While the expression “breakfast is the most important meal” is subject to debate, there is no doubt a healthy breakfast gives children a strong start to the school day. And healthful snacking helps keep them going throughout the day.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics has noted distinct benefits from children having a healthy breakfast,” said Dr. Jenna Anding, professor and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service nutrition specialist, College Station. “Among these are evidence that children who eat breakfast have a lower BMI than those who skip breakfast, and those who have breakfast have more energy and concentration. And this may lead to better academic performance.”
Breakfast is also a good time to get the family together for a meal, Anding added. She suggested family members wake 10-15 minutes earlier than usual to ensure there is adequate time for a family breakfast.
Anding, also a registered dietician, said a good breakfast should contain a nutrient-rich source of energy along with protein to help keep children satisfied until lunch. Examples include cereal made with whole grains, eggs and smoothies made with low-fat yogurt and fruit.
Odessa Keenan, AgriLife Extension assistant in Dallas for the agency’s Healthy Texas initiative, said the agency’s Dinner Tonight website at https://dinnertonight.tamu.edu/ contains breakfast recipes as well as recipes for healthy snacks and other meals.
Keenan also noted the importance of healthy snacking to keep students energized before or after lunch.
She suggested preparing vegetables and fruits ahead as this will help save time, and research has shown that children consume more fruits and vegetables when they are cut up and ready to eat. If packing them in a lunch for school, make sure they are kept cold.
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