The Importance of Breakfast
 

Breakfast:  Critical Fuel For Learning!

 “Wake up!  Get out of bed sleepyhead! “  Your student rolls over and groans while you go about getting ready for your day.   Ten minutes later he is still dozing and you are both behind schedule.  By the time he’s done brushing his teeth, you both hurry to bolt out the door or he will miss the school bus and you will be late to work.  Missing from the routine:  Breakfast.

 Does this routine sound familiar? For the majority of students seen in the school health office in the mornings complaining of headaches, stomach aches, nausea, fatigue, and inability to concentrate, skipping breakfast is the culprit.  It’s time to BREAK THE FAST!  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) breakfast provides nutrition the body craves to get going for the rest of the day.   The breakfast meal is an optimal time to provide the nutrients that your child needs such as vitamin D, calcium, whole grains, and fiber.  This nutrition is optimal for school performance.  “Study after study shows that kids who eat breakfast have better concentration, energy, and overall better school performance” says the AAP.  Simply put, your child does not have the fuel to learn if he doesn’t eat breakfast. 

 In an article at healthychildren.org, an organization powered by pediatricians and backed by the AAP, approximately 8 to 12 percent of school-age children skip breakfast.  By adolescence, 20 to 30 percent have given up the morning meal completely.  This habit formed at a young age will have a profound negative impact on the body and can affect weight, sleep, exercise, and general nutrition.  This can equate to poor learning and a lifetime of poor health.

What can you do?  The following four quick tips are recommended by the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition for breakfast meals:

  • Plan ahead:  Prepare breakfast items over the weekend like muffins, boiled eggs, egg muffin sandwiches, trail mix, or bags of cereal to eat on the run.  Wash fruits and bag up serving sizes of things like berries or even celery and carrots the evening before so they are quick to grab in the morning.
  • Eat within 2 hours of waking.  Sitting down to eat is optimal, but eating on the go is better than not eating at all.
  • Include at least 3 food groups, i.e. cereal, cheese stick, and fruit. 
  • Include a healthy protein source like low-fat dairy products, lean meats, eggs, nuts, or peanut butter toast. 
  • Include a healthy carbohydrate high in fiber like fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals or toast, and whole-wheat muffins or waffles. 

 Other quick breakfast foods: pre-frozen smoothies made with yogurt, berries, and a protein powder or flax seed; whole-grain waffle PBJ; ham and cheese sandwiches (you can freeze these the weekend before and put in the fridge the night before); dried fruit; or as a last resort, protein bars or trail mix. 

 One last important thing:  do not consume caffeine or energy drinks in the morning.  These items raise blood pressure and heart rate and have very little nutritional value.

Here’s to your day!

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