Breakfast: Good or Bad?

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Courtney Shanley, Junior Contributor

There has been a lifelong struggle between children and parents on whether eating breakfast in the morning before school is necessary. Kids who fuel up in the morning with a breakfast high in carbohydrates and protein before heading off to school gain many benefits, both mental and physical. These benefits not only last throughout the school day, but also can contribute to overall health and school performance over the long term. According to the Healthy Children website, about 8 to 12 percent of school-age children skip breakfast entirely, and among children, this rate is even higher, reaching up to 30 percent.

Brain Benefits

Kids who eat breakfast have better concentration during school hours than kids who skip the morning meal. Eating breakfast every day can even improve your mental performance and math scores. Doctors have come to the conclusion that children who eat breakfast also participate more in class discussions are better able to handle complex problems in class and get better grades. In particular, a breakfast meal containing a balance of protein and complex carbohydrates boosts school performance for the remainder of the day.

Physical Benefits

One major physical benefit of breakfast that can help school performance is the increase in energy that comes from eating carbs and protein in the morning. Energy provided by breakfast carbs allows children to fully participate in physical activity at school, including physical education, or P.E. classes; recess; and extracurricular activities. Kids who eat breakfast are typically in better health overall as well.

Healthy Breakfast Ideas

For a breakfast to be healthy, it should include some nutritious components. High-sugar cereals and breakfast bars are more likely to induce a blood sugar crash later in the day than they are to boost performance in class. Instead, children should eat whole grains such as oatmeal, whole wheat toast or whole-grain cereals to provide carbohydrates. Eggs, lean meat or tofu can provide protein. Adding vegetables or fruit, including 100 percent fruit juices, can supply vital nutrients. High-calcium foods such as milk or yogurt also boost school performance.

Getting Prepared

Going to bed earlier can make breakfast more likely for kids and teens. Preparing breakfast the night before or choosing healthy ready-to-eat options, such as nutritious breakfast bars, is another option that can cut down on time in the morning and make it less likely that kids will head out the door without eating something.