If you notice your children skipping breakfast, show them how beneficial eating well in the morning really is. Kids whose parents eat a healthy breakfast probably will too, according to a 2005 study in the "Journal of the American Dietetic Association." That's important to middle-school students because breakfast improves academic performance and attendance, the same study found.
Importance of Breakfast
Help your kids make the most of their school days by demonstrating the importance of breakfast. You need to know that they'll do their best at applying concentration, memory and problem-solving skills after a morning meal. They need to know that eating breakfast is not negotiable in your house. Show them that you mean business by forming an early-morning routine that includes cooking, composing or grabbing breakfast to go.
Students who eat a complete rather than partial breakfast get more right answers more rapidly on tests that involve numbers, the Food Research and Action Center reports. Complete breakfast menus should include foods from every food group. Pour low-fat milk and fortified orange or vegetable juice. Let your children help you assemble scrambled egg, black bean, cheese and creamy ranch dressing breakfast burritos to make filling tortilla wraps. Alternatively, whole-grain waffles topped with berries and yogurt or applesauce will provide lasting energy until lunchtime.
Most middle-school-aged students don't get enough calcium, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Help your kids build their calcium totals -- and their primary bone mass -- in the morning by starting with a glass of 1 percent or fat-free milk. Forming this habit as a child improves the outlook for adult bone and teeth health. Whole-wheat toast and peanut butter, leftover rice and yogurt, and instant oatmeal or ready-to-eat whole-grain cereal balance meals with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, for adolescents in their accelerated growth phase. Add fruit to every child's breakfast to provide daily vitamin C.
Meals to Go
Skipping breakfast becomes more common in adolescence, especially among girls, who may think fewer morning calories will help them stay thin. The opposite is true: Eating breakfast is associated with increased snacking and weight gain. Keep your pantry and refrigerator stocked with ready-to-go healthy breakfast foods such as individual yogurts, packaged fruit cups, mozzarella string cheese, whole-wheat bagels and almond butter.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service; "Benefits of Breakfast"; March 2009
- Food Research and Action Center; "Breakfast for Learning"; Fall 2010
- National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; "Why Are the Tween and Teen Years So Critical?"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database
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