Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for children. For parents, it is an important topic as children head back to school. Many schools provide breakfasts, but not all school breakfasts are high in nutritional content. Parents should be aware of what types of breakfasts are healthy for children and to provide a good breakfast for their children every day.
Does your child eat a healthy breakfast every day?
Does she eat at home or at school
? What kind of breakfast does your child eat during the school week? Breakfast is the most important meal in the day for children. If they start the morning with a good breakfast, they are more alert, attentive, stronger both mentally and physically. Many children and teens
who don’t eat breakfast spend a good part of the day inattentive or dozing.
School on an empty stomach can result in poor behavior and lowered academic function, according to a study by Child Psychiatry Service at General Hospital, Boston. Children can become restless in class, tired and irritable without a good breakfast. Mood can be affected.
While some children and teens might feel that skipping breakfast will help them lose weight, it actually may contribute to weight gain. the body gets used to doing without breakfast, lowers its metabolism, and when the child does eat, less fat is burned off. If children and teens are aware of this, it can give them added incentive to eat breakfast every day. Additionally, a famished child is more likely to gorge himself at lunch. Eating breakfast can help a child to pace himself.
What type of breakfast does a child need?
Having a healthy breakfast is just as important as having breakfast. Breakfasts that consist of whole-grain foods, such as whole-wheat waffles, French toast made with whole wheat bread, eggs with whole wheat toast, fruit, unsweetened juice and milk, can give a child balanced energy through the day. Avoiding sugary box cereals is a good idea. The nutritional value in Poptarts, as an example, or the typical sugary breakfast cereal is minimal, despite what advertisers might lead us to believe. Oatmeal or whole grain cereal has much more nutritional value.
Foods which are high in sugar tend to be burned off quickly in the body, leaving little in the way of long-lasting energy. Too much in the way of sugar and refined carbohydrates can also contribute to obesity and diabetes. Whole grain foods are burned off more gradually in the body and are a better choice when considering breakfasts for children.
Coffee is probably not a good idea from most teens and children, it may give them a perceived kick start, but the body soon adjusts to it, and it can contribute to a more irritable child.
Many children are provided with breakfast and lunch in school. While you might assume that these breakfasts are healthy, and sometimes they are, in many cases, the breakfasts served at school are very low in nutritional value and/or very high in sugar content.
Sugary cereals may be a treat for kids, but children need nutritious breakfasts rather than breakfasts high in sugar, as is often served in public schools. photo: Jorge Barrios
The American Dietetic Association supports nutritional
integrity in schools, and encourages schools to provide high quality meals to children, including breakfast. Unfortunately, this might not always be the case for one reason or the other, so parents might want to be aware of what their children are having for breakfast at school, and if the nutritional value
is minimal, then it is sometimes better for parents to provide breakfast at home for their children.
Children's Nutrition, Breakfast and Depression
Nutrition is an important aspect of good mental health for adults and children. I can remember a fourth-grade student in school who couldn't concentrate before 12:00 PM, when lunch was finally served. She looked tired, drawn out and depressed; she seldom responded until the afternoon. However, she didn't eat breakfast at home, nor did she eat breakfast at school, as she was usually late to class. This was, apparently affecting her mood.
Another young teen
often times went without food all day, and only ate, on many days, late at night for a supper before she went to bed. She didn't like the school breakfasts or lunches and had no concept of the importance of nutrition
or good eating habits. Her mental health
was affected, and while she appeared and was, in fact, most times, depressed during the day, after she ate a nutritious meal her vitality revived and she was no longer depressed. This was true of another woman in her late 20s, who was depressed
and anxious when she didn't eat breakfast or lunch, but who felt much better after a nutritious meal.
Parents and guardians, then, should be all means monitor their children's eating habits and make sure that their children are eating consistently, and that they are being provided with good meals, both at home and at school.
Conclusion - Breakfast for Children
A good breakfast can make a difference in your children’s academic success, a child or teen's behavior
and in their developing healthy life-habits which can contribute to good health and mental stability. By all means make the effort to ensure that your child eats a balanced and healthy breakfast every morning.
References - Breakfast for Children
1. Bergman EA, Gordon RW, (August 2010). Position of the American Dietetic Association: local support for nutrition integrity in schools. Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
2. Breakfast Basics. Kids Health from Nemours. (Retrieved August 30, 2010). kidshealth.org.
3. Murphy JM, Wehler CA, Pagano ME, Little M, Kleinman RE, Jellinek MS, (February, 1998). Relationship between hunger and psychosocial functioning in low-income American children. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
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