Breakfast - The Most Important Meal of the Day
The word “breakfast” really does mean “break the fast”. By the time we wake up in the morning, most of us have gone 8-12 hours without food. During the night, our brain uses our body's stores for energy. Eating a balanced breakfast in the morning will help replenish these stores and give the brain the energy it needs to work properly.
A healthy breakfast gives children the nutrients they need to grow, learn and concentrate in school. When breakfast is skipped, the energy stores that the body used during the night aren't replenished. This can lead to drop in energy mid-morning, which makes it hard for children and adults to concentrate and learn at school or work. Children and adults who skip breakfast are also more likely to be irritable and to have poor performance.
Many people are not interested or able to eat as soon as they wake up. Children and adults should try to eat something for breakfast within an hour of waking. If it is not possible to eat all of a balanced breakfast right away, break it up. Eat a piece of fruit soon after waking, and then have yogurt and cereal a little while later.
So, what's for breakfast?
A nutritious breakfast includes foods from at least 3 of the 4 foods groups – Vegetables and Fruit, Grain Products, Milk and Alternatives, and Meat and Alternatives.
Get creative with breakfast, any food can be a breakfast food. Many children and adults do not like the “typical” breakfast foods, like cereal, fruit, muffin, pancakes, toast, etc. Some people like a sandwich, salad, casserole, or stir fry first thing in the morning. A stir fry can have 3 of the 4 food groups; noodles or rice, vegetables, and meat.
Here are some quick and easy breakfast ideas:
- Half a whole grain bagel toasted with cheese and tomato
- A smoothie with yogurt, berries and milk, and a handful of trail mix
- Scrambled eggs, salsa and cheese wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla with an apple
- Homemade pizza with whole grain crust, pizza sauce, vegetables and chicken
- Leftover quinoa topped with sliced bananas and walnuts
- Homemade muffin with yogurt and an orange
Try to limit foods like sugary cereals, which are low in nutrients and don't help children stay full for very long.
Tips for the Morning Rush
Mornings can be hectic trying to get everyone out the door on time. Try these tips to beat the mornings rush and save more time for breakfast:
- Finish homework and pack backpacks the night before
- Make and refrigerate lunches the night before
- Have kids set the table for breakfast after dinner
- Stock up on quick and easy-to-grab items for breakfast like fruit, whole grain breads and cereals, yogurt and cereal bars