Breakfast is vital for kids’ learning potential. Here’s how to get the day off to a healthy start
Mornings can get hectic. We’ve all been there, fighting for time in the bathroom, getting the kids ready for school, taking the dog outside and organising the day’s appointments. And if you’re short on time, or the little ones say they’re not hungry, it’s easy to let breakfast slip.
Breakfast is important for lots of reasons, but new research has highlighted just how important it is for children’s learning potential at school. The study found that children who skipped breakfast had low energy levels and difficulty concentrating. It also found that on average, three children in every classroom were arriving at school without breakfast, and for many of these students this happened more than three times a week.
“A healthy breakfast gives kids the right fuel to start the day, helping them to fully participate in class and achieve the best grades possible.”
Accredited Practising Dietitian Kate Di Prima, a spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, says skipping breakfast can make children feel lethargic and ‘fuzzy’ in the head. Because of this, the DAA encourages parents of school children to make breakfast a non-negotiable in the mornings.
“The brain requires energy in the form of glucose to function at its best throughout the day,” Kate explains.
“Nutritious breakfast foods such as grainy bread, breakfast cereals, fruit and milk provide healthy sources of glucose. A healthy breakfast gives kids the right fuel to start the day, helping them to fully participate in class and achieve the best grades possible.
“Breakfast should not be optional for school children. To put it simply, their growth and development depends on getting enough of the right nutrients – and without breakfast, they will really struggle to get their daily quota.”
Top brain-boosting breakfasts
The best breakfasts for growing children are high in fibre, low Glycaemic Index, and include protein, the DAA says. Here are five of their top suggestions for a healthy start:
1. Wholegrain cereal with reduced-fat milk, topped with fresh fruit.
2. Wholegrain toast (or if time is tight, a sandwich made the night before) with reduced-fat cheese, avocado and tomato, and a piece of fruit.
3. Wholemeal muffin or crumpet with baked beans and low-fat yoghurt.
4. Poached or scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast with a glass of reduced-fat milk.
5. A smoothie made from reduced-fat milk, fresh fruit and yoghurt.
Find an Accredited Practising Dietitian at daa.asn.au