& Joannie Dobbs Wednesday,
September 3, 1997
Breakfast for a good start to day
For many in Hawaii , life has just gotten a little more hectic. The “lazy days of summer” have been replaced with getting the children to school and ourselves to work. This in itself is a substantial task even without adding breakfast to our morning list.
The Information Age has changed our lifestyles and activity patterns dramatically. We sit more hours of the day (in cars, at desks, in front of computers and televisions) and are less physically active than prior generations. But what we eat and when we eat is as important today as it was a few decades ago.
In the “old days,” life consisted of hard physical work. Quick and easy foods caught on the way to work or school have replaced the traditional sit-down breakfast. And in many cases convenience has replaced good nutrition.
Even though you may not be heading to cut cane all day, there are many benefits associated with eating the right breakfast. Some benefits are short-term and others are long-term. The most important short-term effect of eating breakfast is related to brain functioning and learning abilities. Studies show that skipping breakfast can actually affect memory. Breakfast increases the speed and accuracy of recalling information. These skills are required for doing well on tests in school or functioning well in most jobs today. Other studies support the benefits of eating breakfast by showing that children stayed focused better after eating breakfast than if the meal was skipped.
In addition to the short-term effects, studies show that there are many long-term health benefits of eating breakfast.
1. Breakfast helps to develop good eating habits for long-term health. Even finicky toddlers generally eat breakfast with gusto. A similar tendency seems to exist in growing children. An opportunity like this shouldn't be missed.
2. Breakfast will help supply the energy necessary to be physically active. And being physically active and exercising is part of a healthy lifestyle. A readily available supply of energy is especially important to the performance of athletes of all ages.
3. Staying fit and thin may begin with breakfast. Children who skip breakfast tend to be heavier in weight for their age. Overweight children, as well as overweight adults, are more likely to consume two meals a day rather than three. Breakfast is the meal most likely to be skipped. Although skipping breakfast, may not necessarily cause obesity, it clearly does not prevent obesity either.
4. Teenage pregnancy usually is not addressed until necessary. However, the health of the baby and the teen-age mother may depend upon the nutritional status of the teen-ager before she gets pregnant. A good breakfast helps to fulfill nutrient requirements.
Are all breakfasts created equal? No. Is there any perfect breakfast? Probably not. Is there any way of meeting our nutrient needs when there isn't time to sit down and eat a bowl of cereal? Absolutely!
To get a good start at meeting the daily nutrients required, it is recommended that one-fourth of the day's calories be eaten at breakfast. Simply fresh fruit or juice along with grain products, milk or yogurt can make a quick and balanced breakfast. For example, when bananas are plentiful, make up graham cracker-banana sandwiches and freeze them. Then in the morning this fruit snack with a glass of milk is quicker than a pop-tart. It can be eaten almost immediately, and will provide the energy need for both mental and physical work.
Alan Titchenal, Ph.D., C.N.S. and Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S.
are nutritionists in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences,
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, UH-Manoa.
Dr. Dobbs also works with the University Health Service
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Human Nutrition, Food & Animal Sciences · University of Hawai`i at Mānoa
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