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Breakfast Provides More Than A Nutritional Meal
By Molly Kinnan
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Encouraging children to eat a good breakfast could provide them with more than just a nutritious meal but an essential source of energy needed to get through the school day.
Two Mississippi State University Dietetic Interns, Jennifer Eggert and Nancy Bowers, have researched the importance of breakfast for children under the supervision of Dr. Barbara McLaurin, MSU Extension nutritionist specialist.
"Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day, especially for school-age children. Studies have shown that children who receive a good breakfast learn better, are more alert and are more likely to participate in activities," Eggert said.
"Food choices from the basic food groups provide carbohydrates, protein and a moderate amount of fat. This helps to maintain blood sugar levels, thus delaying hunger for several hours," Eggert said. "A breakfast of highly sugared foods (doughnuts, pastries, highly sugared cereals, soft drinks or candy) causes of quick burst of energy that won't last. About an hour later, there will be a drop in blood sugar, a decline in energy and hunger will return."
According to the American Dietetic Association online, a nutritious breakfast should include foods from some of the basic food groups: breads and cereals, vegetables, fruit, milk and milk products, and meat and meat substitutes.
Cereals provide a quick, easy and low-fat source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Try to include milk, yogurt and other dairy in the breakfast routine as well. Pancakes, waffles or a omelet served with a glass of juice or milk is also a nutritious fare, providing a good balance of protein, vitamins and minerals to begin the day.
Preparing the children for school and getting ready for work can sometimes make the morning seem too hectic for breakfast.
"An easy way to make sure that you get breakfast in is to designate a time to eat every morning. Another reminder and a fast way to make breakfast is to set out a breakfast buffet the night before and include a variety of food choices," Eggert said.
Parents should not get discouraged if their child dislikes breakfast foods.
"Try to offer your children a variety of healthy food choices for breakfast, but not every child is satisfied with the breakfast menu their parents provide," Bowers said. "In these cases it is good to note that sometimes it is not what you eat but when you eat it. Even foods like cold pizza can provide nutrients that help energize a child for the rest of the day."
If a child is still refusing to eat breakfast Bowers suggest taking them along to the grocery store. Making children active participants in shopping ensures that they'll get something they'll enjoy.
The consequences of a child not receiving a nutritious breakfast could affect their school performance.