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Breakfast is brain food for kids. While skipping breakfast is a bad idea for anyone, kids will feel the impact more. They have a higher ratio of brain weight to liver weight, which means that their brains’ overnight demand for glucose more quickly outstrips the supply stored in the liver than it does in adults. Thus, refueling with the right breakfast is vitally important.

Ways breakfast helps kids

  • More energy. Research shows that kids who eat breakfast can accomplish more at school and at play, including sports. The right breakfast can supply your children with more than one-quarter of their daily energy requirement.
  • Greater learning ability. A good breakfast improves concentration, allowing kids to better absorb new information and solve problems and enjoy faster memory recall. Benefits have been specifically found for reading and math.
  • Better behavior. Breakfast eaters attend school more regularly and have more positive interactions with their fellow students and teachers. Hungry kids are more prone to irritability, nervousness, headaches, colds, and ear infections.

What to feed them

  • Cereal choice. Select a whole-grain, high-fiber cereal with low-fat milk and fruit, or make cooked cereal using traditional oats, honey, and cinnamon. Grating a fresh green apple into oats that have been soaking overnight in milk is also delicious.
  • Bread option. Offer whole-grain toast spread with natural peanut butter and topped with a sliced banana or a scrambled egg with baby spinach and mushrooms.
  • On the go. Prepare a fresh fruit smoothie of low-fat milk, a dollop of yogurt, and some wheat germ or bran.
  • Weekend special. For a treat, try homemade pancakes, crepes, or muffins using whole-wheat flour and served with a savory vegetable topping/filling or fresh/canned fruit, honey, and/ or cashew nut cream (rather than ice cream and syrup).

Nutritionist Sue Radd is the award-winning author of The Breakfast Book and coauthor of Eat to Live, internationally acclaimed for showing how savvy eating can combat cancer and heart disease and improve well-being. See for more nutrition information.

Food Matters: Smart Breakfast Ideas for Kids

by Sue Radd
From the October 2010 Signs