Many people think that having breakfast is only important for children. Though eating breakfast is indeed very important for children, it doesn't become less important as you get older. A good breakfast jump starts our day by giving our brains and bodies the energy needed to function well throughout the morning.
There are many health benefits of eating a healthy breakfast such as:
- Increasing the likelihood you will meet your daily needs for nutrients, and vitamins and minerals.
- Improving concentration and performance in the classroom or at work.
- Providing energy and endurance for participating in physical activity.
- Contributing to the maintenance of a healthy weight.
Eating breakfast is important for everyone, but is especially so for children and adolescents. According to the American Dietetic Association, children who eat breakfast perform better in the classroom and on the playground, with better concentration, problem-solving skills, and eye-hand coordination.
A breakfast meal can and should provide between a quarter and a third of your daily protein, as well as complex carbohydrates rich in fiber and a dose of fat. Some examples of balanced and easy-to-make breakfasts include:
- A whole wheat English muffin or whole grain toast with low-fat cheese, a scrambled egg, and slice of tomato or lean ham
- Salmon on 1/2 whole grain bagel with light cream cheese
- A fruit smoothie made with low-fat yogurt
- Whole grain cereal with fresh fruit and low-fat milk
- Oatmeal made with skim milk, raisins and nuts, and a small glass of juice of piece of fresh fruit
- Low-fat yogurt and a piece of fresh fruit
- A breakfast bar, low-fat cottage cheese and a piece of fresh fruit
- An egg (preferably hard-boiled) and a piece of fresh fruit
- A piece of low-fat string cheese and fresh fruit
A balanced breakfast provides important nutrients needed on a daily basis. Because many people include fruit juice and milk in their breakfast meal, it fulfills part of people's daily need for calcium, and vitamins C and D. A study by the Department of Nutrition at the University of California, San Diego, analyzed eating habits among 2,500 adults and showed that those who skip breakfast get 40% less calcium and vitamin C and 10% less iron than those who eat breakfast.
With the pace of life most families are living today, fewer families are taking the time to eat breakfast regularly. If its time that prevents you from eating breakfast, try setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier in the morning to fit in a nutritious breakfast. Adults that eat breakfast are not only doing themselves a favor, but they are also setting a good example for their kids. Be sure to provide your kids with a lot of healthy options to choose from for breakfast, so that they will be excited about eating this meal, and continue this habit in the future.
People who skip breakfast often do so to cut calories. However, calories consumed at one meal or one day is not what leads to weight gain. Weight gain is always a result of the total number of calories eaten exceeding the amount of calories burned. This usually happens over a longer time period than one day. In addition, when our bodies go without nourishment for long periods of time, its natural reaction is to slow down its metabolism, to conserve any energy it does have.
So don't skip this essential meal. A good breakfast every day is a positive step toward losing weight and feeling good throughout the day.
Sources: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2007; vol 107: pp 565-569. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, July 2007; vol 107(7): pp 1139-1145. Department of Nutrition at the University of California, San Diego.
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