Today’s post comes from Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD. Cochran is a nutrition communications consultant, appearing regularly in national and local media to discuss nutrition topics. Cochran is a long-standing nutrition contributor for Woman’s World Magazine, as well as a member of ENC’s Health Professional Advisor panel.
School’s out for the summer, so what better time to teach children the importance of good nutrition and prepare them for a great school year? Breakfast, in particular, plays a key role in keeping kids fit for school. Here are my four BEST reasons for kicking off every day with breakfast.
B – Brainpower. The brain requires glucose to function properly so including carbohydrate-rich foods at breakfast will supply the fuel it needs. Great choices include fruit, whole grain bread and cereal, milk or yogurt. A number of studies have shown that eating breakfast improves cognitive ability, memory, attention span and academic performance in children. For instance, research at Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center found children who ate breakfast had significantly more correct answers on math problems than those who skipped it.
E – Energy. Not only does the brain need energy to function, but the body does too. A recent Swiss study showed kids who ate breakfast almost daily had better motor skills. Both carbohydrate and protein play a role in physical fitness. Carbohydrates fuel the muscles while protein helps maintain, build and repair them. Eggs are an excellent source of high quality protein and 13 other essential vitamins and minerals that promote growth and health in kids. Scramble an egg in the microwave and layer on an English muffin with a slice of low fat cheese for a quick, protein-packed breakfast.
S – Satiety. Eating breakfast keeps you feeling full and satisfied so that you don’t have an energy dip mid-morning when hunger pangs can set in. In a just-released study, participants had greater satiety, less hunger and ate less the rest of the day after an egg breakfast vs. a cereal or croissant meal. Scrambling eggs with veggies and pairing with whole-grain toast provides both protein and fiber. Or mix Greek yogurt with berries and a high-fiber cereal for another high protein and fiber meal.
T- Taste. Taste is the primary factor that most people consider when choosing the foods that they buy and eat. Creating great tasting meals, that are also nutrient-rich, makes eating them a win-win proposition. To help children make good choices, get them involved in the planning, purchasing and preparing of meals. Summer is a perfect time to do this activity. For recipes, articles, videos and ideas for fun and healthy eating for children, check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Kids Eat Right website. The Incredible Egg website has Kid-Friendly recipes, too.