Breakfast is Brain Fuel

We've been told that pushing our children to eat can set the stage for eating disorders, but something deep down, some kind of instinct, tells us not to allow our kids to skip breakfast. Yet, according to the American Dietetic Association, there are more than 40 percent of girls and 32 percent of boys skipping breakfast on a regular basis. Is it better to push the issue with our kids, or leave it alone? And if we let them skip breakfast, how does this affect their school performance?

Better Scores

The answer to the latter question is clear: Kids who don't eat breakfast aren't consuming the needed nutrients to fuel their bodies with the energy needed for concentrating in class and for doing schoolwork. A study conducted in Minnesota showed a direct correlation between breakfast and school performance. The study showed that children who eat breakfast have better scores in math and reading, a longer attention span and improved behavior.

Performance Benefits

Eating breakfast brings the following school performance benefits:

The body is fueled with the energy it needs to start the day

Hunger symptoms like headache, fatigue, irritability, daydreaming, and restlessness are eliminated

Thought processes are quicker, response time is accelerated, and there's increased mental performance

Kids are calmer and less anxious when they've eaten a good breakfast

In general, eating breakfast improves a child's health. Kids who eat breakfast get more of the nutrients needed for healthy growth, such as iron, calcium, fiber, magnesium, and phosphorus, along with vitamins like vitamins A, C, B12, and riboflavin. Children who are regular breakfast eaters are also less liable to become overweight, have better blood cholesterol levels, get fewer colds and flu viruses, and have fewer visits to the school nurse for tummy aches.

In order to battle breakfast-kipping, it's a good idea to understand some of the excuses kids give for not eating their morning meal. While some of the excuses are understandable, none of them are good enough reason to give up this important meal:

Oversleeping--set the alarm earlier

Not hungry--serve a smoothie made from milk and fruit to tempt tired palates

No time--organize for school the previous evening, laying out clothes, and preparing school lunches and backpacks.

Dislike of breakfast foods--try something out of the ordinary, like leftover chicken or pizza

On a diet--teach your child about nutrition. Skipping meals slows down the metabolism which can keep one from taking off extra weight and can even cause weight gain.