The best breakfast foods to eat for every age group

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

Each stage of life requires focusing on different nutrients, from calcium and iron in childhood to protein and omega 3s in the prime of life. HuffPost interviewed four dietitians to find the perfect breakfast for every stage of life.

Small Child (2 to 6 years old)

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

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

Registered Nutritionist Marissa Meshulam provided another solution for fussy little kids at breakfast ― a snack plate. Cut an egg into bite-size pieces, slice toast into strips, brush it with avocado and include fruit for a balanced and diverse breakfast.

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

School age (12 and under)

Calcium and vitamin D are crucial during this time, and children may not be getting the adequate amounts that are essential for bone development and strong teeth, according to several studies.

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

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

A smoothie is an easy way to make sure your little one is getting enough calcium and vitamin D. Combine fruit for carbs and sweetness, nut butter, seeds or nuts for fat and satiety , and yogurt or milk (vegetable or dairy) for protein and calcium, according to Anderson-Haynes and Meshulam.

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

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

“A cup of milk or soymilk 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.

Teenagers (13 to 17 years old)

Early departures and busy schedules can make it difficult for teens to have enough fuel for their busy schedules. According to Meshulam, eggs, sausages, bacon and toast could be the start of filling and nourishment that fuels teens through their day.

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

“Iron is becoming increasingly important for adolescent girls starting their periods, and protein is important for their muscle growth,” Meshulam said. “Bread provides them with fiber-rich carbohydrates for their various activities.” Add fruit for fiber and antioxidants.

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

For example, 1 cup of cooked black beans provides approximately 5 mg of iron, about 30 to 40 percent of the iron needed by teenage girls and boys, respectively,” Anderson-Haynes said. “Eggs or plant-based chickpea eggs also add iron to this meal. Vitamin C in tomatoes helps absorb non-heme iron (vegetable iron).

Young adults (18 to 30 years old)

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

“Remembering the rule of thumb that ‘anything is better than nothing’ can help some people commit to eating a regular breakfast to fuel their brains and bodies,” says dietician Barb Ruhs.

Rx bars

Healthy Snack Bars Kids and Nutritionists Approve

If time is an issue, try one of the many on-the-go options like granola bars, instant oatmeal cups Where frozen premade smoothies.

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

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans found that most adults aren’t getting 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,” said rRegistered Dietitian 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 could meet your calcium and vitamin D needs.

Middle Ages (40 to 60 years old)

You are probably not eating enough fiber because more than 90% of American men and women do not meet their recommended nutrient intakes. Rose-Francis says you can up your breakfast intake with whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

“A loaded veggie omelet, whole grain pancakes and oatmeal are high-fiber breakfast options,” Rose-Francis says. Fiber is essential for healthy digestion, supporting good gut microbes and regularity.

Seniors (60 years and over)

Not just for gym bros, eating enough protein is essential at this stage to preserve 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 says. “Foods that are high in protein and easy to chew can help preserve strength and muscle mass.” Since appetite decreases at this stage of life, it is also essential to ensure that you are eating enough.

Boosting brain function may also be on your mind at this stage of life, which means you need to focus on getting your Omega 3 while eating nuts and seedsand antioxidant-rich products like 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 top a whole-grain cereal/oatmeal every day with a handful of brain-boosting berries to help maintain memory and infuse the diet with powerful antioxidants,” Ruhs said.

She also suggests a tasty breakfast with salmon, which is packed with brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, selenium, iron and marine antioxidants.

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

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