We all hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but not everyone wakes up with a roaring appetite and a desire to sit at the table. And for families with kids in particular, there are often distinct "breakfast personalities" to work around. Here you'll find a lineup of common breakfast table challenges with strategies for each, whether you're a grown-up with no time to eat or have a child calling a mealtime strike.
1. Little Miss "I'm Just Not Hungry"
This is a tricky one. You want to respect that internal hunger-meter, but know that nourishment is a good idea before the day begins. First, consider if late-night snacking habits might be interfering with morning appetite or if the dinner hour has nudged to the later side. Minimize after dinner nibbling and try to move supper a little earlier. For children, ask them to sit at the breakfast table for at least a few minutes. They might find that a little food in front of them stirs their appetite after all. Lastly, be prepared with a good snack or drink for when hunger does strike later in the morning.
Ideas to Try
2. Mister "Picky Palate"
You don't want the breakfast table to become a battleground, but dealing with a picky eater at 7 a.m. can be trying. Often picky kids like to know what to expect, so try a planned meal rotation, being sure to include at least one item that you know they'll eat. If, for example, Monday is the day for scrambled eggs, a food they're lukewarm about, serve toast and a glass of milk as well (two foods they consistently love). Also, get them involved in the process. Have them pick out a few dishes they'd like to try. Invite them to help bake pumpkin bread or blend a smoothie. In my experience, kids are more likely to eat their food if they have a role in preparing it.
3. Little Miss "I Have No Time"
This is a common complaint for kids and grown-ups. Beyond getting everyone up 10 minutes earlier, look for foods that are quick and easy to eat. Do some of the work ahead of time, such as peeling hard-boiled eggs or cutting apple slices. Also, rest assured that even simple meals can be nutritious and satisfying (think: peanut butter or avocado toast). In a pinch, pull together food that can be taken on the road. Breakfast bars or egg wraps are good places to start.
Ideas to Try
4. Little Mister "Snail's Pace Eater"
Being a slow eater is actually a good quality over the long haul, but it can be rather inconvenient when it comes to getting out the door on time. If you or your child falls into this category, get to the table a little sooner than everyone else to allow eating at a natural pace. With kids, give them a five-minute warning when it's time to think about finishing up.
5. Little Miss "I Only Eat One Thing"
The downside for "creature of habit" eaters is that choosing the same meal every day limits the range of nutrients in your diet. That said, it's not the end of the world. Consider small changes to the current routine over time, such as adding fruit to breakfast cereal or putting eggs on a tortilla instead of toast. With kids, try to get their buy-in on a "try it on Tuesday" approach, whereby every Tuesday they agree to try something new at breakfast. Who knows? They may just like it.