Help kick-start the school day
Ask any teacher the difference a sensible breakfast can make to kids at school and they’ll most likely tell you it improves behaviour and generally makes them more receptive and less disruptive.
Breakfast, as the word suggests, literally means ‘breaking the fast’. After going 10-12 hours overnight without food, children’s energy reserves are low and their bodies, and perhaps more importantly their brains, need fuel.
Research shows there are a number of reasons to eat breakfast. Compared to those that skip breakfast, kids who eat breakfast are more likely to:
- have improved concentration and short-term memory
- be more focussed
- maintain a healthy weight.
It’s not surprising then that nutritionists consider breakfast the most important meal of the day. Yet many schoolchildren are still going without it for one reason or another.
The building blocks of a good breakfast
Like any other meal, a balanced breakfast should include a variety of foods, be low in saturated fat and provide carbohydrates for brain fuel as well as vitamins and minerals.
Ideally you should be looking to get your kids to eat around 20% of their daily calories at the breakfast table.
Eating a good breakfast helps give kids a great start to their school day, but how do we get them to eat if they’re ‘not hungry’, ‘running late’ or ‘can’t make up their mind’? Try some of these suggestions:
- Wholegrain toast with baked beans, a small glass of milk and a piece of fruit.
- High-fibre cereal topped with fresh or tinned fruit slices, dried fruit or nuts for some variety.
- A wholegrain toasted sandwich: cheese and tomato or banana which, at a pinch, she can eat on the way to school.
- Raisin toast with a fruit smoothie (reduced-fat milk, yoghurt and fruit blended with ice).
Breakfast on the run
If your child really does have to leave the house four minutes after she’s rolled out of bed, toss her a wholegrain cereal bar and a small fruit juice, a tub of low-fat yoghurt and a banana, or a bag of cereal mixed with trail mix. She can eat these on the run and still arrive at school fuelled up.
This article was supplied by the team of nutritionists at Kellogg Nutrition for Kidspot, New Zealand’s leading education resource for parents.