|
|
The Suburbanite
  • Breakfast is important, doesn’t have to be boring

  • Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. It fuels the body.

    • email print
  •  
    Parents, brace yourself. Schoolday morning madness is here, which may mean the return of those dreaded three words: “I’m not hungry.”
     
    And as your kids head out the door unfed and seemingly content, you may wonder: Does breakfast really matter?  
     
    “Absolutely,” Amy Merda said, and without a moment’s pause, we might add. Merda is a dietitian and Director of Food and Nutrition Services for North Canton City Schools. And yes, Merda says, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.
     
    “It breaks that fast from the time you sleep to the time you wake up,” she said. “It gets your metabolism started for the day.”
     
    Visualize it like this, said Ashley Lazzerini, a dietitian with Premier Family Practice in Jackson Township: “Think of your body as a machine. You gotta fuel the machine to get it working properly.” 
     
    When you wake up, the fuel tank is running on fumes. 
     
    “Within the first hour, you need to eat a well balanced breakfast with carbohydrates, protein and some fat,” Lazzerini said. “Carbs fuel the mind, protein fuels the muscles, and protein and fat help make you feel full and satisfied.”
     
    Julie Finney, a dietitian and Clinical Nutrition Manager at Mercy Medical Center in Canton, says research proves breakfast is vital. Finney points to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a professional organization to which she belongs.  
     
    “And I’m quoting,” she said. “Studies show that breakfast eaters tend to have higher school attendance, less tardiness and fewer hunger-induced stomach aches in the morning. They also say breakfast eaters test scores are higher, they concentrate better, solve problems more easily and have better muscle coordination.”
     
    Students who don’t eat breakfast are at a disadvantage, she said.
     
    “I don’t know how kids would be able to get the nutrients they need without breakfast,” said Finney. “When you talk to classroom teachers, they will tell you they notice a difference in kids behavior when they have breakfast and when they have not.”
     
    Why won’t kids eat? For some, it’s fatigue. Or nerves. Or they are “just not a breakfast person.”
     
    Parents may wonder, is anything better than nothing for breakfast? Is a cream stick better than an empty stomach?
     
    Nope, say nutritionists.
     
    “You don’t want to put straight sugar into your system in the morning,” Merda said. “It can spike your blood sugar and make you crash really hard.”
     
    That means parents will need to get creative, Merda said.
     
    Page 2 of 2 - “It doesn’t have to be breakfast food,” she said. “It can be a lean protein, a nice whole grain and some fruit.”
     
    For Merda’s 9-year-old daughter, yogurt does the trick.
     
    “We do yogurt almost daily,” she said. “It’s a nice lean protein for her.”
     
    Foods such as eggs and milk may not sit right with some kids in the morning, Finney acknowledges.
     
    “Think of other sources of carbohydrates and proteins,” she said. “Half a turkey sandwich, that works.”
     
    Even pizza?
     
    “Fine,” Finney said. “Again, you’ve got carbohydrates in the crust, the cheese has protein, as does sausage or pepperoni.”
     
    Some kids don’t eat because their bellies aren’t quite ready, Finney said.
     
    “But once they’ve gotten up, and gotten moving, ridden the bus to school, they might feel different,” she said. “For those schools that offer breakfast, why not participate? Maybe that works for them.”
     
    Learning to eat a good breakfast will reap benefits for a lifetime, says Lazzerini.
     
    “If you are taught at a young age that one of the first things you should do in the morning is to fuel your body, you are more than likely to carry that into adult life,” she said.
     
    Don’t give up parents, Lazzerini advises.
     
    “After about two or three months of doing something habitually, it becomes a permanent habit,” she said. “It may take a couple months to get into the routine, but then they will start to not even really think about it.”