Breakfast non-negotiable for kids

breakfastChaplain Ronnie Timperon who works at both coast schools, is alarmed about breakfast choices for students. “We’ve seen kids have a can of Red Bull for breakfast. How are they going to concentrate with this start to their day?”

Ronnie and the church volunteers, with the help of local businesses, run a Breakfast Club, from 7.30am Tuesdays and Thursdays at Tin Can Bay School. “Talking to parents it is obvious there is confusion out there about what is acceptable for breakfast.”

The Dietitians Association of Australia is calling on parents to make eating breakfast ‘non-negotiable’ for school-aged children, after recent research highlighted the huge pitfalls for students who start school hungry.

The research, released by Foodbank, found teachers noticed most students who skipped breakfast had low energy levels and difficulty concentrating.

It also showed three children in every classroom were arriving at school hungry or without breakfast, and for many of these students, this happened more than three times a week.

These figures are something nutrition experts do not find surprising. Kate Di Prima, Spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, said skipping breakfast will make children feel “fuzzy” in the head and lethargic because their brains are being starved of energy.

“The brain requires energy in the form of glucose to function at its best throughout the day. Nutritious breakfast foods such as grainy bread, breakfast cereals, fruit and milk provide healthy sources of glucose.

“A healthy breakfast gives kids the right fuel to start the day, helping them to fully participate in class and achieve the best grades possible,” said Ms Di Prima, an accredited practising dietitian.

In fact, research shows eating breakfast to be linked with an improvement in literacy and numeracy skills in school children, potentially impacting their long-term employment options .

“Breakfast should not be optional for school children. To put it simply, their growth and development depends on getting enough of the right nutrients – and without breakfast, they will really struggle to get their daily quota,” said Ms Di Prima.

She said the best breakfast for growing children is one that is high in fibre, contains low Glycaemic Index options, and includes protein.

Top options for a brain-boosting breakfast

You do not need to be an amazing chef to eat a good and healthy breakfast. Here are some fast, easy and affordable ideas to help you start the day with breakfast:

  • porridge
  • wholegrain breakfast cereal with milk, topped with fresh fruit
  • wholegrain toast (or if time is tight, a sandwich made the night before) with avocado, sliced tomato, or sliced banana
  • wholemeal muffin or crumpet with baked beans and a low-fat yoghurt
  • boiled egg, with or without toast
  • poached or scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast
  • zucchini slice or vegetable and egg muffin (like a quiche without the pastry)
  • piece of fruit
  • tub of yoghurt
  • a  smoothie made from milk, fresh fruit and yoghurt.

Tips for adults

  • If eating breakfast early in the day does not sit right with you, try eating a ‘light’ breakfast such as a slice of wholegrain toast, English muffin, glass of milk, piece of fruit or a small bowl of cereal. Or try eating breakfast a little later in the morning.
  • If you do not usually eat breakfast, starting with small portions can help you to ease into the routine.
  • Give yourself the best chance of success by being prepared. Have a variety breakfast options in your pantry. It makes eating breakfast easier and may help stop you from eating less healthy foods.
  • Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than usual to make sure you have time to eat breakfast.
  • Plan what you will make for breakfast the night before to make it easier in the morning.

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