Top 5 Reasons Breakfast Is a Must for Kids
March 12, 2007 12:01am CST
How many times have you heard, "breakfast is the most important meal of the day"? Here's why, in terms of small-fry. Kids who eat breakfast: 1. Do better in school 2. Have more focus and concentration, more energy, and better eye-hand coordination 3. Have fewer behavioral problems 4. Are more likely to meet their nutritional needs overall 5. Have an easier time staying at a healthy weight "Mornings can be hectic in any family, and getting kids-much less adults-to eat something can be a challenge. But just look at the payoffs!" says pediatrician Jennifer Trachtenberg, MD, mom of three and proud author of her first book, the new, super-useful Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children. "So if you can't make the morning meal happen at home, send kids off with healthy on-the-go breakfasts to eat on the way," says Dr. Jen. "The night before, have them help you fill plastic zipper bags with things like nuts, raisins, and Os cereal; orange slices; low-fat granola; cheese and crackers; sliced apple ?sandwich cookies' filled with peanut butter...or anything else reasonably healthy that you know they'll eat, whether it's ?breakfast food' or not. A chicken sandwich on whole wheat? Fine." Just aim for three things: Plenty of fiber and protein - it will keep kids full and energized until lunch. Minimal sugar - too much can send their energy soaring up, then crashing down before the morning's half over. Some healthy fat, especially the kind called omega-3s - turns out that kids who eat more of them do better on short-term memory tests (and ace pop quizzes!) than kids who eat more saturated fat (think butter, bacon, sausage, pastries, full-fat milk and cheese). One easy way to get good omega-3 fats into your kids: sprinkle walnuts or almonds on their cereal. Another: Hard-boil a batch of omega-3-enriched eggs, which are widely available now. On a high-speed morning, give the kids (yourself too) an egg and some whole-wheat crackers in a plastic zipper bag. You'll all be good to go till lunch.