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Top 5 Reasons Breakfast Is a Must for Kids

Top 5 Reasons Breakfast Is a Must for Kids

How many times have you heard "breakfast is the most important meal of the day"? Here's why, in terms of small fry. Kids who eat breakfast:

  • Do better in school
  • Have fewer behavioral problems
  • Have better concentration, more energy, and better hand-eye coordination
  • Are more likely to meet their nutritional needs overall
  • Have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight

"Mornings can be hectic in any family, and getting kids -- much less adults -- to eat something can be a challenge. But just look at the payoffs!" says pediatrician Jennifer Trachtenberg, mom of three and proud author of her first book, the new, superuseful Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children.

"So if you can't make the morning meal happen at home, send kids off with healthy on-the-go breakfasts to eat on the way," says Dr. Jen. "The night before, have them help you fill plastic zipper bags with things like nuts, raisins, and Os cereal; orange slices; low-fat granola; cheese and crackers; sliced apple 'sandwich cookies' filled with peanut butter . . . or anything else reasonably healthy that you know they'll eat, whether it's 'breakfast food' or not. A chicken sandwich on whole wheat? Fine." Just aim for three things:

  1. Plenty of fiber and protein - it will keep kids full and energized until lunch.
  2. Minimal sugar - too much can send energy soaring up, and then crashing down, before the morning's half over.
  3. Some healthful fat, especially omega-3s - turns out that kids who eat more of these fats do better on short-term memory tests (and they ace pop quizzes!) than kids who eat more saturated fat (think butter, bacon, sausage, pastries, full-fat milk and cheese).

One easy way to get good omega-3 fats into your kids: Sprinkle walnuts or almonds on their cereal.

Another: Hard-boil a batch of omega-3-enriched eggs, which are widely available. On a high-speed morning, give the kids (yourself, too) an egg and some whole-wheat crackers in a plastic zipper bag. You'll all be good to go till lunch.

There's Nothing Old-Fashioned About Oatmeal
In fact, there's growing evidence that it may be an ideal way to start the school day. Kids who eat oatmeal for breakfast -- versus cold cereal, or nothing at all -- remember things better and pay more attention, which is handy for, say, studying math and geography. Try making it overnight in a slow cooker. One reason may be that oatmeal is digested slowly, supplying the brain with a steady stream of energy. And here's why you should pour a glass of OJ to go with it.

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