Breakfast Fuels Kids for School
Moms, don't send your young scholars off to school on last night's dinner. Lunch is a long time off, and they'll have a hard time keeping up with their breakfast-eating buddies.
Youngsters who eat breakfast before their morning classes are more alert, says registered dietitian Judy Barbe, nutrition program director for Western Dairy Association.
Studies show breakfast-eaters concentrate better. Their problem-solving skills are sharper. Memories are keener and they do better on tests. They are tardy less often, attend school more regularly, make fewer trips to the nurse's office, and are less likely to be out of sorts.
If the morning rush makes breakfast at home too much of a hassle, or if young tummies take a while to wake up and rumble, your school likely offers breakfast. And if it doesn't, it's worthwhile to set alarm clocks half an hour earlier for quick and easy breakfasts at home - or brown-bagged breakfast in the car.
Along with having a better day at school, breakfast-eaters are better nourished overall, Barbe says. Breakfast-skippers of all ages are not likely to catch up on the nutrients they miss by not eating a morning meal. Most breakfasts include several of the "food groups to encourage" identified in the U.S. 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans - whole grains, fat-free and low-fat milk products, fruits and vegetables. Because these food groups contain fiber and vitamins and minerals short in the American diet, eating breakfast regularly helps prevent certain chronic diseases.
Children and adolescents who eat breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy weight. Several studies show that breakfast skippers have higher Body Mass Indexes (BMI - a measurement of body fat based on height and weight) and are at higher risk for obesity.
What's true for the kids is also true for Mom and Dad. Adult breakfast-skippers are at greater risk for obesity and weight gain. A growing body of research links consumption of low-fat dairy foods to lower BMIs. Women tend to weigh an average of 18 pounds less for every 1,000 mg. of calcium they consume. The National Weight Control Registry reports that almost eight in 10 adults who maintain a 30-pound weight loss for at least a year eat breakfast every day. Breakfast-skippers tend to have higher blood cholesterol levels, probably because they fill up later in the day on foods containing more fat and less fiber.
Oatmeal may help reduce cholesterol; the fiber in other whole-grain cereals and breads may reduce heart disease. Breakfasts that regularly include fat-free or low-fat milk and yogurt, fruit or 100 percent fruit juices and whole grain cereals can help control blood pressure and reduce LDL (low-density lipoprotein, the type of cholesterol you want reduced) cholesterol levels.
Barbe says that traditional whole-grain cereal, milk and orange juice serve you well, but it is only one of many ways to enjoy a good breakfast. Among her many ideas are these.
· Whole wheat toast topped with peanut butter and sliced bananas
· Crunchy high-fiber cereal, blueberries and sunflower seeds swirled into low-fat or fat-free vanilla yogurt
· Whole wheat tortilla wrapped around a low-fat cheese stick plus a bunch of grapes
· Toasted frozen whole-grain waffle piled with sliced strawberries, a dollop of low-fat or fat-free yogurt and a sprinkling of sliced almonds
· An oatmeal-apple muffin and a single-serve bottle of low-fat chocolate milk
· Whole-grain cereal bar, fat-free yogurt cup, and a pear
· Hard-cooked egg, whole-wheat bread sticks and single serve can of reduced-sodium tomato juice
· Bran muffin, pink grapefruit cup, and a low-fat latte
· Leftover veggie pizza with a peach
A non-profit nutrition education organization, Western Dairy Association serves as a nutrition education resource to health professionals, educators and the media in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming.
Western Dairy Association
12000 Washington Street, Suite 175
Thornton, Colorado 80241
Please visit us at: www.westerndairyassociation.org