The alarm didn’t go off, you’re late for work, the kids can’t find their homework and your dog needs to be fed – time for breakfast? No way! Yet, breakfast is the most important meal for children and adults. Research has shown that children perform better in school when they have breakfast. True to its name, “breakfast” breaks the fast of the night and gets the body ready for the day ahead. If you and your children are not used to eating breakfast, start slowly with just one item and work your way up to a more balanced meal. Eating breakfast is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and research shows there are many reasons to include breakfast.
Breakfast Kick-Starts Their Brain
Eating breakfast provides energy for a child’s brain and it has been shown to improve alertness, which is important for learning. Additionally, breakfast restores the body’s glucose supply which is the only source of energy for the brain. Slow burning, whole grain carbohydrates like oatmeal and 100% whole wheat bread provide “brain food” for thinking and communication.
They’ll Think Smarter and Run Further
Children who eat breakfast have better concentration and memory performance than those who don’t. After fasting overnight, a good breakfast ensures children’s bodies are fueled and ready for learning and physical activity. A child who has not eaten breakfast will likely feel tired and struggle with focus, memory and understanding throughout the day.
They’ll Grow Up Healthy
Children who skip breakfast often don’t make up for the missed nutrients later in the day. A good breakfast can provide protein (for building and maintaining muscle), carbohydrates (for energy), calcium (for strong bones) and many other important vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are essential for healthy growth and development.
Providing children with a nutritious breakfast does not have to be time consuming or difficult. The secret is to plan ahead. Shop ahead on the weekend and get breakfast foods ready either on the weekend for the coming week or before going to bed each evening. Get school bags and clothes for the next day ready in the evening to save time in the morning.
Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas
(1) Whole grain bagels, English muffins, bread or tortillas can be combined with a number of toppings/fillers for a nutritious breakfast:
(2) Peanut butter and banana slices, served with milk
(3) Low fat cream cheese and raisins, served with milk
(4) Slice of cheese (can be melted in microwave)
(5) Sliced turkey breast
(6) Egg (cook the night before and reheat) and cheese sandwich
(7) Refried beans, with or without cheese
(8) Mix yogurt with fresh fruit, dried fruit, unsweetened cereal, or low fat granola.
(9) Serve unsweetened cereal with milk, as a finger food, with fruit added or make a trail mix with cereal, dried fruit and chopped nuts.
(10) Add fresh fruit, 100% fruit juice, plain milk, or calcium fortified non-dairy beverages (soy or rice milk) to breakfast to provide a balanced meal.
About the Author
Stacy Lofton is the Senior Registered Dietitian/ Corporate Dietitian for Knowledge Universe, the parent company of KinderCare. With over 13 years of experience as a registered dietician, Stacy is responsible for the planning and execution of KinderCare’s corporate menu feeding more than 250,000 young children each day. To ensure each and every child is provided with healthy and nutritious meals, Stacy works closely with leading manufacturers and food service distributors/ purchasing groups on the development of products unique to early childhood nutrition. Stacy received a Bachelors of Science (BS) in Nutrition and Food Management from Oregon State and Masters of Science (MS) in Health Promotion from the University of North Texas. She completed her Dietetic Internship at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, TX.