Now that summer is over, your family is starting to get back into the school-year routine. The new schedule is taking hold and everyone is geared up for a great year. That means now’s the perfect time to get in the habit of a healthy breakfast.
“Just like a good night’s sleep, eating breakfast is essential to equip your student for success at school,” says Aramark Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Abby Read. We asked Abby how—and why—children of all ages should kick-start their day with a nutritious breakfast. We also share recipe inspiration from our chefs for every day of the week.
First, a crash course in what makes breakfast the most important meal of the day. It might surprise you to learn that children, teens and young adults skip breakfast more than any other meal. The problem multiplies when they don’t make up for those nutrients with lunch or dinner.
“Skipping breakfast means your student starts their day off with a deficit,” explains Abby (pictured). “They’re missing out on important vitamins and minerals they need.”
Breakfast literally means “breaking fast”—that is, the time you go without eating during the night, which for many people can be up to 12 hours. “We need calories in the morning to stimulate both our physical energy and brain power—even if we don’t feel hungry at first,” Abby emphasizes.
Another thing to keep in mind: Eating breakfast helps with classroom concentration. “As adults, we can usually hold off on eating and power through the day,” says Abby. “Children aren’t able to do that. Hunger has a much greater effect on their behavior. Sometimes when a student is acting out, they may just be hungry.”
The key takeaway for moms, dads and caregivers: Breakfast gets young bodies and brains moving. It’s important for so many reasons, and it’s definitely worth making time for!
YOUR BREAKFAST MENU—SOLVED
A well-rounded breakfast calls for a combo of carbs (the brain’s preferred energy source) and protein for sustained energy. Include nutrients like fiber and calcium, Abby says, and your student will be set for the day ahead as well as their overall health.
Here are five tasty options to last you all week long. Bonus: They are quick and easy to prepare, saving you precious minutes in the A.M.
Monday: Fuel their spirits and their bodies with Blueberry Overnight Chia Oats.
Why We Love It: As a whole grain, oats contain a wealth of vitamins. The powerhouse B vitamins, for example, support immune health and energy levels to help fend against back-to-school sicknesses.
Tuesday: Try this simple (and healthy) Breezy Banana Strawberry Smoothie.
Why We Love It: The strawberries are high in fiber to keep blood sugar levels steady. Add milk (low-fat, skim or soy) for protein to keep those busy bodies going strong. Want to boost the nutrition even more? Throw in a handful of spinach and a tablespoon of flaxseed meal, Abby suggests.
Wednesday: Warm them up with a healthy, protein-packed Sheet Pan Breakfast with Avocados.
Why We Love It: Sheet pan meals are not just for dinner! Eggs are another great source of protein, which helps build and repair muscle tissue after sports and other activities.
Thursday: Nutty, sweet and fun to eat, a Banana “Sushi” Roll really hits the spot!
Why We Love It: It’s as easy as it sounds: Spread the nut or seed butter of your choice on a whole wheat tortilla, add a banana and a drizzle of honey (opt.), and then roll it up and slice! The nut or seed butter’s mix of healthy fats and protein will fuel them until the lunch bell rings. This treat is also a good alternative to baked goods, Abby points out.
Friday: Our Overnight Apple N’ Oats are a fresh take on breakfast to round out the week. Just grab and go!
Why We Love It: Greek yogurt contains calcium to promote bone growth and strong teeth, and it has twice the protein of regular yogurt.
A BREAKFAST TO BRAG ABOUT
Keep things interesting by customizing these recipes to meet your family’s tastes—and introduce new options, too. In fact, some of our favorite snacks make great breakfast ideas, and vice versa! “Breakfast is an often-overlooked opportunity to introduce new foods,” Abby hints.
Mornings will be better than ever—and their school days will be that much more productive.
For more healthy (and quick!) breakfast ideas for students of all ages, check out our recipe section.
Note: Since everyone’s health history and nutritional needs are so different, please make sure that you talk with your doctor and a registered dietitian to get advice about the diet and exercise plan that‘s right for you.