It's not just an old wives' tale -- studies have demonstrated that eating breakfast helps students succeed in school. Plus, it can help them control their weight and get the nutrients they need. If your kids are reluctant to eat in the morning, making breakfast as convenient and delicious as possible will help them build good habits.
Benefits of Breakfast
Kids who eat breakfast have higher test scores than kids who skip breakfast. Eating breakfast helps kids concentrate, think creatively and get along with classmates. Breakfast also helps kids get the nutrients they need, such as calcium and fiber. Eating breakfast makes kids less likely to be tardy or absent, and decreases the frequency with which they visit the school nurse.
Consequences of Skipping Breakfast
Skipping breakfast has worse consequences than a few unpleasant hunger pangs. Skipping breakfast can lead to weight problems; according to the University of Tennessee Extension, people who skip breakfast tend to eat about 100 more calories per day, and they're more likely to be overweight. Skipping breakfast can also make kids irritable and tired.
The best breakfasts include starch and protein, which helps students stay energized for longer. If you give kids sugary foods, such as toaster pastries or donuts, their blood sugar will temporarily spike and they'll feel hungry and tired within an hour or two. However, breakfasts that contain starch and protein -- such as an English muffin and peanut butter, cheese and crackers, yogurt and toast or instant oatmeal and fruit -- take longer to digest, so they help students stay full and energized for hours.
Making Breakfast Convenient
Make breakfast more convenient for your kids by stocking up on breakfast essentials, such as multi-grain English muffins, whole grain toast, yogurt, fresh fruit, string cheese, cereal, oatmeal, bagels and granola bars. Keep breakfast foods in highly visible locations, and cut up fruit the night before. Make sure kids get up early enough to spend ten minutes eating breakfast; helping them pack their backpacks and set out their clothes and school supplies the night before can make mornings easier.
Convincing Reluctant Kids
Don't force your kids to eat a specific item for breakfast. Instead, give them a selection of healthy choices. If they aren't hungry when they wake up or if the idea of food makes them nauseous, help them pack something healthy they can eat in the car or when they get to school, such as string cheese and crackers. You can also offer easy-to-digest breakfasts, such as fruit and yogurt smoothies. After getting in the habit of eating breakfast, kids will begin feeling hungry in the morning.