PCRM Urges Kids to Start Their Day Off With Healthy “Power” Breakfasts
National School Breakfast Week, March 8-12, Highlights Need for “Most Important Meal of the Day” PCRM Recommends 10 Power Breakfasts
WASHINGTON–It is as simple as ABC, says the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: kids who start their day off with a good, healthy “power” breakfast do better in school and are more prepared for the active day that lies ahead – something too many kids and their parents often forget in the early morning rush.
In honor of National School Breakfast Week, March 8-12, PCRM offers its Top Ten Healthy Power Breakfasts for Kids. The list comes complete with easy-to- follow recipes for these scrumptious, healthy, and energy-enhancing breakfasts, ranging from cinnamon raisin French toast to scrambled tofu and berry smoothies.
So why is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Time for a basic lesson in human physiology, says PCRM Nutrition Projects Coordinator, Jennifer Keller, R.D.
“Skipping breakfast means that kids extend their overnight fasting period, “ says Keller. “This leads to a drop in their blood sugar levels, triggering a stress response that interferes with alertness and memory. The result, too often, is a tired, sluggish student who can’t concentrate on his or her schoolwork. It’s a sure recipe for poor performance.”
But not all breakfasts are created equal, she notes. “Power” breakfasts should be packed with complex carbohydrates and fiber, and should include fruits, vegetables and a modest amount (10-15%) of protein from plant sources. Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains, beans, fruit and vegetables and fuel our muscles and brains. Fruits and vegetables are also rich in fiber, Vitamin C, beta-carotenes, and a host of other important nutrients.
The healthiest breakfasts leave out dairy and meat products because these foods are often high in artery-clogging saturated fats and cholesterol. And skip milk altogether. Consumption of cow’s milk has been linked with America’s rising tide of obesity, as well as to anemia, constipation, heart disease, and some cancers. Moreover, many children, particularly Asian and African Americans, Hispanic and Native American kids, cannot digest the dairy sugar lactose. For these kids, milk consumption can bring on painful diarrhea, cramps, flatulence, and bloating.
Keller notes that healthy breakfasts don’t have to take up a lot of time. A bowl of unsweetened cereal with soymilk and a glass of juice will do the trick nicely. Other kid favorites include waffles with raw fruit, whole grain toast with jam and peanut butter, or oatmeal and raisins.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.