Breakfast fuels the body with nutrients. Eating breakfast provides your child higher intakes of vitamins A and C, riboflavin, calcium, zinc and iron. Your child might not make up the nutrients missed at breakfast. In addition, breakfast provides food energy for an active morning.
Breakfast helps get your child ready to learn. Kids learn better if they eat breakfast. Breakfast can help with better test scores and school attendance, and it helps lower tardiness rates. If you eat breakfast, you might get more done in the morning, too. Ask your child's teacher if the school has a breakfast program. If so, have your child take advantage of this program. Breakfast is offered to all children (and at a free or discounted rate for those who qualify).
Breakfast helps keep a healthy body weight. Breakfast helps control the urge to nibble or eat too big a lunch. Regularly eating breakfast can decrease the risk of being overweight, and help to lower cholesterol levels. Even with breakfast, young children might need a morning snack.
Breakfast helps your child feel good. Children might get morning tummy aches if they miss breakfast. These aches are usually hunger pangs. Breakfast helps your child have better memory and a better mood.
If you are too time-crunched in the morning to get a healthy start, try some of these fast fixes. You could get everything ready the night before. You can take breakfast along for the ride as you or the children head out the door.
- Whole-wheat bread, toast, bagel or tortilla, spread with peanut butter or cheese and an apple
- Ready-to-eat cereal in a bag, a cup of milk and a banana
- Grits topped with cheese, and a cup of tomato juice
- Oatmeal with milk and canned peaches
- Toasted frozen waffle with peanut butter and applesauce
- Rice and beans with a piece of fruit
- Yogurt mixed with small bits of fruit and ready-to-eat cereal
- Leftover cooked rice, a hard-boiled egg and baby carrots
- Scrambled egg and cheese wrapped in a tortilla
Make a breakfast fruit shake with 1/2 cup cut-up fruit, 1/2 cup lowfat yogurt, 1/2 cup lowfat milk and 1/2 cup ice whirled in a blender and served in a "to-go" cup.
Encourage your child to drink milk, juice or both with any of these fast-fix breakfast ideas.
Find more fast and easy breakfast ideas at www.incredibleegg.org or RecipeFinder.nal.usda.gov.
If there is a picky eater in your family, offer two or three food choices to help the child feel more in control. A nice way to start the day together is to have your children help with breakfast when you are not in a rush. Kids are more likely to eat breakfast when they see adults eating breakfast.
So set a good example — everyone will benefit.
Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Extension in Washington County.