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When I was growing up, my mother insisted that my sister, brother and I eat breakfast every morning. This was non-negotiable. Mom said, You cant learn on an empty stomach. Just once, I wanted to go to school hungry to find out if she was right, but I never. First of all, there was no way my mo...

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Why Breakfast Really Is the Most Important Meal of the Day

Posted by: Angela Norton Tyler on Oct 12, 2009 in Nutrition, Kids Learning


Angela Norton Tyler
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When I was growing up, my mother insisted that my sister, brother and I eat breakfast every morning. This was non-negotiable. Mom said, "You can't learn on an empty stomach." Just once, I wanted to go to school hungry to find out if she was right, but I never. First of all, there was no way my mother was letting me out of the house without breakfast. Secondly, she cooked serious breakfasts: scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage sandwiches, fried apples, pancakes, French toast, waffles, scrapple and eggs. (I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.) So, I ate breakfast, and I did well in school, but I had no idea if one thing had anything to do with the other.

Turns out, my mother was right (again). You can't learn on an empty stomach!

Children that regularly eat a nutritious breakfast have improved concentration, better problem-solving skills, more physical stamina, and are less likely to eat unhealthy snacks after school. They miss fewer days of school. They are more fit than students that don’t eat breakfast. They sit calmly in their seats, always raise their hands, and remember everything the teacher tells them. (Maybe that last sentence was a slight exaggeration, but not much. Students with full stomachs are much easier to teach, as any teacher will tell you.)

Most convenience breakfast foods are loaded with fat, sugar and preservatives. Refined sugar- found in those yummy breakfast cereals your kids beg for- is especially insidious. Sugar is a powerful drug that takes you on a high and then brings you crashing down in the middle of math.

Nobody is saying that you must get up at dawn and make your children a ten-course meal from scratch. Make sure that they eat something that will “stick to their ribs” and help them sail through the morning.

Here are a few good breakfast choices to mix and match: oatmeal, fruit, cereal, toast, yogurt, muffins, milk, soy milk, tofu, nuts, string cheese, fruit smoothie. Or, why not live a little and give your kids a veggie wrap, or a bowl of chicken noodle soup, or a ham and cheese sandwich, maybe even a slice of pizza and a glass of milk?

Like the Spanish proverb says, "The belly rules the mind."

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