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By Pat Kendall, Ph.D., R.D.
Food Science and Human Nutrition Specialist
Colorado State University Cooperative Extension
September 2, 1998
There's no better time to examine breakfast eating habits than at the beginning of the school year. In fact, September has been designated as "Better Breakfast Month."
Studies show that children and adult students who eat breakfast do more and better work in school than those who skip it. In contrast, those who skip breakfast tend to tire more quickly, be more irritable, and react less quickly than those who eat breakfast. Because many of the basic subjects are taught before noon, breakfast is an important meal.
The reasons for skipping breakfast are many. Those most frequently heard include: "There isn't time," "Food that early makes me sick," "I don't like breakfast foods," and "I'm skipping breakfast for weight control."
Mostly these are just excuses. Breakfast doesn't have to take a lot of time. It can be simple or elaborate, cooked or uncooked, eaten sitting down or on- the-run, low or high in calories, mundane or varied. The main thing is to make it part of your morning routine.
Breakfast can be just about anything, from last night's leftover pizza to a peanut butter sandwich to cereal and milk. For the person on the run, a blended smoothee--milk, ice cream and fruit or juice--might hit the spot. If this doesn't appeal, there's always peanut butter, granola or oatmeal cookies. When served with milk, these provide needed energy for kids on the go. Grapes, apples, bananas, hunks of cheese, cartons of yogurt and hard-cooked eggs are other quick and easy on-the-go breakfast ideas. When planning breakfast remember "bread-fruit-milk"--the basic components of a nutritious breakfast.
Saving calories is another common reason people give for skipping breakfast. If your typical breakfast is a couple of donuts and coffee with two teaspoons of sugar, you have good reason to be concerned about the value of the calories you take in. However, the answer is not to skip breakfast, but to select a breakfast that provides nutrients with the fewest calories. For example, a breakfast with 8 ounces of fat-free milk, 1 ounce of dry cereal or toast, and 6 ounces of fruit juice has fewer than 250 calories. Yet it packs enough energy, protein, vitamins and minerals to help you avoid mid-morning fatigue and the subsequent urge to eat anything in sight.
In short, a good nutritious breakfast need not include typical breakfast foods, but eating breakfast is a good habit to start off the school day.
Colorado State University Cooperative Extension - www.ext.colostate.edu/
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