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Breakfast: Do I have to?

Fuel your day

Does this sound like your house in the morning?

'Come on, eat your breakfast.'

'I'm not hungry, I'll grab something later.'

'You're not leaving this house without a decent breakfast!'

Why do parents go on (and on!) about breakfast being the most important meal of the day? After all, they seem to manage on just coffee, don't they? You can get through till lunch, right? You can always grab a bag of crisps or a cookie at break-time to keep you going.

Fuel yourself

Actually, there are really good reasons for starting your day with a decent breakfast. The main one is right there in the name: break-fast. It literally means 'breaking the fast'. You haven't eaten since before you went to bed and that's a long time to go without food.

Humans are a bit like cars: you have to put fuel in the tank for a car to work. Well, when we wake up in the morning our bodies are just about running on empty and need a refill. If you don't refuel, you won't get very far! And because kids are really active, a healthy breakfast will power you till lunch and you'll have the energy you need for all that running around.

Brain food

It's not just your body which needs energy, your brain does, too. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to concentrate at school if you've skipped breakfast? You're sleepy, your stomach is rumbling and all you can think of is: 'What's for lunch?'

That's because your brain runs mostly on glucose, a kind of sugar, and it can only get that from food and drink. Experts say kids who have a decent breakfast often do better in class. It makes sense that you'll struggle to listen to your teacher all morning if you've not fed your little grey cells!

Make it easy

We understand mornings can be crazy and not everyone likes eating so early but it's important to get into good breakfast habits as early as possible. It doesn't have to be complicated or take ages to cook or eat. Start off with something simple and quick such as lower sugar/higher fibre cereals like Weetabix topped with banana and semi-skimmed milk or some tangy sweet strawberries and blueberries mixed with your favourite yoghurt. Then when you've got into the habit you can get more adventurous and dig into some of these delicious breakfast ideas!

A word about oats

Oats are little flakes of genius. They're packed with fibre and are good for your heart, not to mention they'll keep you feeling full for ages and give you long-lasting energy. What's brilliant about oats is you can have them hot or cold. You can make something called Bircher muesli the night before by soaking the oats in milk or apple juice, leave it overnight in the fridge and next morning just add whatever you fancy: raisins, grated apple, blueberries, cinnamon, chopped nuts, the list really is endless. Soaking the oats makes them really creamy and delicious and they're easier to digest.

Get cracking with eggs

Another perfect breakfast food; you can have them so many different ways and these protein-packed little ovals will keep you full till lunch! Scrambled takes five minutes and you can add extra goodness with things like tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach or cheese. Boiled eggs can even be made the night before if you're really pushed for time. Have them cold or pop in a bowl, cover with water and microwave for one minute. Add wholemeal toast for a complete meal.

Spread it around

If you're more of a toast muncher, ring the changes with wraps, bagels or muffins (the bread kind). Choose wholegrain versions for extra fibre and vitamins and top with with banana and peanut butter or low-sugar jam (you can't tell the difference, honest!).

Grab and go

If you're really up against the clock, there are loads of make-ahead ideas. How about homemade smoothies? Just blitz yoghurt, fruit and seeds and keep in the fridge till you need it. Homemade muffins or flapjacks are brilliant for instant quick energy. Look for recipes made with oats, wholemeal flour and sweeten with banana, honey, raisins or even carrot! Make them with an adult if you need help; perfect for grabbing on the run and much healthier than sugar-laden cereal bars or so-called 'breakfast biscuits.'

So give breakfast a chance. And don't forget to remind those grown-ups to have a little something too!

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