Benefits of Breakfast for Kids

Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day

Mom was right – breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Eating breakfast perks up the metabolism, which perks up the brain. Research has shown that when compared with their breakfast-skipping peers, breakfast eaters are more likely to achieve higher grades, pay closer attention, participate more in class discussions, and manage more complex academic problems. Breakfast primes the brain for learning.

Breakfast skippers tend to be more overfat than breakfast eaters. Breakfast sets the nutritional tone for the day. When children eat a good breakfast, they are more likely to eat lean the rest of the day. When children miss breakfast, they get overly hungry and tend to overeat at lunch time. Also, research has shown that kids who eat a high-sugar breakfast tend to overeat junk food the rest of the day.

The best way to get your kids hooked on breakfast is to make it a meal that’s fun and leaves them feeling great.

Now that you know the benefits of breakfast for kids, here are some suggestions for your personal best breakfast:

Keep a mood-food diary.

Some children are more sensitive than others in terms of the influence of food on their behavior and learning. Keep a journal listing which foods perk up your child and which foods let him down. Let your child help you construct the diary; encourage him to tell you about his school day. Before too long you’ll begin to see a pattern in what he has for breakfast on a good day and what he has on a bad day. He’ll notice too!

Keep calm.

Not only does the food that your child eats at the beginning of the day affect learning and behavior, so does the family mood. Breakfast time, or the before-school hour, is not the time to get into family arguments or stress your child. There’s a biochemical reason for this. Stress hormones, in addition to affecting behavior, increase the cravings for sugary foods. You don’t want your child to be craving doughnuts as soon as he gets to school. Make your child’s breakfast a “happy meal.”

Be open to the weird.

While we are used to thinking of a nutritious breakfast as a combination of grains, fruit, and dairy, any combo of proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats is all right. After all, the Japanese enjoy fish for breakfast. (Seafood, rich in omega-3 fats and proteins, actually tops the list of brain foods.) If your child wants pizza (nutritious ingredients, please!) for breakfast, celebrate her different cuisine.

Drink and drive.

Some kids resist breakfast just because of the time it takes, especially late sleepers. These children can often be convinced to join the breakfast crowd if you can give them the meal to go. In our house, we’ve found the easiest way to do that is to make a nutrient-packed smoothie.