Most teens and adults find a variety of excuses for skimping on breakfast or skipping it entirely each morning. "I'm not hungry in the morning." "I don't like breakfast foods." "I'm trying to lose weight." "I don't have time," or "I'd rather sleep those extra few minutes each day." The list could go on.
However, recent studies suggest more strongly than ever that the benefits of eating breakfast far outweigh the excuses that most of us give for skipping it.
For example, how often do you find it hard to get to school on time and then, once there, to concentrate for the first few hours? Well, a recent Boston study examining the effects of breakfast on 100 elementary students found that eating breakfast improves academic performance, punctuality and attendance. In addition, children who skipped breakfast on a regular basis experienced more behavioral problems than those who did not.
Another similar study found that children who do eat breakfast are more likely to meet the rest of their nutritional needs throughout the day; therefore, they have a healthier diet overall than those who skip breakfast.
Some may think that not eating breakfast will help them watch their weight or cut out a few "extra calories" in their diet. However, studies prove that eating breakfast can actually help maintain or even lose weight. Eating breakfast in the morning stimulates your metabolism for the day, and it also stabilizes blood sugar levels, which regulate appetite control.
With all these benefits, one finding is common throughout the studies:A healthy, nutritional breakfast is the most important thing!
Some ideas for making your own quick and nutritious breakfast before heading to school include:
• Yogurt mixed with granola and fresh fruit
• Whole-grain cereal topped with low-fat milk and a sliced banana
• Frozen whole-grain waffles with fresh berries and a scoop of cottage cheese on the side
• Whole-grain toast or bagel with peanut butter or cream cheese and a piece of fruit
• Toast with jam, a fried egg and a small bowl of fruit salad
In addition, keep the following pointers in mind while planning your morning menus:
- Try to include fruit, grains and protein each morning.
- Find whole-grain cereals, breads, muffins and waffles that include little or no refined sugars.
- Fresh fruit is nutritionally superior to canned fruit, and apples and bananas are available all year.
- If you do not like typical "breakfast foods," then be creative! Have a peanut butter and banana sandwich, a homemade smoothie or even leftovers from last night's dinner!