Guests Susie Rucker, from Body and Soul, and Vivian Pei, Culinary Instructor
Q Why is breakfast so important for children?
Vivian Pei Children sleep about 11 hours at night and their bodies are empty so they need nutrition to get their bodies moving before they go to school and study, which is difficult for children of any age. Fruits are a great way to start breakfast because they digest the easiest. Other breakfast ideas are eggs on wholemeal toast or homemade granola bars.
Susie Rucker Breakfast is often a meal that is skipped or rushed and I think a little preparation can help. For example, prepare some healthy smoothies the night before — they are “superfoods”, act as a source of protein and are a brain food. Don’t skip breakfast and always try to get some protein in.
Q What are the different food groups and how are they important?
SR The key to maximum nutrition in kids is to ensure good, clean protein in their meals. Also include dark, green leafy vegetables. Get creative and include them in smoothies or soups. Children also need good fat/oil for better blood regulation and to help them feel full for longer. Use coconut oil or avocado.
Q How do you get children to eat their vegetables?
VP It’s training from young. Parents are role models. Make vegetables delicious by frying them with garlic or cooking them in chicken stock so they have lots of flavour. I don’t hide their vegetables because I want them to know that they are actually eating greens.
SR I really agree with Vivian that parents are role models. Something that has been lost in eating healthily is time and sitting down to eat as a family. Families should try putting green vegetables and dips on the dinner table and eat as a family — these become family moments so children are not even thinking, they are mimicking their parents on the dinner table.
Q Many parents don’t have time to cook and they bring their children to the hawker centre to eat. How can they still have the right nutrition?
SR & VP It’s all about the balance. One of the biggest foods that has an impact on children is sugar. Sugar is a big addiction but also hugely toxic. Sugar causes obesity and Type II obesity in children that are far too young. A lot of hawker-centre food contains far too much sugar. Hydration is key for children as well — make sure they are drinking enough water. Even juice can contain too much sugar.
Q Do you think children need vitamins and supplements?
SR Some children have mood and behavioural issues, so vitamins and supplements maybe needed for short periods of time — but only with clean, pure vitamins. In general, children should not need vitamins and supplements.
Q Are there any must-have snacks for busy parents to stock up?
SR Seaweed and sashimi. Get children in the kitchen to cook so they can relate with food.
VR Nuts and hummus.
Want to watch the whole First Look Asia interview for more nutritional insights? Click here. Or come down to SmartParents’ Breakfast Bonanza — have breakfast on us and your children can enjoy the bouncy castles, the Knock Out Knights and kiddy soccer!