Breakfast is essential for success at school (and also very important for how adults perform at work). Kids who regularly eat breakfast tend to have a greater ability to focus on tasks, better classroom behavior, and improved test scores.
When you skip breakfast, your brain does not have the fuel it needs to learn new information or concentrate on complex tasks. If your family's morning schedule is sometimes too complicated for a sit-down breakfast, plan to get one on the go.
When you need breakfast on the run, a little planning can save both time and money. By planning ahead, you can skip the fast food drive-thru or convenience store stop — and make sure that your family has the high-octane nutrition they need to succeed.
Breakfast in the car: Bring breakfast from home for better nutrition and less money. While not all breakfast foods travel well, there are plenty of delicious options.
Breakfast at school: Many schools have great breakfast programs. Cost is minimal (free for eligible families) and the convenience is awesome. Ask about it at your school.
Breakfast at your desk: A mid-a.m. desk-fast may be an option for adults and teens who don't like to eat first thing. Plan to use items that travel well in a backpack.
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Whole grains: Whole grains are the best a.m. choices for high-octane carbohydrate energy. Easy-to-carry choices include: multi-grain bagels, oatmeal-fruit muffins, trail mix made with a whole grain cold cereal, or a favorite sandwich on whole grain bread.
Calcium-rich foods and drinks: Most young people (and many adults) are not meeting calcium needs. Low-fat/fat-free dairy foods in the morning (milk, yogurt, and cheese) can provide one of your 3-Every-Day. String cheese is perfect for eating on the run.
Colorful fruits: While veggies are for breakfast too, most of us are more likely to eat fruit in the morning. Fortunately, fruit — the original fast food — travels well, especially dried fruit (by itself or in trail mix) and pre-sliced (for convenience) apples, pears, and oranges.
You can have a power breakfast anywhere — at home, in the car, at school, or even at your desk. The key is to have a balanced breakfast every day, so that your brain is properly fueled for learning and living.
For more fun, easy tips on healthy living, go to www.eatrightmontana.org/eatrighthealthyfamilies.htm
Registered dietitian Dayle Hayes is a consultant to school districts and other groups across the U.S. and is co-chair of Billings Action for Healthy Kids.