 14 grams protein

Better Bet: Egg muffin, egg bites or hardboiled egg + bottle of Fairlife milk

  • 310 calories, 19 grams carbohydrate, 1.5 gram fiber, 10 grams sugar (0 added sugar), 27 grams protein
  • Egg Muffin recipe below. Also, Egg Bites available at Costco, Target, Walmart or Whole Foods; or hardboiled eggs (made fresh from whole eggs, can also buy pre-made hardboiled eggs at Costco).

RECIPE: Make-ahead Egg Muffin. It’s sort of like an omelet that can be made ahead – and it’s portable – plus it’s an excellent way to incorporate plants into breakfast (e.g. low-sodium canned beans, fresh spinach, leftover veggies from last night’s dinner).  Try using one whole egg (several essential nutrients are only found in the yolk), along with egg whites, for a low-fat, protein-packed breakfast.  Serve with antioxidant-rich fresh fruit for a source of energy-boosting carbohydrates.

Want more?  Check out Molly’s past WGNO segment with 5 top picks for protein-rich breakfast cereals, her podcast featuring nearly four dozen good-for-you Costco finds (including a bunch for breakfast), and – coming soon – her FUELED Wellness + Nutrition podcast episode that dives even deeper into this topic of ‘Stuff I see kids eating for breakfast at the bus stop’.

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FUELED Wellness + Nutrition is powered by Smoothie King. Learn about Eat Fit at Smoothie King; click here for the full list of Eat Fit options available at Smoothie King, proud sponsor of FUELED Wellness + Nutrition with Molly on WGNO. 

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Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD is a registered dietitian + nutrition journalist in New Orleans, and founder of Ochsner Eat Fit nonprofit restaurant initiative. Tune in to her podcast, FUELED | Wellness + Nutrition and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @MollyKimballRD. See more of Molly’s articles + TV segments at www.mollykimball.com, and sign up for Eat Fit Wellness Bites weekly newsletter, here.

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