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  • Writer's picturechildrens wellness center

Why Breakfast is So Important and How to Encourage Your Kids to Eat a Healthy Morning Meal

You probably have already heard that breakfast is the "most important meal of the day." Breakfast does indeed provide energy to start the day, especially after a night of fasting. It helps children focus in school, perform physical activities like sports, and maintain a healthy weight. Breakfast also boosts memory and brain function, and can lower the risk of metabolic conditions such as diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Unfortunately, despite these benefits, many kids skip the morning meal, often due to being in a rush to go to school. 

While missing the occasional breakfast is not unusual, it should not become an everyday habit. Usually, kids find they don't have time for breakfast when they're rushing to get ready for school because they did not wake up early enough. Instead, they choose to snooze in the morning for extra time of sleep. Thus, it's important that kids go to bed on time to get a sufficient amount of rest that will make it easier for them to get up in time for breakfast. This can be particularly challenging for adolescents, whose circadian rhythm (the body's internal clock) delays their sleep cycle. There are still multiple ways to encourage an early bed time, however, including avoiding electronic devices within an hour of sleep, exercising, relaxing, and making going to bed at the same time each day a habit. 

In addition to getting up on time, it is also beneficial to eat breakfast together as a family when possible. Kids are less likely to skip breakfast when the whole family is eating together. You would also be serving as a role model for your children. If your family does find that they do not have much time to eat in the morning, there are various ways around this. To begin with, preparing breakfast the night before can reduce the time in the morning. There are also quick and simple to put together foods that you can provide your children. For example, cereals, oatmeal, and toast with peanut butter do not require much time to prepare. Furthermore, when your kid doesn't wake up early or are in a rush to go to school, it is still better to hand them a breakfast snack that they can carry with them on the go or something that doesn't take too long to eat, such as energy bars, fruit, nuts, yogurt, or a bagel.

Not only is it important to eat breakfast, but it is also important to eat a healthy morning meal that provides a balance of nutrients vital to your children's growth and development. The ideal breakfast should be high in protein and contain essential vitamins and minerals. It should also be made from whole foods that will sustain your child for several hours and provide them with fiber, which is especially important for controlling blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and bowel movements. If your child is eating something made from flour such as bread, pancakes, waffles, or muffins, or they're eating cereal, select products made from whole grains instead of processed and refined white flour. Whole grains also provide protein, in addition to eggs, yogurt, cheese, meat, nut butters, and seeds. To ensure that your child is getting enough vitamins, consider adding fruit to their morning meal.  

If you have any concerns or questions about your child's diet, weight, or sleep pattern, contact our office to speak with one of our pediatricians. 

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