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Benefits of a Healthy Breakfast

Hello Villagers,

A healthy breakfast is often considered the most important meal of the day. Scientific studies regularly support this. Breakfast meals differ from person to person and culture to culture. What may be the first meal of the day for you and your family, could be very different than the first meal of the day for me and my family. Because of these variances in foods eaten and time of consumption, scientists who study the benefits of breakfast wanted to have a standard definition/description when using it in research.  One suggested definition is that “breakfast is the first meal of the day that breaks the fast after the longest period of sleep and is consumed within 2 to 3 hours of waking; it is comprised of food and beverage from at least one food group, and may be consumed at any location.” Unfortunately, this means my standard cup of coffee as I get the kids ready for school doesn’t count; but their fruit and breakfast bar in the car on hectic mornings technically does. I’ll consider that a win.

Eating a healthy breakfast benefits us in ways beyond simple nutrition and research continuously shows this for both adults and kids. Here are a few reasons breakfast should be regularly on your menu:

Improved Academic Performance

Eating breakfast has been associated with improved academic performance, psychosocial behavior, concentration and attention. Children who eat breakfast have increased memory, better moods, and higher test scores compared to students who do not eat breakfast.

Eating breakfast has been associated with improved academic performance, psychosocial behavior, concentration and attention. Children who eat breakfast have increased memory, better moods, and higher test scores compared to students who do not eat breakfast.

Eating breakfast has been associated with improved academic performance, psychosocial behavior, concentration and attention. Children who eat breakfast have increased memory, better moods, and higher test scores compared to students who do not eat breakfast.

Helps Manage Weight

Eating breakfast is associated with improved weight control. This is attributed to an increased feeling of fullness that may lead to less intake throughout the day.

Eating breakfast is associated with improved weight control. This is attributed to an increased feeling of fullness that may lead to less intake throughout the day.

Eating breakfast is associated with improved weight control. This is attributed to an increased feeling of fullness that may lead to less intake throughout the day.

Improves Diet Quality

Consuming breakfast gives us another opportunity for nutrient intake. Including this meal in our daily diets improves the likelihood that we will increase our fruit, vegetable, dairy, and whole grain intake.

Consuming breakfast gives us another opportunity for nutrient intake. Including this meal in our daily diets improves the likelihood that we will increase our fruit, vegetable, dairy, and whole grain intake.

Consuming breakfast gives us another opportunity for nutrient intake. Including this meal in our daily diets improves the likelihood that we will increase our fruit, vegetable, dairy, and whole grain intake.

Reduces Risk of Certain Chronic Diseases

Thanks to it's role in weight management and improved nutrient intake, eating a regular healthy breakfast may reduce the risk of developing certain chronic disease, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Thanks to it's role in weight management and improved nutrient intake, eating a regular healthy breakfast may reduce the risk of developing certain chronic disease, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Thanks to it's role in weight management and improved nutrient intake, eating a regular healthy breakfast may reduce the risk of developing certain chronic disease, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Provides Another Opportunity for Family Meals

If eaten together, breakfast provides families with another opportunity for a family meal. Regular family meals can improve behavior and academic performance in children.

If eaten together, breakfast provides families with another opportunity for a family meal. Regular family meals can improve behavior and academic performance in children.

If eaten together, breakfast provides families with another opportunity for a family meal. Regular family meals can improve behavior and academic performance in children.

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There are many reasons people give for not eating breakfast: not hungry in the morning, lack of easy breakfast options, lack of time, and lack of planning are just a few.  Between hectic schedules, packing lunches, slow moving children, last minute homework, etc., breakfast is frequently bypassed on our way out the door in the mornings (see above reference to eating in the car). Here are a few ways that can help you prepare ahead of time in order to make a healthy breakfast happen:
  1. Prepare foods ahead of time. I realize that this is easier said than done. I can rarely do this on weekday nights, but if I can manage on Sundays, then our mornings get a whole lot easier. I’ll try to make muffins, boil eggs, or make a pan of baked oatmeal that can be microwaved throughout the week.
  2. Use freezer breakfast meals. This goes along with the food prep on Sundays. There are many items that I can make in bulk and throw in our freezer. If I’m making baked oatmeal for the week, I’ll go ahead and make a second one to freeze and use later. Same goes for muffins. Often my recipes make a ton and if I bake them all, they’ll go bad after a while. Using a freezer safe muffin pan, I freeze the batter in muffins cups creating easy to store discs. This batter can be thawed (in the muffin pan to retain the shape) and baked on Sunday to be eaten throughout the week. Plus, since I froze the batter instead of baked muffins, they taste fresher. I also freeze breakfast burritos, sandwiches, french toast, and waffles. Mind you, I don’t make these all at once. My weekend would be lost if I did.
  3. Prepare the table ahead of time. This is a great task for kids to help with. As the dinner table and dishes are being cleaned, have your children set out plates, cups, and utensils for the following morning.
  4. If all else fails, wake up a few minutes earlier. 

 

Here are two healthy breakfast recipes that help me get food on the table in the mornings:
Apple cinnamon baked oatmeal - This is a great one that my kids love. Leftovers will microwave well the next day. You can also make it ahead of time and freeze a pan. I serve mine with greek yogurt to add a dairy protein source.
Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal – This is a great one that my kids love. Leftovers will microwave well the next day. You can also make it ahead of time and freeze a pan. I serve mine with greek yogurt to add a dairy protein source.
Pumpkin Spice Muffins – All of my kids love these little gems. They are high fiber and packed with pumpkin nutrients and whole grains. I pair them with either boiled eggs (if I made them earlier in the week) or greek yogurt and fruit.

 

I hope you’ve found this helpful. If you have breakfast tips you’d like to share, please comment below!

Jessica Barnes, PhD, RDN, LD

Dr. Jessica Barnes received her PhD in nutrition from Texas Woman's University. Her research focused on food preference development and creating materials to help preschoolers become familiar with healthy foods. She has worked with families and communities as a clinical and community Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

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