With all the hoopla surrounding back to school lunch options, I’m thinking we should stop for a moment and talk about breakfast. Although lunch is important, oftentimes kids don’t even eat what you send in their backpacks (instead, they trade it for sweets or money or something not so healthy). That being the case, it’s super important to make sure they leave the house with their brains fueled for the day!
Study after study shows that kids learn, think, and behave better when they start the day off properly fueled. Indeed, this is the impetus behind the Federal School Breakfast Program. Not only important for the undernourished child, studies show eating breakfast improves performance on cognitive tasks for the nourished child, as well.
What’s most interesting is that what the kids eat really matters. Working with families, I’m stunned to learn what children and teens eat for breakfast. Many are running out the door with a sugar-laden granola bar and a soda, or worse, nothing at all.
Studies on attention and memory comparing breakfasts containing quick burning sugars with slower burning carbohydrates yield interesting results. With the slower burning carbs, the children showed a more sustained level of performance, concentration, and attention. Whereas with the quick burning carbs, the children performed well at first, but then experienced a subsequent low. Other studies show similar results — low-glycemic meals that release sugar slowly into the bloodstream are associated with better memory and concentration.
Food solutions for a smarter breakfast include:
- High fiber cereals with milk
- Whole Oats made with skim milk and chopped walnuts
- 100% whole wheat bagel or toast with peanut butter
- Kashi-type high fiber frozen waffles with peanut butter
- Egg sandwich on 100% whole wheat toast or bagel with skim milk
- Chobani Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh berries
What do you feed your kids for breakfast? It could make a big difference come report-card time!
Danielle Omar, MS, RD
The Food Confidence Expert