Back to school, back to breakfast!

Well it’s back to our regular routine – the perfect time to take a look at the most important meal of the day: breakfast. This morning meal is critical for everyone but especially kids since they need the extra energy to focus and concentrate in the classroom.

Breakfast gives the body energy after a night of fasting. In terms of academic performance and learning, studies clearly show that kids who regularly skip breakfast are more sluggish, less attentive and have less energy for morning activities. Studies also tell us that skipping breakfast does hinder learning and academic performance.

Whether your breakfast of choice is whole-grain toast or cereal, these common breakfast foods supply carbohydrate which turns into glucose. Glucose is the only energy source for brain cells which is what you need after a night of fasting. Glucose is also used to make acetylcholine – a chemical in the brain which enhances memory.

Some breakfasts might be better than others at boosting memory and learning. These are foods that are digested slowly and lead to a slow release of glucose. These are referred to as ‘low glycemic’ foods. Some good old standbys include oatmeal (the large flake or steel-cut varieties), low-fat (1 per cent) milk, whole-grain breads, whole citrus fruit and berries.

Eggs are also a great breakfast choice for kids. Eggs supply protein which can keep kids feeling satiated in the morning. Eggs also provide chorine, a nutrient in the B vitamin family, which is very important for brain function, learning, and memory. Our bodies make a little choline every day but you do need some from the diet. Egg yolks and nuts are a great source! If you child doesn’t like eating eggs, try French toast.

If you can find the omega-3 eggs fortified with DHA choose this kind as your egg source. DHA is very important for brain function. We normally find it in oily fish like salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines. These days you can find omega-3 enriched milk, cheese, even citrus juices. You might even want to consider a daily fish oil supplement. Studies show that kids that take a fish oil supplement daily do better with respect to arithmetic, reading and concentration.

Eating on the run? Try any of the following for breakfast on the go:

  1. 1 tablespoon of nut butter spread on a whole-wheat tortilla and then wrap around a small banana
  2. In a zip bag add a 1-cup measure of homemade trail mix (shredded wheat, Cheerios, raisins, dried cranberries, and nuts,. plus a yogurt for calcium.
  3. 6-oz low-fat yogurt cup, a piece of fruit, and a low-fat granola bar, like Nature’s Path granola bar or crispy rice bar
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