Why Is Breakfast The Most Important Meal of the Day?

Tuesday, August 3, 2021
You've probably heard the phrase, 'breakfast is the most important meal of the day,' right? Your own parents might've told you this when you were a child. But now you are the parent, and it's important to stress the benefits of breakfast to your own children. This is easier said than done, especially during busy mornings when families are rushing to school or work. Even if you’re a grab-and-go breakfast person or a parent who survives on just coffee, making sure your family is fueled up each morning can definitely make a difference in their day.

photo credit: A. Inay, Unsplash

Why Bother with Breakfast?

When everyone is rushing around getting ready for school, it can be tempting to just skip it, since having breakfast will only waste more time.But breakfast helps give kids the fuel that their body needs, especially after a good night's sleep. Research has proved that kids who have breakfast do tend to be healthier than their counterparts who do not. They're also more likely to be active, alert, and focused.

If kids skip breakfast, they can be irritable, restless, and lack energy. Just like adults! Some children can sleep for ten to twelve hours, depending on their age, so giving them healthy fuel is important after that long period of fasting. If they aren’t fueled when the day starts, that can lead to unhealthy snacking till lunchtime, resulting in more calories consumed overall. This can mean weight gain due to excess calories, which can be detrimental to health.

Breakfast helps to maintain a healthy weight for children, which is not only important for their physical health, but it can play a part in their mental well-being too. When children eat a good breakfast, it helps to boost their metabolism, and this is a vital process that helps their bodies convert food into energy. If their metabolism gets moving, it will help burn calories. 

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Making Breakfast Easier in Your Home

Ideal breakfast foods include things like fruit, low-fat milk and whole-grain waffles. But this isn’t always possible when you’re rushing around and getting ready for the day. Here are some ways to make breakfast happen, even if things are feeling rushed and chaotic, so that your kids have plenty to eat before they head out the door.

  • Make sure that you always have some healthy breakfast options in the home at all times. This could be whole-grain breads, whole-grain cereals, yogurt, fruit, and eggs. 
  • Prepare as much as you need the night before. Some mornings will just be toast and low-sugar cereal, but other mornings you could have whole-grain pancakes cooked ahead of time, as well as slow cooker oatmeal or overnight oats that can be prepared ahead of time. It could be worth looking into steel cut oats vs. rolled oats vs. instant oats when it comes to porridge or overnight oats, to find what's best for the energy needs of children. 
  • Chop fruit ahead of time so it's ready to grab and go. Think about other ways to prepare fruits to go, such as healthy trail mixes, yogurts, bags of veggies, or ready to drink smoothies when time is of the essence. 
  • It can be easier said than done, but getting everyone up just ten minutes earlier can be all that you need to fit in a good breakfast
  • Children sometimes complain that they're just not hungry first thing in the morning. This can be true, which is why smoothies or drinkable yogurts might work instead. If you have a child going to preschool or daycare, then make sure you know what your options are. Sometimes daycares and preschools offer breakfasts free or a small additional cost. If eating later suits your child better, then it's something to consider. 

The foods to avoid at breakfast time are the sugar filled foods that all kids love (unfortunately). Toaster pastries, donuts and sugary cereals are best to be avoided. They will only give kids a quick burst of energy, making them feel worse afterwards, which is not good. Foods that will keep their blood sugar levels steady, rather than giving them a spike and then a crash, are the ones to look for. The best of these being low-fat dairy products, eggs, avocado, whole grain toast, and oats.

photo credit: K. Sikkema, Unsplash

Healthy Breakfast Ideas to Try

  • Whole-grain cereal with fruit and low-fat milk of choice
  • Whole-grain pancakes or waffles with chopped fruit
  • Whole-grain pancakes or waffles with nut butter, fruit, or cottage cheese
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Overnight oats topped with nuts and fruit
  • Warm porridge topped with nuts and fruit
  • Whole-grain bagel with nut butter and a piece of fruit
  • Smoothies, made from dairy such as milk or yogurt, with added wheat bran, veggies like spinach, avocado or kale, and fruit chunks like mango or pineapple
  • Omelet with veggies 
  • Avocado toast, topped with scrambled egg
  • Bran muffins with fresh berries
  • Whole-grain toast with hummus and sliced cucumbers
  • Whole-grain toast with smoked salmon and low-fat cream cheese
  • Whole-grain toast with lean turkey bacon and sliced cucumber and tomato
  • Breakfast burrito with shredded cheese, scrambled egg and salsa, in a whole-grain wrap

An important thing to remember is that children learn from their parents. If they see their parents  avoiding food, only grabbing coffee, or eating a candy bar for breakfast, they might want to do the same. It's good for everyone to embrace breakfast and fuel up the right way in order to set a good example for our little ones and create a lifetime of healthy habits for them. Sitting down together as a family can be hard in the morning, but it can also be a good habit and routine to get into. Starting the day off together, eating breakfast and communicating can help everyone start off right.

Do you have any breakfasts that are your go-to ideas at home? What do your kids love? It would be great to hear what you think and what tips and tricks get your children to eat breakfast. 


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