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Rise and dine! The importance of breakfast for kids

  • After going without food for 8 to 10 hours during sleep, breakfast gives your child’s body the fuel it needs for the day.
  • Kids who eat breakfast tend to eat healthier overall, are more likely to participate in physical activities, and to maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Eating breakfast helps a child’s attention span, concentration and memory—all important for learning in school.

Breakfast really is the “most important meal of the day.” Kids who eat breakfast tend to eat healthier overall, get more physical activity, and maintain a healthy body weight. Helping kids build healthful eating habits, including eating a nutritious breakfast, can build a foundation of eating right. But, making sure you have a good breakfast every day is a challenge. So, why is breakfast important and how can you make it easier on the whole family?

Why is breakfast important for kids?

Eating breakfast is important for everyone, but especially for children and teens. After going without food for 8 to 10 hours during sleep, breakfast gives our bodies the fuel it needs for the day. Eating breakfast helps jump start metabolism for the day. Kids who don’t eat breakfast will tend to feel an energy drain by mid-morning.

In general, kids who skip breakfast will feel tired, restless and irritable. Eating a healthful breakfast has been shown to help attention span, concentration and memory—all important for learning. Eating a good breakfast also helps kids:

  • be more active
  • be more creative
  • have better hand-eye coordination
  • have better problem-solving skills
  • meet daily nutritional requirements
  • miss fewer days of school

Healthy breakfast tips

What kids eat for breakfast is important. Choose breakfast foods that:

  • include fiber and protein (peanut butter, whole wheat or corn tortillas, egg bakes)
  • contain low-fat dairy (milk, Greek yogurt and smoothies)
  • are rich in carbohydrates (fresh or frozen fruit)
  • are low in added sugar (fortified whole grain cereals and waffles)

Tips for busy families to solve the breakfast conundrum

  • Get up 10 to 15 minutes early.
  • Prep for the week or the night before whenever possible:
    • chop fruits and veggies
    • make slow cooker oatmeal, a veggie egg bake or breakfast muffins
    • set out cooking ingredients and utensils
    • fill portion-size bags of trail mix or cereal
  • Stock your pantry and have plenty grab and go items such as:
    • fresh or cut up fruit yogurt cups and smoothies
    • hard boiled eggs
    • whole grain and low sugar cereals and waffles
  • Sign up your child up for your school’s breakfast program.

What to do when your kid just isn’t hungry at breakfast?

Some people are simply not breakfast lovers. If your child refuses to eat a full breakfast, eating at least something healthy is better than nothing at all. Pack something quick and easy to eat or drink! If your child’s appetite is low, it's generally easier to drink something with a straw than it is to chew and swallow something. Try low-sugar yogurt drinks, smoothies, kid-friendly protein shakes (Carnation Breakfast Essentials® with low-fat milk), or go-gurts or fruit pouches.

Get the jump start you need to operate at your best throughout the day. Make breakfast a part of your family’s regular routine.

Use our Health Powered Kids lessons, “Hungry for Breakfast” and “Breakfast Power” activities and Power Chargers as guides to talk to your children about the importance of breakfast.

 

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