By: Kelly Atyeo, B.A.Sc., M.H.Sc., P.H.Ec.
Eating breakfast can get your child that much closer to doing their best on their report card. Over the past 20 years, much research has been conducted on the impact of a healthy breakfast and learning in children and teens.1General findings about the importance of breakfast and the link to learning have sparked nationwide initiatives to ensure children are well fed before and during their school day. Breakfast for Learning is an example of a Canadian charity that helps provide school-based breakfasts, lunches and snacks to children. This organization helps build awareness about the link between nutrition and learning.2
The importance of breakfast is crucial when it comes to helping children and teens focus in the classroom. Children and teens that eat breakfast have better memory function, academic performance on tests, and possibly even better moods.1
Yet, the question remains, what makes a healthy breakfast?
Before your child hits the books, make sure they eat a healthy breakfast. This is because it provides the brain with fuel to start their day. Also, people who skip breakfast are at a greater risk to miss out on important nutrients during their day like calcium, vitamin D, and zinc.1
Breakfast should include 3 of the 4 food groups (Vegetables & Fruits, Grain Products, Milk Products, Meat and Alternatives) from Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide3. This will ensure that your child’s nutrient intake is a balanced one.
Below are 3 simple healthy breakfast ideas to get your kids ready for their day.
Grab-and-Go Breakfast Smoothie
Breakfast smoothies are a great option for kids who don’t like to eat too much food in the morning.4 They can enjoy a lot of nutrients in one glass!
- ½ cup (125 mL) yogurt
- ¼ cup (60 mL) skim/1% milk or dairy alternative
- 1 banana
- 1 cup (250 mL) frozen strawberries
- Blend yogurt, milk, banana, and strawberries. Eat with ½ whole grain bagel or ¼ cup (30 g) of dried cereal/granola for a complete breakfast.
Quick & Easy Breakfast Wrap
For a fun way to use leftover chicken, put it into a wrap for breakfast. If you are in a time crunch, make the mixture ahead of time, wrap it in a tortilla and heat in the morning. Who says you can’t have chicken for breakfast?
- 1 whole grain (100%) tortilla
- 1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
- ¼ cup (60 mL) red pepper
- ¼ cup (60 mL) cheddar cheese
- leftover chicken
- In a lightly oiled skillet, sauté the red pepper.
- Add leftover chicken to the skillet (2 minutes to heat)
- Spoon the mixture onto whole grain tortilla. Add cheese.
- Roll the tortilla and enjoy!
Make breakfast fun for your kids by giving them the choice of what ingredients go on an English muffin in the morning. It may even become a culinary experiment!
- 1 English muffin
- cream cheese or whatever spread you wish!
- 3-4 slices of cucumbers
- 1 glass orange juice
- Toast English muffin.
- Spread about 1 Tbsp of cream cheese
- Add 3-4 slices of cucumber
- Make a sandwich
- Enjoy with a glass of orange juice
Breakfast is for Parents too!
Research shows that if you skip breakfast, your children will be more likely to skip breakfast and miss out on all its benefits too.5 Be a healthy eating role model and make breakfast a priority for your entire family!
- Murphy, J. (2007). Breakfast and Learning: An Updated Review. Current Nutrition & Food Science, 3, 3-36. Retrieved December 14, 2012
- Breakfast for Learning. (2012). About Us. Retrieved December 14, 2012
- Eat Right Ontario. (2012). Make a Balanced Breakfast a Habit in Your Home. Retrieved December 14, 2012
- Middlesex-London Health Unit. (2009). Nutrition Facts. Retrieved December 14, 2012
- Rahkonen-Keski, A., Kaprio, J., Rissanen, A., Virkkunen, M. & Rose, R. (2003). Breakfast Skipping and Health-Compromising Behaviors in Adolescents and Adults. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 57, 842-853.