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Breakfast means just that: to break the fast. This important meal is a chance for us to refuel and is vital to a child’s physical health, mental well-being, and learning. Children that are encouraged to eat breakfast have more energy, are better able to focus in school, and tend to eat better throughout the rest of their day. As a teacher, I can spot the no breakfast or donuts-for-breakfast students. They are irritable, restless and tired by mid-morning. Choosing a healthy breakfast can also aid brain power. A breakfast meal loaded with whole grains and protein, but low in sugar, boosts a child’s attention span, concentration, and memory -- all of which are important to learning.
Eating breakfast also goes a long way in keeping a child’s weight in check. A student that has a nice breakfast in his or her belly is more likely to have the energy to participate in PE or other psychical activities at recess, helping maintain a healthy weight. Children that don’t start the day with breakfast are more likely to eat more calories during the day because they are famished before lunchtime. They may crave high calorie snacks or overeat at lunchtime, as a result. Eating breakfast also jump starts the body’s metabolism. When the metabolism (engine) starts moving, the body burns calories.
Brainstorm with your kids to find their favorite sources of whole grains, low fat protein, and vitamin C. A whole wheat muffin with a little peanut butter, washed down with low fat milk and a side of sliced oranges is easy to serve in the morning. Low fat yogurts, granola bars, and breakfast bars served with raw fruit or a serving of juice will get a child going in the morning, too. Take a moment to read the labels so that you are serving whole wheat or low sugar items. Don’t forget that if your kids see you are also eating a healthy breakfast they will be more determined to eat one, too. You are showing them that you have refueled both brain and body and that you are ready to face the day!
HealthyChildren.org: The Case for Eating Breakfast