Breakfast, Kids and Learning

Written By: Mary M. Alward
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For generations parents have been telling their kids that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and believe it or not, it's true. Children go to bed early. When they wake up the next morning, they've fasted for approximately ten hours. A nutritional breakfast is needed to refuel their body and brain. This assists them in remaining alert in class, gives them the stamina to face the day, allows a wider range of verbal skills, improves memory and assists in general problem solving.

On the other hand, children who skip breakfast have low self-esteem and have trouble focusing on tasks and problem solving in the classroom. A child who has no refueled with breakfast also has a shorter attention span and is more often absent because of illness. This is because the child's body runs out of energy early in the day, which causes them to feel tired and restless and to experience irritability and mood swings. This can cause behavior issues. When children are hungry, they eat more later in the day and may overeat or consume foods that are high in calories, which can result in weight gain. Breakfast helps kids maintain their body weight because it gets their metabolism working, which in turn allows their bodies to burn calories.

Nutritional Breakfast Foods

For a nutritional breakfast be sure to serve at least one food from each of the food groups. A glass of fresh juice or a piece of fruit, a whole grain cereal or muffin, yogurt or a glass of milk is a great way for kids to start the day. If you have lots of nutritional foods on hand, lay-out a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy products and allow kids to choose what they like best. This will encourage them to eat a healthy breakfast, which in turn prepares them for a day of learning. Research shows that a breakfast high in calcium, fiber and protein make for less health issues and keep kids learning on a daily basis.

Tips to Ensure a Nutritional Breakfast

In today's society mornings can be utter chaos. Parents are running around trying to get ready for work, while at the same time they're scrambling to get their kids fed and off to school. This makes it more difficult to ensure that a healthy breakfast is served. Yes, it would be wonderful to sit down around the table for a family breakfast, but in many cases this just isn't practical. Use the following tips to ensure that your kids have a nutritional breakfast before heading off to school.

Get everyone in the family up 15 minutes earlier.

Let kids help with breakfast preparations the previous evening. The table can be set and fruits or vegetables can be cut.

Be sure to stock up on a variety of healthy breakfast foods so kids can have a wide variety of choices.

If time is short, offer fruits, single servings of cereal, yogurt and other nutritional foods that kids can take with them to school. This allows them to have breakfast on the bus or on the playground.

What Not to Serve

Never serve kids toaster strudel, pastry or breakfast bars of any type. These are packed with sugar, have no nutritional value and are filled with calories. Sugar-coated cereal is also a bad choice. Instead, choose breakfast foods from the food groups that are high in nutrition.

I'm not Hungry

If your kids say they're not hungry and choose not to eat breakfast at home, pack a breakfast and place it in their backpack. Some kids can't tolerate food first thing in the morning, but may be able to tolerate it before class begins. Include berries, dry cereal, trail mix, fresh or dried fruit, trail mix, nuts and other nutritional foods. If your child is unable to tolerate food before leaving the house, check with the school or daycare center. Many offer a breakfast program. If so, be sure the food offered in the program is healthy and nutritious.

A Balanced Breakfast

You don't have to serve a traditional breakfast in order for it to be nutritious, but the one you do serve should be well-balanced. This means providing foods that are high in fiber as well as carbohydrates and protein. Fiber helps your child feel full and prevent overeating. Carbohydrates give immediate energy. Protein is a source of energy when all energy from carbohydrates has been burned. When fiber, carbohydrates and protein are combined with an adequate quantity of water, your child is prepared for a day of learning.

Protein

Protein if found in lean meat, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy products, seeds, nuts and dried beans that have been cooked.

Fiber

A good source of fiber is cereal, whole grain muffins and bread, bran, fruit, vegetables, beans and nuts.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are found in brown rice, whole wheat bagels, bread and muffins as well as fruits and vegetables.

Send you child off to school after serving a breakfast that is high in nutrition and they will be well prepared for a day of learning and fun. It's a proven fact that children who eat a nutritious breakfast get higher grades, get along better with their peers and are more successful at school than those kids who don't eat breakfast. This is because both their body and brain has been refueled and they are alert and energetic, which allows them to learn more successfully.

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