Breakfast has often been cited as the most important meal of the day but what exactly makes it so different from every other meal and if it's true why do one in four Australian children go to school hungry? Here are a few reasons why you should ensure that your kids start the day off with a healthy, nutritious breakfast.
Why is breakfast so important?
The body’s source of energy comes from glucose, which is absorbed from carbohydrates eaten throughout the day. While your little one sleeps, their body continues to release glycogen, the glucose that has been stored in their muscle tissue and liver, to keep their blood sugar levels normal. By morning your child’s glycogen stores are low. Eating breakfast will bring their blood sugar level back up and keep it up for longer during the day.
Other benefits of eating breakfast
Increased brainpower. After fasting all night your child’s brain needs a fresh supply of glucose, or blood sugar. For growing minds, choose foods that are rich in whole grains, fibre and protein. As well as feeding their brain, eating breakfast cereals and food with low or no added sugar can improve kids’ attention span, concentration and memory, making it easier for them to focus and follow along with classroom activities.
More energy. Giving your child a nutritious breakfast gives them the energy they need to participate at school without feeling tired and lethargic.
Maintain a healthy weight. Eating breakfast kick starts the metabolism and the body starts converting food into fuel. Children who skip breakfast are more likely to reach for snacks that are high in sugar throughout the day, which can contribute to weight gain. If skipping breakfast can’t be avoided, try sending them off with a healthy snack such as fresh fruit, yoghurt or a wholemeal sandwich.
Increased vitamins and minerals. Vitamins, minerals and nutrients are best absorbed by the body in the form of food - so kids who eat breakfast are more likely to consume their recommended daily fibre and calcium intake. While your kid’s body might have enough energy to make it to their next meal without breakfast, it is still vital to top up vitamin and mineral levels to ensure they stay healthy.
A happy child. A Child’s diet can greatly affect their mood. According to the South Australian government's health website, some studies have shown an increased rate of depression, anxiety and hyperactivity in children who do not eat breakfast.
Regular meals, starting with breakfast, translates into a happy, healthy and energetic child. Teaching your kids early on the importance of eating breakfast is teaching them a healthy eating habit for life.