This week on The Modern Parent, Miss Heather talked all about the importance of eating breakfast. Click here to watch!
Breakfast is an essential part of our body’s health and daily functions. But for children who attend school each day, this meal is often a struggle, as one in five children in our nation struggle with hunger. In America, more than 16 million children, or 1 in 5, live in households that struggle to put food on the table for their families each day. In fact, 22 percent of children under the age of 18 live in poverty across America and over 9 million children in the US receive free or reduced lunch and breakfast each day at their school. However, over 10 million other children who are eligible for this federally supported service still go without breakfast each day. Three out of five teachers in America report that they teach children who come to school hungry every day. If children come to school hungry, they are not able to focus and therefore not able perform as well as their peers who eat breakfast daily. Research shows that children who eat breakfast achieve over 17% higher on standardized math tests and are 20% more likely to graduate from high school. Feeding children breakfast can have a significant impact on their future health and academic success. Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Breakfast is indeed a very important meal. A good breakfast fuels you up and gets you ready for the day. In general, kids and teens who eat breakfast have more energy, do better in school, are more likely to do physical activities and eat healthier throughout the day. Without breakfast, people can get irritable, restless, and tired. So make time for breakfast — for you and your kids What if I skip breakfast? Skipping breakfast can make kids feel tired, restless, or irritable. In the morning, their bodies need to refuel for the day ahead after going without food for 8 to 12 hours during sleep. Their mood and energy can drop by midmorning if they don’t eat at least a small morning meal. Breakfast also can help keep kids’ weight in check. Breakfast kick-starts the body’s metabolism, the process by which the body converts the fuel in food to energy. And when the metabolism gets moving, the body starts burning calories. Also, people who don’t eat breakfast often consume more calories throughout the day and are more likely to be overweight. That’s because someone who skips breakfast is likely to get famished before lunchtime and snack on high-calorie foods or overeat at lunch. I just don’t have the time for breakfast in the morning! If you find that your morning routines are “too rushed” for breakfast, it’s time to rethink your families’ morning routines. First, in order to make time for this critical meal of the day, everyone should be up and at ‘em 15 minutes earlier – this will prevent your family member from “rushing” in the morning. Next, plan ahead. Prepare breakfast in advance by cutting fruit the night before, or scooping cereal into small airtight containers your kids can help themselves to in the morning. My kids don’t like breakfast food! It’s important for kids to have breakfast every day, but what they eat in the morning is crucial too. Choosing breakfast foods that are rich in whole grains, fiber, and protein while low in added sugar may boost kids’ attention span, concentration, and memory — which they need to learn in school. Kids who eat breakfast are more likely to get fiber, calcium, and other important nutrients. They also tend to keep their weight under control, have lower blood cholesterol levels and fewer absences from school, and make fewer trips to the school nurse with stomach complaints related to hunger. If you find that your kids don’t “like” breakfast food, try to see what healthy items they do eat throughout the day that can be used for breakfast alternatives. Sure, toaster pastries and some breakfast bars are portable, easy, and appealing to kids. But many have no more nutritional value than a candy bar and are high in sugar and calories. Read the nutrition labels carefully before you toss these breakfast bars and pastries into your shopping cart. Breakfast still doesn’t seem practical for our family… It would be great to be a short order cook each morning for your family, but the reality is, no one has time to really cook a warm breakfast each day. Try some of these practical solutions to jump start your new breakfast routines: •Stock your kitchen with healthy breakfast options – DO NOT BUY JUNK! If it is out of sight, it is out of mind! •Prepare as much as you can the night before (gets dishes and utensils ready, cut up fruit, etc.) •Let kids help plan and prepare breakfast •Have grab-and-go alternatives (fresh fruit, individual boxes of cereal, yogurt or smoothies, trail-mix) on days when there is little or no time to eat •Whole-grain cereal topped with fruit and low-fat yogurt •Whole-grain waffles topped with peanut butter, fruit, or ricotta cheese •Whole-wheat pita stuffed with sliced hard-cooked eggs •Hot cereal topped with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, or cloves •Peanut butter on a whole-grain bagel with fresh fruit (banana or apple wedges) and low-fat milk •Breakfast smoothie (low-fat milk or yogurt, fruit, and teaspoon of bran, whirled in a blender) •Vegetable omelet with whole-wheat toast and orange juice •Bran muffin and yogurt with berries •Hummus on whole-wheat pita and milk •Lean turkey on a toasted English muffin and vegetable juice •Heated leftover rice with chopped apples, nuts, and cinnamon, plus fruit juice •Low-fat cream cheese and fresh fruit, such as sliced strawberries, on whole-grain bread or a whole-grain bagel