Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Kids who eat a healthy breakfast do better in school

The days are slowly becoming shorter, the temperatures are falling and our children are back to school.

With school underway parents’ thoughts turn toward bus schedules, homework and report cards. Give your child an extra edge toward better grades by helping them start their day with a nutritious breakfast.

There are many benefits to be had by eating breakfast. This very important meal can provide up to 25% of the recommended daily allowance for key nutrients, such as calcium, protein, vitamins A and B6, magnesium, iron and zinc.

Eating breakfast helps children to perform better at school. This first meal of the day can improve attention, memory and cognitive function. Children who eat breakfast make fewer mistakes and work faster in math and number checking tests. They perform better in vocabulary and better handle frustration. School breakfast programs can lower absence and tardiness rates and improve standardized test scores. Adolescents who eat breakfast tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) – higher BMIs can indicate obesity.

The challenge with breakfast is that is falls at a very hectic time in the day. Parents are trying to get ready for work while also getting the kids up and out the door to catch the bus. This frenzy is coupled with the last minute drama of “I can’t find my shoes” and, “Where’s the library book?”

With this in mind, keep breakfast simple and plan ahead; prepare as much as possible the night before.

Breakfast should include foods from several food groups to provide the most benefit to children, both educationally and physically. You want to balance protein, carbohydrates and fat. This balance will prevent a drop in blood sugar for several hours. A drop in blood sugar can mean a decline in energy and symptoms of hunger that will distract your child from learning.

The following are some fast breakfast ideas that will help you and your child start the day off right.
• Whole grain cereal with 1% milk.
• 100% whole wheat bread or English muffin with peanut butter and a piece of fruit.
• Hard boiled egg with a small bagel.
• 6-8 oz of low fat yogurt with fresh or frozen blueberries and a 1⁄4 cup of granola.
• 1-2 whole grain frozen waffles, toasted with peanut butter and sliced bananas with honey drizzled on top.
• Oatmeal (made with milk) with sliced strawberries and a tablespoon of sliced almonds.
• Yogurt and fruit smoothie.
• On the fly: Carnation Instant Breakfast made with skim or 1% and a piece of fruit.
• String cheese with a piece of fruit.
• Toasted whole grain English muffin with sliced tomato and a slice of cheese melted on top.

If making breakfast at home still proves to be a challenge, contact your school office to inquire about the School Breakfast Program.

Wendy Kane is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator in the Backus Hospital Diabetes Management Center. This advice should not replace the advice from your physician. E-mail Ms. Kane and all the Healthy Living columnists at healthyliving@wwbh.org or comment on their blog at www.healthydocs.blogspot.com.

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