When babies are little, we feed them first thing every morning. Yet somehow, as kids get older and the morning routine gets more rushed, children (and especially teenagers) are leaving the house without breakfast.
Breakfast has been touted for years as the “most important meal of the day,” and there’s actually a lot of truth in that statement. Not only does it get the body’s metabolism up and running in the morning, but it also affects school performance. (And a caffeinated soda or coffee on the way to Staples, Ludlow, Warde or Prep just doesn’t cut it!)
“Study after study shows that kids who eat breakfast function better,” says Dr. Marcie Beth Schneider, a member of the AAP’s Committee on Nutrition, in a recent article entitled The Case for Eating Breakfast. Not only does a morning meal improve behavior, but it also enhances memory and school performance in general.
Also, when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, breakfast (particularly cereal) can play a key role. A 2008 study in the journal of Pediatrics found that adolescents who ate breakfast daily had a lower BMI than teens who never or rarely ate breakfast. “We know that the biggest predictor of overeating is undereating,” says Dr. Schneider. “Many of these kids skip breakfast and lunch, but then go home and don’t stop eating.”
There’s still more good news about breakfast: many breakfast foods are also excellent sources of many of the nutrients children and teenagers need. Calcium-rich foods such as milk and yogurt along with fiber-rich foods such as cereal and whole wheat bread are perfect choices for the morning meal. (Keep in mind, however, that cereals with high-sugar content may not be the best choices for children and teens.)
Now that we’ve shared why breakfast is important, here are some practical tips for getting your child to actually eat breakfast:
- Make it part of the morning routine. Set the food out for your child and set aside enough time for him or her to sit down and eat it.
- Be a good role model. When mom or dad sits down and eats breakfast, it reinforces the importance of starting the day right.
- Purchase or prepare some good “on the go” breakfast options. To-go foods such as yogurts, hard-boiled eggs, granola bars, bananas and dried fruit can be eaten on the run. If your child must eat on the go, then send him or her out the door with one or more of these options.
Willows Pediatrics is fortunate to have a nutritionist on site. If you have questions about your child’s diet or would like to work out a meal plan that includes healthy breakfast options, we would gladly consult with you directly or put you in contact with our on-site nutritionist.
In the meantime, make breakfast a part of your daily routine. Everyone in your family will benefit from a little morning fuel!