Ever since I was little, I listened to my mom tell me to eat breakfast. Then I became a step-mom and told my children the exact same thing. And as a Registered Dietitian, I find I am constantly telling my patients to eat breakfast. With children going back to school and many parents back to work after vacation, once again the time is right for me to explain the “why” and the “how to” of eating breakfast.
Why: Research shows that children who eat breakfast have lower rates of absence and tardiness, higher achievement scores, and increased concentration in the classroom. Furthermore, they exhibit increased physical health. And if those aren’t good enough reasons, eating breakfast also gives kids an increased chance of meeting their nutritional needs for the day, which many children are presently not doing. Calcium, Vitamin D and fiber are just a few nutrients that are readily available in most breakfast foods.
Adults who eat breakfast regularly tend to consume fewer calories, less saturated fat and cholesterol, and have better overall nutritional status than those who don’t. I assume – based on the research done with children and concentration – that the same applies to adults at work. Personally, if I skip breakfast, it is much harder for me to get my job done efficiently and successfully.
How to: I can’t stress enough how important it is for parents to be role models to their children. If kids don’t see parents eating breakfast, they will most likely follow suit. Eating as a family is always recommended. If that’s not possible to do during the week, at least try to make it happen on the weekends. Starting at a young age, encourage your child to help make breakfast. This way as they get older, they know their way around the kitchen. Have easy to make foods available, as well as those that can be eaten on the run. The older children get, the more rebellious they may be, but that shouldn’t deter you from encouraging them to eat breakfast. I know grown patients who are still rebellious but do learn to change their ways. Better late than never!
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