Why Breakfast is your child’s most important meal of the day.

In the papers today, scientists have discovered that a five year olds brain is an ‘energy monster which uses twice as much glucose -the energy that fuels the brain- as that of a full grown adult’.

According to scientists, school-aged children have ‘so much to learn and that learning requires a complex and energy hungry brain’. This report is one of many that backs up the theory that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially for school children,whose brains are growing, learning and developing.

I have recently been involved with ‘The Mayor of London’s Biggest Breakfast Campaign’ which aims to provide breakfast for school children in deprived areas. It is shocking to read recent studies that have shown that up to 1 in 3 children are missing breakfast and turning up to school hungry.

There are lots of reasons why it is important children have a healthy and nutritious breakfast before they go to school.

When explaining to children why it is important for them to eat breakfast every day, I describe their body as being like a car. Imagine if mummy or daddy tried to drive their car to work in the morning without it having any petrol fuel inside (our equivalent of breakfast). The car wouldn’t work very well with an empty tank and is likely to be difficult to get started or break down during the journey. Our bodies are no different. If we start our day without putting breakfast fuel into our bodies, we will struggle to function normally, feel tired and find it difficult to concentrate.

Here are some more reasons why breakfast is important :

1: children need fuel to provide them with the important energy they need to get them through a morning of learning concentrating and playing. Breakfast is a great way of providing that fuel.

2: if your child misses breakfast they are more likely to be tired and irritable and find it difficult to concentrate in lessons, a time when they are supposed to be learning important new things.

3: breakfast actually plays a vital role in the mental and physical performance of your children and missing it can reduce your child’s ability to learn . Children that miss breakfast often under perform in the classroom.

4: according to studies, children who miss breakfast regularly are more likely to be overweight and to have more time off school due to coughs and colds.

So what makes a healthy breakfast ?
Well, like any meal, breakfast should be healthy and balanced and packed full of great nutrients.
As I mentioned before, one of the most important things that children need is energy to fuel their bodies and their brains.
Complex carbohydrates, like whole grain bread and breakfast cereals, are a great way of providing your child with a breakfast that will give them slow release energy throughout the morning .Wholegrain foods are generally low in fat and high in fibre too.
It is also good to include fruit, such as an apple or a banana.You could chop the fruit up and sprinkle it over cereal, or add to low fat yoghurt in a blender and make into a fruit smoothie. Fruit is a good source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and can help to keep your child’s immune system healthy.

Avoid sugary breakfast bars or cereals.These will cause a sudden rise in your child’s blood sugar levels which will then drop quickly, leaving your child tired and irritable and lacking in energy.
Remember parents are the best role models for their children. If your child sees you making time to sit down and have breakfast in the morning they are more likely to want to do the same.

Breakfast ideas:

  • Whole wheat cereal sprinkled with raisins or banana.
  • Porridge with raisins or a drop of honey.
  • Wholewheat toast with your child’s favourite spread and a portion of fruit
  • Banana sandwich on whole grain bread
  • Fruit smoothie with low fat yoghurt
  • Boiled egg and wholegrain toast

Don’t forget your fuel tomorrow morning. Eat well, stay healthy!