By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia
When it comes to starting the day off, the best breakfast is the one that gets eaten.
“People who skip breakfast miss out on vitamins, minerals and fiber that they need,” said Kelly Bryant, a UGA Cooperative Extension nutrition education specialist. “Breakfast is an easy way to get nutrients such as calcium and vitamin C in your diet. Pick foods from three to five food groups. They don’t have to be traditional breakfast foods.”
A turkey-and-cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread with a half- cup of 100-percent juice provides items from four food groups. An English muffin minipizza with a piece of fruit or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread with a glass of milk covers three food groups.
“Leftovers from the night before are fine,” Bryant said. “Even cold pizza is fine, although it would probably be good to have fruit or juice with it.”
Breakfast is about putting fuel into the body, she said. After eight to 12 hours of fasting while asleep, you need breakfast to help prepare for the day’s activities, especially when you’re a child.
“While nothing can take the place of studying hard, eating a healthful breakfast daily will help give you the edge you need to do these things,” she said. “Research shows that people who eat breakfast daily tend to be better nourished overall than those who do not.”
Breakfast is important for people of all ages. But as children get older, they tend to eat breakfast less often.
“The main reason given for this is that many older children and adolescents feel like they don’t have enough time,” Bryant said. “The second is that many students are concerned about their weight. And sometimes they don’t eat because they’re not hungry.”
Recent research has shown that eating breakfast may help prevent children from becoming overweight. But while eating breakfast is better than going without, Bryant says some foods should be limited.
“Limit foods with increased amounts of added sugar and fats like donuts, pastries and soft drinks,” she said. “Soft drinks, especially for children, crowds out important nutrients they should be getting from milk and juice.
“Look for 100-percent juice,” she said. “If the carton says ‘fruit drink’ or ‘fruit beverage,’ it has little to no juice in it and has added sugar.”
For parents and adults with crazy schedules, Bryant said, it’s best to have easy breakfast foods available.
She suggests keeping whole grain cereal, peanut butter, string cheese, 100-percent juice, bagels, English muffins, yogurt, fruit and low-fat milk on hand.
Add fruit and milk or cheese to a pop tart or toaster strudel, she said. Or try these quick and easy breakfasts:
* Waffle sandwich: Put peanut butter and honey or syrup between two waffles. Add fruit.
* Tortilla roll-ups: Spread peanut butter on a tortilla, top with banana slices and roll it up.
* Bagel minipizza: Top a whole wheat bagel or English muffin with tomato sauce and cheese and pop it in the microwave or toaster oven.
Other quick, healthy options are a bowl of instant oatmeal or some dry cereal paired with yogurt and fruit.
If a drive-through restaurant provides breakfast, choose an egg- and-cheese English muffin over a fried chicken or sausage biscuit. Some places may offer a fruit and yogurt cup, and most offer low-fat milk. And that carton of fruit juice “is a good way to add fruit,” Bryant said.
(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)