Back to School: Eating Breakfast

August 29, 2011 10:10:13 AM PDT
The American Dietetic Association reports that children who eat breakfast have improved concentration, score higher on tests, have better behavior and improved attendance.

Yet, numerous studies suggest that kids and teens skip breakfast more than any other meal of the day! For some, that means going 15 to 17 hours without food. Robin Levy, with the Midwest Dairy Council, has some advice to help families start making breakfast a healthy habit.

  • Be a good role model. Eat breakfast yourself and with your children when possible.
  • Stock-up on grab and go foods. Keep easy-to-serve breakfast foods on hand, such as a cup of yogurt with animal crackers or graham cracker sticks for dunking; and, trail mix, dried fruit, granola bars or fruit-filled breakfast bars with a re-sealable container of milk.
  • Get kids involved. Invite them to brainstorm healthy breakfast choices for the new school year and to help you grocery shop and prepare nutrient-rich recipes, such as an Apple Yogurt Smoothie (

What Midwest Dairy Is Doing
Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school program helping to make wellness part of the game plan in more than 70,000 schools across the country. We want to make kids' health and wellness just as important as the ABCs in America's schools.

Fuel Up to Play 60 was founded by the National Dairy Council and the NFL, in cooperation with USDA. It is supported by several leading health and wellness organizations and aligned with First Lady Michelle Obama's platform, "Let's Move."

The program is unique because it empowers students to take the lead for themselves and their peers to eat healthy, be active and make a difference in their schools.

Fuel Up to Play 60 is a direct response to dairy farmers' concerns that many U.S. children are overweight and undernourished.

To learn more about Fuel Up to Play 60, get nutrition tips and breakfast recipes, visit

Questions & Answers from the Midwest Dairy Council:

Q. Why is breakfast so important?
A simple breakfast at home or school can ensure that your child doesn't start the day hungry. It also ensures that your child has the nutrients and energy he or she needs during the morning to concentrate on learning, think clearly and be on their best behavior.

Q. Can breakfast really help children learn better?
Studies show that a simple breakfast at home or school boosts brain power! The American Dietetic Association reports that children who eat breakfast

  • Have improved concentration
  • Score higher on tests
  • Have better behavior Improved attendance

Q. How does breakfast contribute to a child's health?
Children who don't eat breakfast are less likely to get all of the essential nutrients they need each day to thrive. Eating a nutritious breakfast is a great way for children to be on target to meet their daily needs for key nutrients, like calcium, the bone-building mineral found in milk, cheese or yogurt.

Q. What about sugary breakfast cereals? Aren't those bad for kids?
You do want to be mindful of a child's sugar intake. One way to boost the nutrition is to mix sugary cereals with lower sugar types. Another idea is to add fresh fruit, like sliced bananas or strawberries.

Q. Isn't chocolate milk full of sugar?
Chocolate milk has less sugar glass for glass than soda or juice drinks. In addition, kids love the taste and chocolate milk provides the same nine essential nutrients as white milk.

Q. What if my kids aren't hungry in the morning?
Get the kids ready for school first and by the time they've been up for awhile, they may feel hungry. Or, take advantage of your school's breakfast program. Chances are they will be hungry once they arrive at school.

Q. What if I don't have time to cook?
Focus on grab and go foods -- a carton of yogurt, a cheese stick, bagel and glass of milk. Eat dinner leftovers -- there's no rule that these things can't be eaten for breakfast! Prepare things the night before -- for example, set the table, prepare your recipe or lay out your cereal so all you need to do is pour the milk.

Q. How come I'm hungrier all morning when I eat breakfast?
Add protein to your morning meal. A great way to do that is to drink a glass of milk, eat a carton of yogurt or a piece of string cheese. Spread peanut butter on a slice of toast or English muffin.

Q. Isn't breakfast just for kids?
While it's true that adults can handle hunger better than kids, it doesn't mean eating breakfast isn't important for adults too. One of the most powerful ways to help your child develop a habit, is to model it. If you want your child to eat breakfast so they go to school ready to learn, parents need to eat breakfast too.

Q. What about donuts for breakfast?
To be nutritious, a meal should contain foods based on recommendations from MyPlate. A donut may be okay every once in a while, but definitely not every day. And, if they do have a donut, make sure to have them wash it down with a glass of milk to boost the nutrition!

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