Breakfast has been touted as "the most important meal of the day" - and for good reason. After a whole night of not eating, a growing body and brain wakes in the morning needing a fresh energy supply. The brain needs energy (in the form of proteins, amino acids, vitamins and glucose) in order to learn, remember, hold attention, and function optimally.
So we know that students shouldn't skip breakfast. The next question is, what foods should kids be eating to break the night time fast? It turns out that the most common breakfast foods - cereal, muffins, pancakes, waffles, donuts, toast with jam, juice - are probably the worst foods to eat first thing in the morning. These foods are low in vital nutrients, and have a high glycemic index, which means that the carbohydrates are very quickly absorbed into our bodies and turned into glucose. That means a quick rush of energy followed by an equally quick drop in blood sugar and inevitable mid-morning "crash" about 2 hours after breakfast. Low blood sugar is associated with difficulty concentrating, poor memory, and moodiness.
Whole grains have a lower glycemic index. That means the carbohydrates in a bowl of oatmeal, for example, will be more slowly absorbed and provide a steady release of energy over a longer period of time than a bowl of sweetened cereal and milk. Fiber and protein contribute to a lower glycemic index, and plenty of each should be a part of every breakfast.
Here are some ideas for easy and healthy breakfasts that will help your child's brain function well all morning:
- Protein smoothie (whey or pea) - 15g protein, 1/2 banana 1-2c frozen berries blended with almond, soy, oat milk or water
- Scrambled eggs (2) with 1-2 servings of fresh fruit
- Yogurt Parfait - Plain organic yogurt with fresh/frozen berries mixed in (to add natural sweetness) sprinkled with organic granola
- Oatmeal with chopped nuts, dried or fresh fruit, cinnamon, and whole organic milk
- Large organic apple with almond, cashew, peanut butter, etc.
- Whole grain tortilla wrapped around scrambled eggs and your favorite condiments (salsa, spinach, tomatoes, avocado, organic cheese)
- Natural minimally processed meats such as sausage, bacon, ham, chicken, etc. are a fine addition to any breakfast
If you have concerns about your or your loved one's diet, call (717) 494-4500 today to schedule a visit.