26 Aug 2014 09:59:49 MDT Written by: Administration

Back to School: A Nutritious Start Will Help Children throughout the Day

A healthy breakfast can get the day off to a good start, especially for children. According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), children perform better in school and are more likely to stay healthier in later years when they get a nutritious start each day. The organization cites research showing a correlation between eating in the morning and better performance in such areas as test results, recall and verbal skills. Remember, after going through the night for eight to ten hours without food, heading off without breakfast is the equivalent of running on empty.

Some ADA suggestions to get your kids to the table each morning:

  • Offer variety - Cereals, especially those that are lower in sugar, are a good source of carbohydrates for children. In addition, the milk supplies needed calcium and protein. Read the nutrition labels to find cereals that have less sugar.
  • Make it easy - If pressed for time in the morning, try cutting up fruit the night before, for a ready topping for cereal or yogurt.
  • Be creative - Breakfast doesn't have to be limited to cereal or toast. An English muffin with mozzarella and tomato sauce may seem unconventional to parents, but if a child enjoys it, it can be a healthy choice.
  • Read the nutrition labels - Some foods might surprise you. For example, many toaster waffles are actually quite low in fat. Top them with some fruit spread, add a glass of low-fat milk, and you have a quick and easy breakfast that combines good taste and good health.

Many schools now provide breakfast at the school in the morning. That can be a good and healthy option as well. Government programs subsidize the meals and in some cases, they are free.

The importance of nutrition

As a group, the country's children are getting more out of shape. The Department of Agriculture has called it "a national epidemic of overweight and obese children." The American Council on Exercise says that some 40 percent of kids today show at least one heart disease risk factor from high cholesterol, to high blood pressure, to being overweight.  Children who eat a healthy breakfast are less likely to gorge on high fat food later and tend to get more vitamins and minerals, according to the ADA. 

Many experts say it's also important to emphasize foods that fit in with a healthy eating style for life, with the emphasis on being healthy and fit, not just model-thin. 

Set a good example

Of course, children often learn most by example, so it's important for parents to set a good example and have a nutritious breakfast each day too. In addition, weekends can be a time for special family meals. Getting children involved in shopping, preparation and meal planning can set the stage for healthy eating habits throughout their lives.