Friday, November 12, 2010

Breakfast- the Saving Grace

Breakfast...I remember my mother always telling me it was the most important meal of the day. I never quite understood why, and as I got older I thought it was the perfect way to cut out calories in my diet- totally useless breakfast.  I maintained this thought process until just a few years ago when I learned something about it speeding up metabolism and helping to actually shed weight-sounded good to me - eat more to lose more- fantastic.  The whole idea of it however has remained pretty mysterious to me though, so when I received an invitation to sit in on a media session sponsored by General Mills last weekend discussing the health benefits of eating breakfast-well I was all ears.

The session was led by Mindy Herrmann, MBA, RD, Bruce Barton, PhD, and Susan Crockett, PhD and RD.  These three minds have spent countless hours researching the ideas behind breakfast and tracking studies over time to see the real cause and affect of breakfast on the human body.  Their studies concentrated on the affect on children, and provided some sound support for ensuring that breakfast should be a part of their daily diet.  

As the little frosted mini wheat's in the commercials suggest, there is data that supports that children who eat breakfast behave better in class, perform better on tests and quizzes and have an overall better attitude for school.  I gotta say- those are three great reasons right there- I mean how many 10 year old's do you know that are doing the best they can, paying attention to their teachers and actually want to go to school?  

As great as the performance incentives are, there are some pretty major health incentives as well.  Through the study that Dr. Bruce Barton completed which followed over 2,000 girls for over 10 years in different parts of the country, he found that girls who eat breakfast are at a moderately lower risk for obesity than their breakfast skipping pals. This held true for adults as well.  Further, the study showed that children who skip breakfast are lacking in some pretty vital nutrients such as Vitamin D, Calcium, Potassium and dietary Fiber.  I am sure that it isn't coincidence that these nutrients are found in most breakfast foods.  This is also true for adults.

The forum, yes from General Mills, though it did make sense otherwise, held that eating cereal for breakfast with fruit or fruit juice would sufficiently feed a child for the start of their day, and provide those vital nutrients that we all need in our lives.  Seems pretty easy right?  Have a bowl of cereal each morning, keep yourself focused on the day at hand, and keep yourself full of nutrients.  

I was feeling pretty good about the whole discussion as I sat there, it seemed to make sense, and seemed almost fool proof, until the conversation of school came up.  I remember getting to my bus stop before the sun came up.  I remember standing there, in the cold, thinking about whatever exam I had that day, or whatever social drama was occurring.  It was far too early for me to consider breakfast.  The panel noted that this is the same for many kids today.  The school bus comes at an unforgivably early hour and children just don't have the time to sit down to a breakfast at home.  They also noted that more and more schools are doing away with breakfast at school programs, and are discouraging the idea of kids eating at their desks.  After everything that was discussed this seems like a cruel joke.  It seems as though by eliminating the time for breakfast at school, our school systems are almost harming our kids.  How are we letting this happen?  And even better- how do we stop it?  

I obviously don't have the answers.  It's something I will be thinking about, but in the mean time, the rousing response from the mom's in the room was plastic baggies- apparently those little devils make it easy for kids to take some cereal on the bus and get their nutrients in motion.

So what do you think?  Do you eat breakfast every day?  Any ideas on how to get the schools doing away with the breakfast option to bring it back?


Anonymous said...

I would have to say that I love breakfast. I’m the type of person who could eat a traditional breakfast anytime of the day. I’m also not a morning person either, so mostly breakfast for me would be a banana, bagel, and a coffee. Not the best things, but gets me going. I too was brought up to believe that you need a good breakfast to start your day.
I feel schools today are so overwhelmed with getting so many curriculums jammed in that they forget about the basics needs that kids should have.
Food is fuel for the body without it things don’t run well including learning. I hope schools see this as well, there should be some way to find time to start the day right, with a good breakfast.

Alicia said...

I'm a big fan of breakfast - I'd say it's my favorite meal of the day. But when I was in high school I never ate breakfast - I had lunch as early as 11am at school, so I was never really hungry until then.

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

I eat breakfast every single day! When I work out in the mornings, I used to do so on an empty stomach (then eat a big breakfast post workout). I recently learned that it's best to eat something within 30 mins of waking up, and especially before working out, to have some fuel for energy! Oh and like those moms, I rely a lot on those Ziploc baggies to take some Cheerior or granola for breakfast on the go :)

A Plum By Any Other Name said...

So great meeting you last night! Hopefully I'll see you at more Boston food events. :)

As for breakfast ... as an RD I know the importance of breakfast, but I'm just not a breakfast food kind of gal. My favorite breakfasts tend to be leftovers from the night before ... or a sandwich. I'm the brunch girl that will pass over the pancakes any day for a hamburger. Guilty.

Have a great week!

Delicious Dishings said...

My mom always made us breakfast before school. I now sort of feel like I took that for granted. I guess not everyone's parents get up and do that for them. My little brother is 15 now and my mom still makes him breakfast too. I know we had cereal some mornings too, but my parents always made sure we had a good breakfast before we headed out the door. I know everyone is so busy, but I think it would be great if parents could take a few extra minutes to make sure kids are getting their breakfast. I don't know that I'd call it the school's responsibility.

And also, I want that mini wheat on the commercial. I wish it were real... and the mini wheat dog too. :)

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