Monday, December 24, 2018

Why Is Breakfast The Most Important Meal Of The Day?

Time and again, it has been reinforced that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast gives the body the refuelling it needs for the day ahead, after going without food for eight to ten hours during the night. The primary fuel for the brain is glucose and it is dependent upon a constant supply of this from the blood stream. When you wake up in the morning, you have, in effect, been on an overnight fast. Thus, eating breakfast boosts the levels of glucose in the blood circulation. This specially holds value for children. Without breakfast, our bodies cease to get the jump-start they require to operate at their fullest potential throughout the day.

Why Is Breakfast Important For Kids? 
At school, a hungry child can often lose concentration in class, have no energy for playtime, and when famished could go on to snack on unhealthy foods such as chips or biscuits. A wholesome and healthy breakfast every day is the best way to prevent the same. It also helps with inculcating good and long-term eating habits into all kids. Children who eat a sumptuous breakfast are more likely to meet vitamin and mineral requirements than those who skip breakfast. They also tend to consume more vitamin C, calcium, folic acid, and fiber. When you skip breakfast, you are missing out on your morning dose of essential nutrients. Children who eat breakfast regularly, thus, have more energy, exhibit less aggressive behaviour, and display a better attitude towards school.

The role of breakfast in an improved performance at school has been discussed and debated for decades. Research has found that children who appear for class tests after skipping breakfast tend to make more errors, do not respond as fast and have a slower memory recall. Studies also suggest that the functioning of the brain is sensitive to short-term variations in nutrient availability. A small fast may impose greater stress on young children, as opposed to adults. Breakfast also plays an important role in cognitive functions, and paves the way to establishing an eating pattern comprising small regular meals.  This, in the long run, is key to effectively maintaining one's weight.

Along with timing, what one eats is also important. Choose breakfast foods that are rich in whole grains, fiber and protein, and low in added sugar. Serve a balanced breakfast to young ones that includes some carbohydrates, protein and fiber. Carbohydrates make for a good and immediate source of energy for the body, while energy from proteins tends to kick-in after the carbs are used up. Fiber helps provide a feeling of fullness and therefore, discourages overeating.

Healthy Breakfast Ideas For Kids: Quick Breakfast Ideas for Kids
·         Vegetable upma, vegetable poha, vermicelli upma (made with whole wheat vermicelli), and idli / dosa with sambhar and chutney
·         Bhakri / Thepla / Chapatis with vegetables
·         Porridges like ragi, rawa, and oats made with milk. These are easy to make, are less time consuming, and light too.
·         Multigrain bread with cheese / butter are other convenient options with either an egg preparation, or a vegetable omelette with whole wheat bread
·         Cereals served with low fat milk are also healthy breakfast options with some fruits and nuts on the side.

With breakfast, it is healthier to have a good energy drink besides water. Beverages such as low fat milk or freshly squeezed fruit juices that are low in sugar could also work. Fruit juices can be replaced with fruits. One of the reasons for childhood obesity is also attributed to the skipping of meals. If a child misses breakfast, he tends to eat more during his next meal and all of it may not necessarily be healthy.

Healthy Breakfast For Kids: Parents Should Lead by Example
In spite of all the compelling information on the benefits of breakfast, why does one out of eight school children start the day without eating breakfast? Some are not encouraged to do so by their parents, while some commonly argue about the lack of time, absence of hunger and distaste for breakfast foods. No matter what the barrier may be, parents can and should find a way to overcome those. They must set a good example for their children by consuming a sumptuous breakfast themselves. Children tend to imitate the behaviour of adults, so if they don't see their parents eating well, they are likely to deprive themselves of the required nutrition.

To sum up, The Academy of Nutrition has found that children who eat a healthy, and well balanced breakfast are more likely to:
·         Meet the daily nutrient requirements
·         Concentrate better
·         Have better problem solving skills
·         Have better hand - eye coordination
·         Stay alert
·         Be more creative
·         Have a better attendance at school
·         Be more physically active

It can seem challenging to manage breakfast with one's hectic schedule, but setting the alarm 15 minutes prior for the child can aid in the parent and child living a long and healthy life.

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