We’re all familiar with the saying “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Many people repeat it, but often without further explanation. Some people may quote studies talking about weight-loss, but most people don’t realize other benefits of starting off the day with a good breakfast, especially for students.
These days, the importance of eating healthy food is widely accepted, but consistency is often overlooked. Sometimes a consistent meal schedule can make all the difference in someone’s life. Throughout elementary and high school, almost every student in the United States has to be an early riser, making it even more important for them to be able to start the day off right; a good breakfast is one of the most important components of a good morning routine.
Studies have shown that elementary and high school students use almost half of their total energy output for their brain. It is also important to note that the energy required for the brain to function optimally is in addition to what developing bodies need to grow and remain active. This makes it particularly important for students to start off the day with the nutrients they need from a healthy breakfast. Kids’ (and adults’) metabolisms are active throughout the day, so it’s important to have meals spaced out at intervals to ensure that the body has energy when it needs it. Trying to compensate with bigger lunches or dinners can’t always achieve the same result, because the body can only handle certain amounts of food at a time efficiently. A particular number of calories can have a radically different effect on the body, depending on the time of the meal.
Breakfast is no exception to this rule, meaning its timing is crucial. Blood sugar drops overnight due to the lack of food. Breakfast provides the glucose that the body needs to start creating energy to get through the day. When students start the day without anything to eat, they are starting with low blood sugar. Blood sugar levels continue to drop until lunchtime, making the first half of the school day unnecessarily difficult for the brain. By eating a healthy breakfast before school, students can raise their blood sugar to a healthy level, which provides them with the energy they need to perform well in morning classes.
In addition to the science of blood sugar and the timing of meals, eating breakfast can have other positive effects on a student’s day. Research has shown that students who start the day with a healthy breakfast tend to have better concentration than students who skip breakfast. By going into school already charged up, students can focus on the tasks at hand better and are less likely to become distracted by outside influences. They are able to understand what is being taught more easily and retain that new information better than students who are hungry and/or tired from not having had breakfast.
This improved concentration has measurable results when it comes to core subjects such as math, reading, and science. A study published in the Journal of Economics found that schools that offered free breakfast to students before classes had average scores about 25% higher on math, reading and science tests than schools that didn’t serve breakfast.
While knowing this may help some people recognize the importance of starting the day off right, eating breakfast before school starts is sometimes easier said than done. Mornings can be the most hectic time of the day, as parents and children alike scramble to find their belongings and get out the door. Sometimes breakfast gets lost in the shuffle of a busy morning routine. This is where planning ahead is your best friend.
The goal is to make breakfast easy. Humans tend to follow the path of least resistance. Make the pathway to a healthy breakfast a routine. Keeping a supply of healthy whole grain cereals, nuts, and fruit, as well as things like bread for toast and juice is a great way to make sure the right materials for a healthy breakfast are easily accessible. This can not only prevent skipping breakfast because there’s nothing around, but it also ensures that breakfast consists of healthy, nutritious food, instead of junk food that can be bad for students as it causes them to crash later in the day from overloading on sugar when they first wake up.
Sometimes, what may seem like a small detail at the beginning of the day can make a world of difference.
What are your favorite ideas for a healthy breakfast? Share in the comments section below.
To read more about the benefits of a healthy breakfast, check out these links: