What's For Breakfast?

By Ruchi Kaushik, MD, MPH, FAAP Little girl eating fruit

Do your school-aged children get a healthy start to every morning? Is your teen sleeping past the alarm and dashing out the door with an empty belly?

You have likely heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but why? Children who chow down on the first meal of the day have been found to have:

  • Better memory
  • Better test scores
  • Better attention span
  • Decreased irritability
  • Healthier body weights
  • Improved overall nutrition

But, oh my word, rushed mornings are tough! So how can you set them up for caloric success and make sure they slide into their seats before the bell?

  • Stick to a Routine: Plan your morning minutes to include enough time to sit and eat as a family so children do not feel rushed. This may mean setting the alarm 10-15 minutes earlier.
  • Dine and Dash: Although ideally pediatricians recommend that families share meal time together, we also realize this is not always possible. If time is limited, plan quick or grab-n-go meals such as cold cereal with fat-free or low-fat milk, bagels with reduced fat cream cheese, homemade muffins, fruit and yogurt, or hard-boiled eggs. Cereal bars and granola bars are also good options, but be sure to read labels and avoid excessive sugars and corn syrup. If you have time the night before, consider making your own granola. Teens should not use coffee or energy drinks to replace meals.
  • Sleep: Older children and teens often do not stick to a scheduled bedtime and will wake up cranky or too nauseous to eat. Stick to a routine and be sure to encourage sufficient sleep time in your home. For more information, keep your eye out for our sleep blog on World Sleep Day, March 15.
  • School Breakfast! March 4-8 is National School Breakfast Week and schools make it a point to craft healthy, nutrient-dense menus for your child. Plan for your child to have breakfast at school and they will always be on time!

If you need some quick and easy recipe ideas for breakfast, check out the CHEF program website.

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