Nutrition might be the last thing on the minds of busy college students, but caring moms should encourage a daily breakfast before class. Mood, school performance and body weight all depend partly on an adequate morning supply of energy. This formula doesn't suddenly arise in college-age young adults but has been observed in young schoolchildren as well. Offer your children convenient, healthy breakfast foods at home, and they will be more likely to choose them on the road or at the college cafeteria.
Academic and Weight-Control Benefits
According to research findings published in the May 2005 "Journal of the American Dietetic Association," breakfast can improve cognitive function, especially the memory skills needed for exam taking, in children and adolescents. This benefits academic performance and may motivate students toward better attendance. Healthy morning meals improve blood glucose levels and mood, allowing students to concentrate more fully and preventing the tendency to overeat at later meals. Even a non-traditional, grab-and-go healthy snack, such as a package of raw vegetable slices and a serving-sized cup of creamy dip, helps provide essential vitamins and fiber. In short, college kids can think, learn and test better as well as control their weight by eating -- not skipping -- breakfast.
Coffee is an effective pick-me-up in the morning, but caffeinated beverages shouldn't eliminate dairy products from students' diets. Breakfast helps college-age children get an early start on achieving their full daily values of essential calcium and vitamin D, which are nutritionally interdependent. Low-fat milk and some fortified yogurts have both nutrients. Alternative sources include enriched soy and rice drinks and fortified prepared orange juice.
Grains and Protein
Quick breakfasts should include foods rich in dietary fiber and protein for filling meals that provide lasting energy. The 2005 study found ready-to-eat whole-grain cereals particularly successful in meeting these criteria. Wheat bran flakes and oatmeal offer both substantial fiber and protein when paired with milk. Additional healthy foods to eat on the way to class include whole-wheat toast, waffles or bagels spread with peanut or almond butter.
A varied diet is crucial to overall health, and foods from the fruit group provide important vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Berries, raisins, peaches, oranges and other fruits are nutritious and easy to eat on the run. College students may be vulnerable to colds and the flu, and steady vitamin C intake can decrease the severity of these infectious illnesses, relates the National Institutes of Health.
- The Tufts Daily; Nutrition, Academic Performance Linked to Healthy Morning Meal; Carter Rogers; September 2009
- "Journal of the American Dietetic Association"; Breakfast Habits ... and Academic Performance in Children and Adolescents; Gail C. Rampersaud, MS, RD, et al.; May 2005
- National Institutes of Health; Common Cold; June 2011
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images