With so many products on the market claiming to be part of a healthy breakfast, there’s a great deal of misinformation surrounding what exactly is required for a nutritious start to the day. Every new research project also seems to be showing the benefits of eating well at breakfast. For children in particular, breakfast is simply the most important meal of the day.
Benefits of a healthy breakfast
There are a number of significant benefits for children when eating a healthy breakfast.
Children are growing and active, which is why it is of great importance to ensure they receive a healthy and consistent supply of protein and carbohydrates. A healthy breakfast provides the essential energy to kick start the day with the strength and endurance necessary to engage in mental and physical activity.
A healthy breakfast improves children’s concentration and comprehension. Studies have shown that children who eat breakfast perform better in school in a variety of very important ways.
A healthy breakfast helps to maintain lower cholesterol.
A healthy breakfast ensures a more nutritious and complete diet overall.
Children who eat healthy breakfasts have been shown to be significantly less likely to be overweight.
Children who skip breakfast are more likely to feel tired, restless, unfocused and irritable throughout the day.
What is a healthy breakfast?
There is certainly much discussion over exactly what a healthy breakfast entails, with dieticians, pediatricians and others giving somewhat different advice. Nevertheless, there is no doubt about a few elements of a great breakfast for children. A healthy breakfast should include whole grains that will provide the carbohydrates necessary for children to produce glucose for energy. Glucose is the body’s main source of energy and is often entirely used up by the morning. While processed grains will provide the carbohydrates necessary to produce glucose, the body breaks these down faster, leading to an initial burst of energy and then a significant drop after about two hours. Whole grains, on the other hand, are broken down more consistently thereby providing energy throughout the morning, without the dramatic rise and plummet in blood sugar levels.
Protein should also be part of a child’s breakfast as this will help them feel full until at least lunch. Healthy proteins will provide all the essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of virtually everything in the body. Unlike fat, the body has no way of storing protein, so it needs a steady supply to function effectively – though it’s important to note that extra protein does not give extra strength or provide additional benefits, so eating protein in modest amounts is best.
Finally, a healthy breakfast should also provide a significant amount of the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are required throughout the day. In particular, fibre, iron, B vitamins and folate are a few that can be targeted during the breakfast meal. This will help to ensure that by the end of the day, children get all of the essential vitamins and minerals that make up a healthy diet.
Providing a consistent and healthy breakfast can be difficult. What issues have you come across and what solutions can you provide?