Healthy breakfast: an essential start to a child’s school day

As children head back to the classroom, make sure you are setting them up for a great start to their school day and year by encouraging them to eat a healthy breakfast each morning.

Research has shown that children who eat a healthy breakfast have better concentration levels, do better in tests, have better behaviour, and are less hyperactive than children who skip breakfast. A healthy breakfast releases energy slowly to keep children going until lunch, and children who eat a healthy breakfast are less likely to snack on sugary snacks at break-time.

The brain is one of the smallest organs in the body. However, it uses up to 20 per cent of the energy we need every day. Eating a breakfast which is high in fibre gives your body a slow release of glucose, keeping a steady supply of energy to the brain, which helps to maintain concentration.

Try some of the following breakfast ideas:

Wholegrain cereals: three dessert spoons of porridge, one to two cereal biscuits like Weetabix or Oatibix, four dessert spoons of Ready Brek, four dessert spoons of flake-type cereal with fortified milk.

Add some fruit to cereals, like strawberries, raspberries, grapes, or banana. Try to avoid giving your child sugary breakfast cereals as these will leave your child hungry and tired half way through the morning.

Wholemeal/wholegrain/granary breads or mini bagels: one slice of wholemeal bread or one mini bagel toasted with chopped bananas/peanut butter/baked beans or one scrambled, boiled, or poached egg. Avoid chocolate spreads. Offer a piece of fruit, such as handful of grapes or strawberries, a small orange or a fun size banana.

For a smoothie, have one banana and one handful of mixed berries and a small pot of yoghurt.

It is important that children take enough fluids during the day to avoid dehydration. Water and milk are the best choices as they are friendly to teeth. Milk provides valuable calcium which is essential for growing bones and teeth. Try fortified milks as these contain vitamin D - essential for calcium absorption.

For more information or for more information on diet and nutrition, contact The Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service on (044 ) 9395518 or email [email protected].

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