As I begin my twenty-fifth year in adult education through my job as an Extension Educator I feel blessed to enjoy the variety of each day. While most of my programming is directed toward adults, I also enjoy contact with children of all ages. Nothing pleases me more than sharing nutrition information with a young person and then meeting up with them again and have them say, “Hey, I remember you; you told us to eat more vegetables, whole grains, or drink less soda...” Encouraging people of all ages to make healthy food choices is becoming a huge part of my job and I love it!
One of the most important messages I like to share at this time of year is to “Eat breakfast every day.” If your summer schedule was a bit lax, take the next few days to get back on track. As kids start back to school they need to start each day with some nutritious food in their stomachs. It’s really brain food. Countless studies have shown that kids perform better in school, and are less irritable, when their day starts with breakfast.
There is no doubt about it: our bodies need to refuel after not eating for 10-12 hours. So why is it that breakfast is the meal most often skipped? The most common answers I hear are that “there isn’t time” or “my kids aren’t hungry in the morning.” Adults may even use the excuse that eating breakfast adds too many calories to their daily intake. Nothing could be further from the truth. Studies show that people who include breakfast eat 100 fewer calories a day than people who do not. Over the course of a year this habit can actually help you lose up to ten pounds. There seem to be several ways that eating breakfast affects weight. Breakfast consumption reduces hunger later in the day, making it easier to avoid overeating. The extended fast experienced when breakfast is skipped can increase the body’s insulin response, which in turn increases fat storage and weight gain. Plus, skipping breakfast is associated with decreased physical activity.
As you plan to start each day with breakfast, keep in mind the following tips. Breakfast does not have to be a big meal. Try to include something from the grain group as well as a fruit. Breakfast does not have to be traditional. Be creative; nutritious foods are healthy any time of the day. Last night’s leftovers can be reheated in a hurry. Peanut butter can be spread on a piece of whole grain toast and served with a glass of 100% fruit juice. Equal amounts of juice, milk and yogurt can be combined for a smoothie like treat.
Get your day off to a great start and be a breakfast eater! For some fun breakfast recipes that kids can make visit the Kids a Cookin’ web site: www.kidsacookin.ksu.edu
Donna Krug is the Family and Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research and Extension, Barton County. She may be reached at (620)793-1910 or firstname.lastname@example.org