Breakfast is often referred to as the most important meal of the day, and this statement rings particularly true for children. Starting the day with a healthy breakfast provides a range of incredibly important benefits for children that can set them up for a productive and successful day. Here are six reasons to ditch the store bought and ultra processed breakfast items and rather serve your kids a well balanced and nutrient dense breakfast made at home.
1. Improved concentration and academic performance
Research has shown that eating a healthy breakfast can improve concentration and academic performance in children. A well balanced breakfast, consisting of clean protein, healthy fat, and nutrient rich carbs provides the brain with the fuel it needs to function properly. Without breakfast, a child may struggle to concentrate and retain information which can impact their academic performance. Eating an ultra processed breakfast often filled with processed sugar and other unfavorable ingredients lead to sugar spikes and crashes and can disrupt concentration. Dozens of studies from as far back as the 1950s have time and time again shown that simply put: children who eat a healthy breakfast perform better academically than children that don’t.
2. Increased energy levels
A healthy breakfast provides children with the energy they need to tackle the day ahead. Children who skip breakfast are likely to feel lethargic and may struggle to participate in physical activities. Providing children with a healthy breakfast can give them the energy they need to be active and engaged throughout the day. Healthy fats are an important piece of a balanced meal for sustaining energy. Include a healthy fat with breakfast like full fat yogurt or nuts or cook your meal in a healthy fat like butter, ghee, unrefined coconut oil, or tallow. These fats are excellent fuel for our brain and body, providing sustained energy until the next meal. Often healthy fats are lacking in common grocery store processed breakfast items.
3. Better weight management
Unfortunately today, we are seeing more and more children that are overweight. This is concerning because it can lead to other diseases down the road. Skipping breakfast has been correlated to lower physical activity and weight gain, and many of the ingredients in conventional, processed breakfast foods like processed sugars and seed oils can contribute to sugar cravings, crashes in energy, and unhealthy weight gain.
Children who eat a healthy breakfast are less likely to be overweight or obese. This is because breakfast provides children with the nutrients and energy they need to maintain a healthy weight. A healthy breakfast provides the lasting energy that allows kids to be active and play. Swapping processed foods out for whole foods means your kids will not be encountering refined sugar and other highly processed ingredients that can contribute to weight gain.
4. Improved mood
Starting the day with a healthy breakfast can improve a child’s mood and reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. This is because breakfast helps to regulate blood sugar levels which can impact mood and emotions. If you have heard the term “hangry,” then you are already familiar with the effects on your mood of being hungry. It is no different in our children. After a night of fasting, it is important to make sure our children have access to a nourishing breakfast to restore glucose levels and to prevent their morning hunger from affecting their mood. Just like healthy fats provide lasting energy to keep our kids moving and playing, they also provide lasting energy to keep mood better regulated.
5. Better overall health
Eating a healthy breakfast can contribute to better overall health in children. A balanced breakfast that includes clean protein, healthy fats, and nutrient rich carbs can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, later in life. Each meal is an opportunity to nourish our children’s bodies. Lunch may be hard to control if your child is at school, but breakfast is a wonderful opportunity to make sure your children are receiving a nourishing meal.
Conventional, highly-processed breakfast foods are low in or totally without essential vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and other micronutrients, so when we choose those foods over whole, nutrient-dense foods, we miss out on a chance to fuel our children’s bodies with the materials they need. Today, most children are deficient in essential vitamins and other micronutrients, which results in delayed growth, weakened immune systems, impaired brain development, and increased risk of future diseases.
A healthy breakfast can also support regular bowel movements by providing dietary fiber in fresh fruits and vegetables and providing a morning routine that the body can count on. Making sure our bodies properly and regularly eliminate waste is a big part of health!Fresh fruit, eggs, yogurt, raw honey, homemade oat bars, chia seed pudding, smoothies, raw milk, and grass fed sausage are excellent parts of a home cooked and nourishing breakfast.
6. Improved socialization
Lastly, breakfast provides an opportunity to connect with our children, even if it is only 10 minutes. Eating breakfast with family or friends can provide children with an opportunity to socialize and interact with others. The power of this type of connection is beyond measure, contributing to improved mental health and wellbeing. Better yet, let your children help you make breakfast on the weekends. The weekends provide a less stressed and more relaxing environment to spend time with your children while preparing a beautiful meal. Have them scramble eggs, mix sourdough, cut up fruit, design a fruit plate and layer a yogurt parfait…. The possibilities are endless!
A healthy breakfast is essential for children’s health, wellbeing, and academic performance. It’s our job as parents and caregivers to make sure that our children are eating a balanced breakfast that includes a variety of nutrients and energy sources. With a healthy breakfast, children can start the day with the energy and focus they need to succeed. Given the endless benefits of a nourishing breakfast, I think that making one for our children each morning is an ultimate act of love. Even if you’re busy, making a healthy breakfast for just a few days a week to start can make a huge difference for your kids.
If you’re not sure where to start with making breakfast at home (or want some new ideas), check out our meal plan and cookbook: Sunny Side Up: A 28-Day Breakfast Meal Plan for Busy Families. It is full of tools and recipes that will make it easy to trade out ultra-processed packaged foods for hearty, nutrient-dense breakfasts that will set your kids up for success with a better mood, stronger focus, improved behavior, and sustained energy. Plus, it’s designed for cooks of all levels.