When your kids get up in the morning to prepare for school, it's probably been 10 to 12 hours since their last meal.
Yet they seem to find all kinds of reasons to skip breakfast. They say they don't feel like eating, they don't have time, they would rather get a few more minutes of sleep, or they aren't interested in what's on your breakfast menu.
They end up missing out on the many benefits of eating breakfast.
Breakfast is important because it "breaks" the "fast." It provides energy and gets the metabolism going after the hours without food. It supplies vitamins and minerals needed to maintain good health.
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Ample research shows that kids who eat breakfast have better test scores, longer attention spans in school and healthier body weights. They do better in terms of cooperation, discipline and relationships with others. Kids who regularly eat breakfast tend to have more nutritious diets overall than those who skip, and they miss fewer days of school.
How can you convince your kids to eat as they start their day? Have a plan. Start by identifying nutritious foods they like and will eat. Select a variety of foods, representing the different food groups, so energy is provided in a steady supply as sugars, complex carbohydrates, proteins and fats are digested.
These nutrients can come from traditional breakfast foods such as cereal, fruit and milk. Read labels: Choose cereal that has at least 3 grams of fiber per serving, and no more than 9 grams of sugar per serving.
Choose low-fat dairy products. Serve fresh fruits or vegetables (or frozen or canned when fresh is not available), or 100 percent fruit juices without added sugar. Or break from tradition and consider peanut butter on whole grain bread with fruit and milk. Melt cheese on a tortilla. Mix fresh or frozen fruit in yogurt with granola. Hardboiled eggs are prepared ahead and easy to grab. Leftover pizza may tempt the taste buds.
A family breakfast where everyone sits together to eat is great, but it is unrealistic in many households. Mornings are often hectic and busy, so make simple preparations the night before and involve your kids in the process. Even having the cereal already poured in a bowl saves a step in the morning rush.
Even with the best efforts, some kids won't eat before they leave for school. School breakfast is a great option, providing the needed mix of protein, vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates. They are planned to meet nutrient standards and dietary guidelines.
School breakfast is free for students who qualify for free lunches. With so many options available, no child needs to go without breakfast each morning.