It's not just eating breakfast, it's the quality of the breakfast that gives your children the best head start for the day.

Serve your kids a breakfast of champions

Boy Eating Cereal Breakfast

We all want our children to do well in school. There are probably many factors involved including getting a good night of sleep, having daily exercise and fresh air, staying hydrated and nutrition and diet.

A recent British study found that eating breakfast and the quality of the breakfast may be factors in educational outcomes of children.

This study included 5,000 kids between the ages 9-11 years. In those children who ate breakfast of mostly healthy foods, there were higher academic outcomes when tested six to 18 months later. On the other hand, just eating breakfast – any type of breakfast – did not contribute to improvement academically. The quality of the breakfast was a factor. One out of five children ate sweets and sweet pastries and it did not help them out.

 A balanced breakfast for active, growing children should include a foursome:

  1. Fruits and/or Vegetables 
  2. Protein – eggs, cheese, nut butters or nuts, yogurt, poultry, tofu, dried beans and peas
  3. Whole-grain starch – breads, flour or corn tortilla, muffins, cereal, potatoes, rice
  4. Beverage – water, milk, 100% fruit juice

When there is a mad dash and slight chaos on a school morning, it can be hard to also take the time to insure everyone eats breakfast. But school-wise, it sure is great to provide some nourishment since your kids will be using their brains, and their reasoning and memory abilities.

Tips to make breakfast happen:

  1. Set the table the night before.
  2. Have non-perishable items out – like the cereal; cut up fruit and keep in the fridge. 
  3. Turn off the distractions – computers, TV and cell phones. 
  4. Make a big batch of one or two items every weekend that you can reheat, like fruit or vegetable muffins or banana or zucchini bread, slow-cooker oatmeal, hard boiled eggs and mini muffin quiche
  5. Serve non-traditional foods for breakfast: grilled cheese sandwiches on whole-grain bread, black bean and cheese roll-ups with multi-grain tortillas, fruit and yogurt parfait, leftovers such as beef stew, hearty soup or a slice of pizza

And don’t forget the beverages. Slight dehydration can impact a child’s ability to think clearly and cause headaches. Pour milk, water and 100 percent fruit juice for the kids and yourself.

Finally, eat breakfast yourself and with your kids, if you can. What a great start to the day –a nourishing breakfast and time with your kids.


About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.