30 January 2018: At this time of year there is always a lot of fuss about packing the Insta-perfect lunch box, but when it comes to improving your child’s grades, research shows breakfast is what counts.
A wealth of scientific research links breakfast with improved brain function and academic performance, including a review of 41 studies that showed eating breakfast was the number one dietary factor linked to better marks.1-3
So to help start the school year off on the right track, Dietitians Association of Australia Spokesperson, Accredited Practising Dietitian and mum of three, Dr Kellie Bilinski has shared her five top tips to make school day brekkies quick, easy and packed with goodness:
A+ brekkie – A good-quality breakfast has been shown to help improve grades for both literacy and numeracy.1-3 It also helps kids to beat the ‘fuzzies’, or poor concentration, that can set in with the mid-morning hunger pangs. A gold star brekkie can be quick and budget friendly, just aim for a breakfast that includes cereal, dairy and fruit. The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data has revealed children that started their day with breakfast cereal had the healthiest diets. 4
Ready, set, go! – For frantic mornings, I like to have a few on-the-go breakfast options at the ready. One of my favourites is a breakfast bento box with dry breakfast cereal, some Greek yoghurt and easy to nibble fruit like grapes, berries and mandarin segments. It’s ideal for kids to munch on in the car or while watching siblings at before school sports practice.
Not hungry, no drama – If your kids aren’t hungry first thing in the morning, it can make brekkie a battle. Cutting out snacks before bedtime can help boost their appetite in the morning. Another solution that I find helps break the morning stalemate, is to shake it up with an all-in-one smoothie. Just blend breakfast cereal, milk and their favourite fruits for a filling shake full of goodness. It’s a great option kids can make themselves and a brekkie that slow sippers can take with them.
Slurp it up – Let’s forget manners for a moment and encourage kids to drink up their cereal milk. Calcium is essential for growing bodies, strong bones and teeth but about half of older primary school children (aged 9-11) are not getting enough. 5 One of the main sources of calcium in Australian children’s diets is the milk they have with cereal, so make sure they empty their cereal bowl.4 You could even add a straw for guaranteed slurping fun.
Avoid the parent trap – All too often the morning rush can become all about getting the kids fed and ready. Try not to fall into the trap of just grabbing a coffee and take five minutes to eat breakfast yourself. It not only sets a great example, but it will also help give you the energy and patience you need to manage the morning rush.
- Burrows T et al (2016) Is there an association between dietary intake and academic achievement: a systematic review. J Hum Nutr Diet. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12407 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jhn.12407/full
- O’Dea JA, Mugridge AC. Nutritional quality of breakfast and physical activity independently predict the literacy and numeracy scores of children after adjusting for socioeconomic status. Health Education Research 2012; 27: 975-985.
- Hoyland A, Dye L, Lawton CL. A systematic review of the effect of breakfast on the cognitive performance of children and adolescents. Nutrition Research Reviews 2009; 22: 220-243.
- Fayet-Moore, F; McConnell, A; Tuck, K; Petocz, P. Breakfast and Breakfast Cereal Choice and Its Impact on Nutrient and Sugar Intakes and Anthropometric Measures among a Nationally Representative Sample of Australian Children and Adolescents. Nutrients. 2017, 9, 1045; doi:10.3390/nu9101045 http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/10/1045