Eat Well to Be Well: Jump start students’ school day with breakfast – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Eat Well to Be Well: Jump start students’ school day with breakfast

Easy and healthy Breakfast Wraps are a quick way to to give your child a morning boost of learning ability. (Recipe below.)



What’s one way to spell success for your child in school? B-R-E-A-K-F-A-S-T! No doubt, you’ve heard this message before; breakfast is the most important meal of the day. No matter their age (kindergartner to senior) or location (at home or at school), breakfast needs to be a priority with no excuses.

The word “breakfast” literally means “breaking the fast” of having gone without eating since the previous day. Your body is like a machine. It needs energy to help it move and think. Food is what gives us that energy. When you skip breakfast, it’s similar to not charging your cellphone battery. The battery dies and the phone runs out of energy. When your child heads off to school without eating breakfast, they won’t have the energy they need to perform at their best, both academically and physically. Various research studies have demonstrated why your child will likely have better academic performance when they regularly eat breakfast:

  • Eating breakfast helps improve reading, math and standardized test scores.
  • Students who eat breakfast have longer attention spans, are better at problem-solving tasks, and have better memory skills.
  • Eating breakfast results in fewer absences and incidents of tardiness.
  • Breakfast eaters have better behavior in school and improved socialization with other students.
  • Students show improved motivation and have fewer disciplinary problems.

Other studies have shown the benefit of eating breakfast in enhancing a student’s dietary health:

  • Students who eat breakfast on a regular basis get more of important nutrients, vitamins and minerals such as calcium, fiber, folate, vitamin C and protein.
  • Children who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight. Consuming breakfast reduces hunger later in the day. In addition, when breakfast is skipped, it can increase the body’s insulin response increasing fat storage and weight gain.
  • The rate of illness at school decreases due to the positive impact of breakfast on nutritional status resulting in improved school attendance.
  • Regularly eating breakfast as a child establishes healthy habits later in life.

“Now’s the time to throw out excuses …”

With so many benefits to eating breakfast, why wouldn’t you make sure your child is consuming the most important meal of the day? One word – excuses. Excuses range from “I’m not hungry in the morning” to “I’m too tired” to the number one excuse of “There’s no time to fix breakfast.”

Now’s the time to throw out excuses and get your child or teen back on track to eating a nourishing breakfast. Here are three simple suggestions from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on how to make this happen:

  1. Get organized the night before. Set out bowls and spoons for cereal. Get out a pan for pancakes or a blender for smoothies.
  2. Keep breakfast simple. Eat a quick bowl of whole-grain cereal with fruit or a slice of leftover pizza with 100 percent juice or yogurt with walnuts and fruit added.
  3. No time to eat at home? No problem. Pack your breakfast to go. This is great for busy teens as they can grab a banana, a bag of trail mix and a carton of milk.

Another suggestion to encourage breakfast consumption is to role model – eating breakfast yourself. If you’re not eating breakfast, there’s a good chance your child won’t either.

When planning breakfast, think protein, calcium and fiber. Numerous studies show that consuming protein at breakfast reduces feelings of hunger and increases fullness right away. Combining a protein source along with a good fiber source, doubly creates a satiety sensation that lasts hours after eating breakfast. Calcium is a key nutrient for building strong bones and teeth in children along with also providing protein.

Some suggestions for breakfasts that meet this:

  • 1 cup of high fiber cereal (at least 5 grams per serving) with skim milk and a fruit of your choice.
  • 1 whole egg plus 2 egg whites, scrambled with diced peppers and tomatoes, 2 slices of whole wheat toast with 100% fruit jam and 1 cup of skim milk.
  • 6 oz. of Greek yogurt (any flavor) with 1 Tbsp. chopped walnuts.

There are many ways to help your child be successful in school. Begin with breakfast. Don’t leave home without eating it – every day!

Here are a couple of recipes to get your child off to the right start each morning. The first is courtesy of the National Dairy Council and contains 21 g of protein, 10 g of fiber, 250 mg of calcium and 261 calories.

Breakfast Wrap – Makes 4 servings

  • 6 eggs
  • ½ cup salsa
  • 1 cup Cheddar cheese
  • 4 (8-inch) whole-wheat flour tortillas

Scramble eggs; combine scrambled eggs, salsa and cheese in a large bowl to blend. Place one-fourth egg mixture down the center of each tortilla. Fold tortillas closed. Place 1 filled tortilla on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high power for 30 to 40 seconds or until hot and cheese is melted.

The second recipe is from “Dairy Makes Sense” and contains 10 g protein, 1 g fiber, 300 mg of calcium and 260 calories.

Frosty Orange Banana Sipper – Makes 1 serving

  • 1 banana, peeled, chunked and frozen
  • 3-ounces frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 cup low-fat milk (set in freezer 30 minutes before using)
  • 1 6-ounce container low-fat vanilla yogurt

Combine all ingredients in a blender; blend until smooth and creamy.

Cheryl_Mussatto_pictureCheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian who works as an adjunct professor at Allen Community College, where she teaches a course called Basic Nutrition. She is also a certified health and wellness coach. She writes Eat Well to Be Well, a column about health and nutrition, and may be contacted at [email protected].

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