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The Importance of Breakfast 

Many of us don’t have time for breakfast. Skipping breakfast can mean going for 16 hours or more without refueling. That’s like trying to drive a car with an empty tank of gas. According to the article, “Serve up the benefits of breakfast — every day”, by Laura Jana MD and Jennifer Shu MD, research shows that children who are breakfast-eaters may have a distinct advantage over breakfast-skippers, in the following ways: 

    * better brain power, particularly when it comes to memory
    * better test scores, school attendance, and mood
    * longer attention spans in school
    * better overall nutrition
    * healthier body weights, even for breakfast-eaters who end up eating more overall calories than those who routinely skip the first meal of the day  

Some breakfast tips;

Rely on routine. Studies show that if parents simply expect children to eat breakfast as a rule rather than an exception, it's more likely to become a habit for years to come. 

Plan ahead.  Remember to stock up, set out, and/or pack breakfast ahead of time. Make breakfast a self-serve meal for older kids — they are more likely to eat, and it builds independence. (Research shows that kids who help plan and prepare meals tend to eat those meals.)  Involve your child in the selection, shopping, preparation, and, as they get older, planning of the breakfast menus for the week. 

Try to provide a variety of food groups to include protein, carbohydrates and fiber. Don’t forget to add calcium. Calcium is found in milk, yogurt and cheese. Calcium rich foods also contain protein, which is vital in maintaining blood sugar. Although any breakfast is better than no breakfast at all, it should ideally be a nutritious one.

Breakfast ideas;

    * Easy breakfast burritos:  Roll up scrambled eggs and some shredded cheese in a warm tortilla.  Add milk and fruit for a complete breakfast. Even easier, sprinkle cheese on a tortilla, fold in half and microwave. You can take it to go.

    * Sausage sandwiches: Place a low-fat sausage patty in between two small pancakes. Serve with string cheese or a cup of skim milk. 

    * Mix 1 cup of low-fat plain or vanilla yogurt, 1/4 cup blueberries, and 1/4 cup cereal, such as Cheerios, for crunch (and fiber). Put in a cup and bring a spoon for eating on the road. 

    * Cereal sense: The trick to a healthy cereal diet is to become more discriminating about which cereals you select. So, focus on five. Read the label and aim for no more than 5 grams of sugar and at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. 

There are many foods that children can easily grab in a hurry: hard-boiled eggs, a cheesestick, sliced apples in a baggie, a bagel with low-fat cream cheese, a bran muffin, a piece of fruit, or cereal with dried fruit in a baggie. Preparing your own "packaged" food reduces the temptation to reach for the pre-packaged, sugary, and calorie- and fat-laden alternatives. 

Don’t forget water. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, dizziness, poor concentration andreduced cognitive abilities. According to experts, the internal environment ofthe brain is an integral part of learning, just as important as the classroom environment. By nourishing the brain with healthy food and water, you will optimize the internal environment, enabling students to truly engage in theclassroom environment and achieve their potential. (Taken from “Feeding the Brain for Academic Success: How Nutrition and Hydration Boost Learning”, written by Philippa Norman, M.D.).

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