“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper”… these statements are common to everyone’s ears but are hardly followed.
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In the midst of the morning rush, as most adults in urban areas travel far to work, meals are skipped for varied reasons.
Children and teenagers are no different as they barely manage to grab a glass of milk before rushing to school in the morning. Many working parents who are themselves rushed, can’t rustle up quick, healthy options at home, or are unaware of the benefits of eating breakfast.
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There are several evidences to prove that having a reasonably wholesome breakfast combining milk, grains and fruit reduces weight gain by giving a good metabolic start to the body and decreasing binge eating later in the day.
Breakfast helps in building up memory. After a long gap post dinner, our stomach needs something to get energy, so does our mind.
Breakfast provides both the energy and nutrients that lead to increased concentration in the classroom. High-fiber cereals and whole-grain products improve satiety, reducing the urge to binge in between meal times at school or work.
- Research proves that children who eat breakfast have better concentration during school hours than those who skip the morning meal. Numerous studies suggest that eating breakfast every day can even improve children’s mental performance and math scores.
- Eating a well-balanced breakfast improves their intake of fiber, vitamins and minerals, especially iron and vitamin C; these nutrients are essential in a balanced diet. In fact, a good breakfast provides one-fourth to one-third of the day’s energy and nutrient needs.
- Eating behaviours can promote or diminish healthy nutrition. Erratic eating behaviours are the cause of rising nutritional disorders setting in like obesity and malnutrition.
- Skipping breakfast also makes the child feel tired, restless or irritable by mid-morning. In fact, studies show that children who eat a healthy breakfast in the morning tend to concentrate better in class, show improved academic performance, better attendance and decreased hyperactivity in school.
Parents should also aim to make breakfast time fun for kids. Simply by making the regular sandwiches in different shapes or doing an art on the plate with fruits and vegetables can attract your child’s attention. Kids will start enjoying this first meal of the day and will not be as cranky to wake up 15 minutes earlier!
Try and eat with your child and model positive behaviours, show them how you enjoy healthy anytime food for breakfast like poha, idli, dalia, milk and cereal etc., how such healthy colourful breakfast keeps you healthy and fit.
In conclusion, it suffices to say that we should ensure that the child goes full stomach to school. Parents could plan ahead by deciding what the child is going to eat for breakfast the previous evening itself and prepare adequately for it by chopping vegetables or getting ingredients from the store.
One doesn’t need too much time to consume a healthy breakfast. Wake up your little one 15 minutes earlier to organize a quick, yet healthy breakfast on the go!
(Guest Contributor Richa Shukla works with Sesame Workshop in India.)