Breakfast’s role in a good day at school

Before you send your kids on their way to school, it’s important to help them fuel up for the day.

In the chaos of getting ready for the school day, it can sometimes be difficult to fit in a healthy breakfast. But doing so is vitally important.

As the first meal of the day, breakfast helps get kids started on the right foot when it comes to learning. In fact, studies have found that eating breakfast benefits children and adolescents in several important ways:

  • Breakfast helps control appetite for the remainder of the day, which helps kids stay focused on learning and not their growling tummies.
  • Eating a healthy breakfast improves memory and attention, so that kids are able to more quickly retrieve knowledge they’ve stored away.
  • Kids who eat breakfast perform better in reading, math and problem solving.
  • Consistently eating breakfast has been shown to improve attendance and classroom behavior.

But despite these proven positive effects, the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that as many as 12 percent of all school-aged kids skip breakfast. The problem is more pronounced among adolescents, with up to 30 percent skipping the morning meal.

How can you make breakfast a priority in your family? Try out these tips.

  1. Set an earlier bedtime and wake time. Not having enough time is one common reason given for skipping breakfast. But a healthy breakfast is important enough to adjust your family’s schedule. Push bedtime and the morning alarm back by 15 minutes, long enough for kids to sit down and eat.
  2. Make up breakfast in advance. There are plenty of breakfast recipes that can be made in advance and quickly warmed up. Or, if your kids prefer cold foods, set out cereal, bowls and silverware on the table at night and cut up fruit for easy access in the fridge.
  3. Include grab-and-go options for the busiest days. Some mornings may simply be too busy for a sit-down meal — or an alarm clock that didn’t go off could wreak havoc. Have yogurt cups, granola bars, healthy muffins or bagels, and fruit on hand for those days.

The ideal breakfast

If you’re looking for the healthiest breakfast, what would it include? Well, you’re looking for a food or a combination of foods that will help give your kids energy and a feeling of fullness.

To get this effect, try this equation. A healthy breakfast = a carbohydrate + a protein source. If the item has healthy fat, that’s an added bonus!

Sometimes a single food may contain all three elements. For example, a granola bar may be a good option if it has peanut butter or peanuts (a source of healthy fat and protein) and granola.

Try to choose whole-wheat and low-fat options when possible, and avoid foods loaded with sugar.

Here are some combinations that fit the bill:

  • Cereal with low-fat milk and a banana
  • Whole-grain pancakes with Greek yogurt and strawberries
  • Whole-grain toast with cheese
  • Whole-grain bagel with nut butter and a sliced banana
  • Eggs with cheese and an apple
  • Kebabs with fruits or vegetables and cheese

A healthy breakfast gets your day started on the right foot. Regular checkups get your health headed down the right path. Has your child seen the pediatrician lately? Find a doctor here.