We’re all familiar with the saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” – and there’s certainly a lot of truth behind it. Breakfast literally means ‘break the fast’, as most people won’t have eaten for at least eight to 10 hours. For children, who eat their dinner earlier in the evening, this fast can be even longer. Therefore, breakfast is crucial to replenish depleted energy stores, get your metabolism going and kick start your day.
If your child is hungry, they are more likely to be tired, moody and irritable at school. He or she will also find it harder to concentrate at a time when they are learning lots of new things.
Breakfast is a great way to give the body the refueling it needs. Kids who eat breakfast tend to eat healthier overall and are more likely to participate in physical activities — two great ways to help maintain a healthy weight.
Skipping breakfast can make kids feel tired, restless, or irritable. In the morning, their bodies need to refuel for the day ahead after going without food for 8 to 12 hours during sleep. Their mood and energy can drop by midmorning if they don’t eat at least a small morning meal.
Breakfast also can help keep kids’ weight in check. Breakfast kick-starts the body’s metabolism, the process by which the body converts the fuel in food to energy. And when the metabolism gets moving, the body starts burning calories.
WHAT TO GIVE YOUR CHILD AS A BREAKFAST-
It’s important for kids to have breakfast every day, but what they eat in the morning is crucial too. Choosing breakfast foods that are rich in whole grains, fiber, and protein while low in added sugar may boost kids’ attention span, concentration, and memory — which they need to learn in school.
It’s good to base breakfast on starchy foods, such as bread or breakfast cereals,but like any other meal, breakfast should be balanced. Try to include one serving of fruit. A small glass of fruit juice counts as one, so does a sprinkle of sliced fruit over cereal.
Try to serve a balanced breakfast that includes some carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. Carbs are a good source of immediate energy for the body. Energy from protein tends to kick in after the carbs are used up. Fiber helps provide a feeling of fullness and, therefore, discourages overeating. And when combined with adequate liquid consumption, fiber helps move food through the digestive system, preventing constipation and lowering cholesterol.
Good sources of these nutrients include:
carbohydrates: whole-grain cereals, brown rice, whole-grain breads and muffins, fruits, vegetables
protein: low-fat or nonfat dairy products, lean meats, eggs, nuts (including nut butters), seeds, and cooked dried beans
fiber: whole-grain breads, waffles, and cereals; brown rice, bran, and other grains; fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts.
Minimise distractions (such as turning off the TV) and have a variety of breakfast foods to avoid boredom. Set an example and sit down with your children to eat breakfast – it’s also a great time to chat to your child before they head off to school.”
AND WHAT NOT TO GIVE-
Don’t be tempted to allow your children chocolate, sweets or fizzy drinks before school. Not only are these bad for their health, but they will make your child’s blood sugar levels peak very quickly, before dropping just as fast, leaving him or her lacking energy and feeling irritable. Porridge, wholemeal toast and cereal all release energy slowly, and will keep your child going until lunchtime.