Archived Story

Healthful breakfast helps make bodies healthy

Published 5:53pm Saturday, January 4, 2014

Have you heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day? That is correct.

Here is why and some ideas on how to get your family’s day, even those time-crunched ones, started with a healthful breakfast.

Why is a healthful breakfast is important for your child?

Numerous benefits exist for children who eat breakfast.  Studies show children have higher reading and math scores, do better in school overall, have better classroom behavior and better attendance than those who don’t. They also have better memory, concentration, and alertness. Children can focus on school and not a growling stomach. Children who eat breakfast also report fewer headaches and stomachaches. Eating a healthful breakfast gets your child started with important vitamins and nutrients that help give them energy for the day, and children who eat breakfast are more likely to be physically active. And if you aren’t convinced yet, in addition to the these benefits, breakfast starts up their metabolism for the day, makes them less likely to snack, reduces the risk of diseases and helps them achieve and maintain a healthful weight.

Why is a healthful breakfast is important for adults?

First of all, I must clarify a misperception. Skipping breakfast does not help you lose weight. Skipping breakfast increases the insulin response, which increases fat storage. Think of it like your body is worried you aren’t going to eat again for a long time so it stores the food, versus burning it off. Furthermore, those who skip breakfast tend to be less able to resist high-calorie tempting snacks the rest of the day. Eating breakfast actually helps a person reach a healthier weight and then maintain it.

In addition to helping control weight, those who eat breakfast are more likely to eat more vitamins and minerals and less fat and cholesterol. They have lower cholesterol overall, which can reduce the risk of heart disease. Breakfast eaters have increased productivity throughout the morning, are better able to concentrate, and have increased energy throughout the day.

Solving barriers to eating breakfast

Here are a couple common barriers and how to overcome them.

Not hungry: Your body has to get used to eating in the mornings; start with something small, and soon you will be hungry because your metabolism will be kicking in. Also, eating too much the night before can contribute to lack of hunger. Try decreasing night-time snacking or dinner portions.

No time: Plan the night before for the morning. If cereal is breakfast, set out the bowl and box, or mix up the pancake mix and set out the pan. Actually making the pancakes or sandwich the night before to have in the morning also can work well. In addition, keep some quick options around, such as those listed below, to grab before running out the door.

Choose foods from two or three food groups to help increase satiety and give fuel for the day. Having a breakfast high in sugar, such as donuts or toaster pastries, will spike blood sugar and make it more likely that you or your child will be craving sweets before lunch. Granola or cereal bars can work but need another food group to go with them, such a glass of low-fat milk or a yogurt. Look for bars that have at least 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams of sugar or less. And remember, non-traditional breakfast foods can work, too.

Try these 10 quick, healthful breakfast ideas:

• Egg in a mug: break an egg in a mug, add a dash of milk, beat, and microwave on high 45 seconds, stir and then microwave for about 30 to 45 seconds more until egg is set. Sprinkle with cheese or add a piece of whole-wheat toast.

• Yogurt and fruit: add some nuts or cereal for a breakfast parfait.

• Piece of turkey wrapped around string cheese.

• Cup of cereal: pour cereal in a drinking cup, add low-fat milk, and go.

• A hard-boiled egg and a piece of fruit.

• Peanut butter and banana wrapped in a whole-wheat tortilla.

• Oatmeal topped with nuts and fruit.

• Smoothie blended with milk or yogurt and fruit.

• Whole-wheat crackers with peanut butter or low-fat cheese.

• Trail mix (nuts, dried cereal, dried fruit and low-fat popcorn or pretzels, if desired). Keep in baggies in the cupboard for those last-minute days.

Andrea Nikolai is a registered dietitian at Washington Pediatrics and can be reached by calling 946-4134.


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