Breakfast for Kids Has Bigger Benefits Than You Think

Breakfast offers more than just nutrition for children. We talked to a Michigan school nutrition expert to discuss the many benefits of this important morning meal.

Do you let your child skip breakfast on a regular basis? If so, you may want to reconsider. It turns out that the morning meal doesn’t just affect your child’s good nutrition. The benefits of breakfast for kids play a role in nearly every aspect of their day.

National School Breakfast Week is March 4 to March 8. What could be a better time to explore how breakfast affects children’s health and educational achievement? 

“Breakfast gives our minds and bodies energy,” says Brianna Henton, Registered Dietitian and Health and Wellness Director for the United Dairy Industry of Michigan. “Eating breakfast helps kids stay engaged and alert, which helps them perform better in every area, including school.”

Nutritional benefits of breakfast for kids

The adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day holds especially true for children. Henton notes that skipping this essential meal can put kids into a nutrient deficit for the day that can add up over time.

“If kids skip breakfast, this is one less opportunity for them to get important daily nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Healthy breakfast foods provide things like calcium, vitamin D, potassium and fiber. Missing breakfast can leave a big nutrient gap.”

Plus, calcium-dense milk and dairy products are vital to children’s bone health.

“Kids’ need for calcium increases as they grow, but unfortunately, as they reach the early teen years, milk consumption goes down,” says Henton. “This can create an even bigger nutritional gap when kids need it most.” She suggests consistently offering kids foods high in calcium and Vitamin D at breakfast time. 

What if your child won’t eat breakfast?

Many kids aren’t hungry in the morning and therein lies the dilemma. If breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day, it’s a no-go if your kids refuse.

Don’t force it, says Henton. Instead, give your child choices. “Pack a healthy snack you know they like for later in the morning, when your child may be more hungry, and make it easy for them to access,” she says.”Or you can rely on breakfast served at school. Breakfast is offered in most schools in Michigan, and it’s free for all public schools this school year.”

Having ready-to-eat healthy foods on hand is a big help, too. Henton suggests offering foods that are nutrient dense and that include protein. “A combination of banana and yogurt or a cheese stick and an apple are easy to grab on the go and they will give your child fiber, protein and vitamins,’ she says. Other fast, easy and nutritious options? Protein muffins, smoothies and hard-boiled eggs.

ways eating breakfast to fuel school performance

Michigan public schools tackle the breakfast challenge

For this school year, Michigan public schools are offering free breakfast to all students regardless of financial need. This ensures that every child has access to balanced meals that offer nutritious options like milk, fruit and whole grains. 

Supporting school nutrition is a big part of what Henton does every day, and for good reason. 

“Eating breakfast is proven to improve a child’s school performance,” she says. “Research links eating breakfast to higher test scores, increased attendance rates and less trips to the school nurse, because kids often confuse symptoms of hunger (stomach ache, dizziness) with illness.”

Another benefit to breakfast consumption is calmer classrooms, says Henton. “When kids aren’t dealing with a growling stomach and their minds are fueled, they can focus, stay in their seats and listen to the teacher. There are fewer distractions and disruptions, which benefits the whole learning experience.”

Breakfast for kids has many benefits but Henton emphasizes that good nutrition has  a ripple effect on children’s health, well-being and even their happiness. “We want happy kids and healthy kids. That starts with breakfast. It boosts their overall nutritional intake and starts their day off on the right foot.”

For more information visit milkmeansmore.org. Metro Parent offers advice on healthy eating for kids here.

Jenny Kales
Jenny Kales
Content editor Jenny Kales has been in the business of writing for more than 20 years. A natural storyteller, she loves helping Metro Parent clients tell their stories in a way that resonates with their audiences.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

LATEST STORIES

This Metro Detroit Duo Just Won HGTV’s ‘Battle on the Beach’

Meet Sam and Sean Kilgore, Richmond's proud parents and recent winners of HGTV's "Battle on the Beach" Season 4.

See the Warren Consolidated Schools 2024-2025 Academic Calendar

Find all the important dates on the Warren Consolidated Schools Academic Calendar.

See the Southgate Community Schools 2024-2025 Academic Calendar

Find all the important dates on the Southgate Community Schools Academic Calendar.



- Advertisement -