Breakfast choices should be more than cereal
Published 6:15 am Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Breakfast is more than just a few minutes of cereal and coffee. It's breaking the fast from the night before. It's the most important meal of the day and it can put youngsters on track for academic success and a healthier lifestyle.
A 2003 study done by Helsinki University in Finland found that smoking, infrequent exercise, a low level of education, frequent alcohol use and a high body mass index were all associated with skipping breakfast. That's a powerful statement about the “good things” that this single meal can do for you.
Some county schools have a school breakfast program. For other students, the decision to skip breakfast is often done because they want to catch a few more winks in the morning.
Students and parents may be sacrificing one of the most important tools for better work performance by skipping the few minutes it takes to eat a bowl of cereal or a little something in the morning,
Earlier studies have shown that recharging the brain can help hand-eye coordination, attention spans and comprehension. Your brain (and central nervous system) runs on glucose - that's the fuel you need to think, walk, talk, and carry on any and all activities. Let's say that the last time you eat something at night is at 10 or 11 PM (not optimal, just an example). The following day, you don't eat breakfast but wait until about noon or so to eat - you've gone thirteen or fourteen hours with nothing in your system. Your poor brain is surely deprived - and your body has to work extra hard to break down any stored carbohydrate or turn fat or protein into a usable form for your brain to function. That's a lot to ask of a child sitting in a classroom, trying to concentrate on reading, or doing any other work. Eating breakfast has been proven (many times) to improve concentration, problem solving ability, mental performance, memory, and mood. A student will certainly be at a disadvantage if their classmates have eaten breakfast and he/she has gone without. On average, they will think faster and clearer, and will have better recall than your child. School or work can be tough enough without this extra added pressure.
Smart choices for breakfast include whole grains, fruit and low-fat dairy products. The whole grains and fruit contain high amounts of fiber, which tend to fill you up faster and will delay symptoms of hunger for hours.
When choosing cereal, look for whole grains with 3 to 5 or more grams of fiber. Be sure sugar doesn't appear as one of the first three ingredients on the nutrition facts label. Sugar may be disguised as a word that ends in “-ose.” Some of the sugar-coated or frosted cereals may have as much as 2-3 teaspoons of sugar for a 1 ounce serving.
Old-fashion oatmeal is another high fiber choice, and with the variety of instant oatmeal available today, there is a flavor to please everyone on the market, plus it can be prepared in less than two minutes.
Enhance the healthiness in seconds with fresh fruit and milk. Even if fruit and oats don't appeal to children, start them on the breakfast habit with the tools at hand.
If your children want leftover pizza for breakfast, give in and let them have it. A traditional breakfast isn't always necessary, as long as it is nutritious and well balanced. The combinations are limited only by your creativity and imagination. Think out of the box for breakfast ideas, including ways you can save time in the morning.
Remember, breakfast not only starts your day off right, but also lays the foundation for lifelong health benefits. Try starting your day with some of these “nontraditional breakfast” ideas. Some of these ideas include foods that you can grab and go and eat in route to school or work.