Breakfast is basically the first meal of the day. It is also the first meal that you will be providing your body with after an eight-hour (or longer) fast since your last meal before you went to bed. It is the most important meal of the day as it helps get the body ready for the rest of the day.
Benefits of breakfast
Eating breakfast makes it more likely that school-going children will have better concentration, attention and more energy.
In recent reviews of breakfast consumption among students, it was found that eating breakfast could reduce absence from classes thus improving attendance rates.
In terms of health, children who regularly take breakfast tend to have better overall health, especially if they are provided with a healthy breakfast. It is a great opportunity to provide your child with nutrients that he may not be getting enough of throughout the day. It also ensures that they get more vitamins and minerals than what they can get from just lunch and dinner. For example, a simple breakfast of cereals with milk gives your child:
- Fibre, which promotes bowel movement and also reduces the risk of obesity as it makes him feel full and eat less.
- Milk, which is rich in many nutrients important for a growing child.
Easier to skip – but not wise
Too often, mornings are a rushed affair with you rushing to get ready for work while at the same time, making sure that your child gets ready as well. This often leaves you with little or no time to prepare breakfast. However, the important thing is to make every effort to ensure that both you and your family eat breakfast.
Breakfast is not something that should be ignored, yet the findings of a locally conducted study show some troubling facts – 1 in 4 Malaysian schoolchildren skip breakfast at least three times a week, and breakfast skippers were 1.34 times more like to become overweight or obese. Not all adults regularly consume breakfast either, as indicated in another survey which found that 1 in 10 adults skipped breakfast.
If you fall into this category, don’t despair! Just continue reading to learn more about what you can do to overcome this problem.
Beating the excuses for skipping breakfast
Listed below are some common excuses for skipping breakfast and tips on how you can overcome them:
- I only have minutes to get ready! –or– I don’t have time to cook in the morning
A few minutes are enough to have a bowl of whole grain cereals with milk and fruit chunks. You can prepare it the night before – place the bowls and spoons on the table, cut the fruits and store in the fridge. In the morning, just pour the cereal into the bowl, mix in the fruits and milk, and it’s ready to eat! Alternatively, you can just prepare your breakfast the night before and just reheat the next morning
- Can’t stop for breakfast –or– I have an urgent meeting! –or– I have to leave for work early!
Grab something that you can eat on-the-go such as single-serve foods/drinks, e.g. high-fibre crackers and a box of UHT malted drink/milk. Alternatively, you can always grab some fruits instead such as an apple, banana, or pear. You could also prepare a simple sandwich the night before (e.g. wholemeal bread with tuna spread).
- It’s too early for breakfast –or– I’m not hungry yet
You don’t have to eat breakfast within the hour after waking up, just make sure you do eat something to fuel your body for the hectic day ahead. Just eat a slice of wholemeal bread and a glass of malt drink/milk to start and a healthy mid-morning snack later if you’re hungry. Alternatively, you can drink your breakfast instead! Try a healthy smoothie by blending yoghurt and banana with milk and some ice.
- I’m on a diet so I’m skipping breakfast
Eating breakfast actually helps with weight loss or weight control as it helps prevent food cravings and overeating during the day. You can always opt for a low-fat breakfast consisting of a hardboiled egg and wholemeal bread plus some fruit (e.g. slice of papaya or an apple).
Remember that you have to prioritise breakfast in your home! Even if it is not possible for the whole family to eat breakfast together, you should still prepare something for your child. If there’s not enough time for him to eat at home, you can always prepare some ready-to-go breakfast foods instead. Healthy options include ready-to-drink milk/yogurt, cereal, breakfast bars and fresh fruit.
Possible ill effects of skipping breakfast
While eating breakfast has plenty of benefits, what could possibly go wrong if you skip it habitually? Well, there are several problems that breakfast skippers may have to contend with, namely:
- a possible negative impact on your child’s academic performance, e.g. poor attention in school, higher absenteeism rate.
- greater tendency to snacking on high calorie foods, may lead to excessive weight gain.