The beginning of the school year is exciting and hectic. Morning minutes skip by as outfits are chosen and book bags are re-checked for daily supplies. Does your child complain that they aren’t hungry in the morning or don’t have time to eat? Breakfast must be a part of your son or daughter’s morning routine. Without the proper fuel to start the day, learning will take a back seat to hunger. Eating a healthy breakfast has been shown to improve academic performance.
The Pro’s of Protein
Eating protein raises the levels of the amino acid called tyrosine, which signals the brain to produce norepinephrine and dopamine. Norepinephrine and dopamine can help promote alertness and balance energy levels. Adequate protein intake is essential for muscle growth, and an important component of your child’s daily diet.
- Set an example. Eat breakfast with your child. As a parent or caregiver it’s extremely important to lead by example. If you ask your child to eat a well-balanced meal while you eat nothing, chances are they will refuse.
- Discuss breakfast choices the night before. If your child knows that you expect them to eat breakfast in the morning, they will be more likely to agree to eat before school.
- Help your child with time management. Offer to wake them up (or set their alarm clock) five to ten minutes earlier so they have time to eat. Most children will not give up “a morning grooming routine” to eat a balanced breakfast so offer on the go options like protein shakes, waffles or bars.
- Offer healthy breakfast options. If your child enjoys eggs, keep hard boiled eggs in the refrigerator and pair it with a slice of whole grain toast and peanut butter for a quick meal. During the colder months hot oatmeal with sliced almonds and banana is a delicious way to start the morning.
- Avoid sugary or low nutrient dense breakfasts such as donuts or cake. If you son or daughter knows that junk food is available in the morning, they will be less likely to agree to healthier options. Studies show that a low-glycemic/higher protein breakfast can significantly improve academic performance.
- Try a non-traditional breakfast. Try chicken with sliced cucumbers or red peppers in the morning for a change. Some children prefer dinner leftovers to typical breakfast fare.
Eating a well balanced breakfast will help your child pay attention in the classroom. A nutritious breakfast may improve cognitive behaviors and reduce frustration levels. Enjoy breakfast with your child and start the day off with a brain boost!
Susan Weiner is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with a successful private practice in New York. She was named the AADE 2015 Diabetes Educator of the Year. Susan is also the award winning co-author of “The Complete Diabetes Organizer: Your Guide to a Less Stressful and More Manageable Diabetes Life“, which she co-authored with Leslie.
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