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Ask Dr. Sears: Brainy Breakfasts

Q. Why is it important that I feed my child breakfast, since he eats plenty for lunch and dinner?

A.
Because breakfast is the most important meal and sets the nutritional tone for the rest of the day. After a night of not eating, blood sugar plummets, depriving the brain of fuel and throwing neurochemicals out of balance. Then, to make up for the low blood sugar, the body tries to tap into energy stores by releasing stress hormones. If a child doesn't refuel with a healthy breakfast, all this can make him cranky and unable to concentrate. What's more, people who skip breakfast are more likely to crave sugar the rest of the day, which leads to erratic eating habits and bingeing.

What to serve? The best breakfasts contain a balance of complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and a bit of healthy fat (especially omega-3s). This combination allows for the slow release of sugar into the bloodstream, providing energy all morning long. Some of my family's favorites:

 

  • A cheese omelet, a bran muffin, and a piece of fruit

     

  • Frozen whole-wheat waffles topped with berries and low-fat yogurt

     

  • A bagel pizza and a sliced apple

     

  • A peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich or leftovers from last night's dinner -- anything that's healthy

    If your household resembles mine during the morning rush and you don't have the time for a sit-down breakfast, try a nutritious smoothie: Just throw juice, yogurt, or milk; flaxseed oil; and a banana and some other fruit into a blender for a delicious meal on the go.

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