Have you eaten your breakfast today?

Have you eaten your breakfast today?


Have you eaten your breakfast today?

POOR CHOICE Missing breakfast can lead one to snack on salty, oily food during the mid-morning hours.

Would you believe it if I told you that you’d score more in a memory test had you eaten breakfast? Well, when you read this article, you will know why. Apart from providing you with energy, a healthy breakfast gives you many other benefits. The very term, ‘breakfast’, leads you to guess its benefits. It is considered an important meal because it breaks the overnight fasting period, replenishes your supply of glucose and provides essential nutrients that keep your energy levels up throughout the day.

The stress of modern living is reflected in many aspects of our life, including our changing food habits. Although breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day, in the midst of the morning rush to get ready and go out out of the house as many as 33 per cent of us do not eat a proper breakfast.

Children prefer to miss breakfast rather than the school bus, while figure-conscious teenagers and busy adults find it easy to skip this meal altogether. They claim there is not enough time in the mornings and there are no readily available breakfast foods in the house. They’d rather spend the extra time grabbing a few more minutes of sleep than making and eating something nutritious.

The mental capacity of an individual encompasses a wide range of neural functions and includes the ability to think, reason, remember and attend to information effectively. The idea that nutrition can affect these cognitive processes has gained acceptance. So, whether you are heading for school, college or office and want your brain to be in top form, breakfast is a must.

Eating breakfast influences the processes involved in the formation and retrieval of memory and in managing complex or challenging information.

Breakfast helps learning as you will be able to pay attention to what is being taught in class or discussed at work. Studies have shown that eating breakfast improves performance in academic tasks during the mid-morning hours.

Children who ate breakfast scored significantly on mental performance tasks like alertness and memory tests. They  achieved higher scores, paid closer attention, participated more actively in class discussions, and managed more complex academic problems than those who had skipped breakfast.

When the same children had not eaten breakfast , they made more mistakes on a matching task in memory tests and in arithmetic during the mid-morning hours. Kids who missed breakfast were more likely to be inattentive and sluggish.

Adults who missed breakfast were found to perform more poorly in tests of scholastic achievement than those who had something to eat before undertaking the same tasks.

Benefits of breakfast

*A healthy breakfast can reduce risks of illness. It has been shown that people who eat breakfast have more balanced diets than those who skip this meal. People who miss breakfast are usually very hungry by lunchtime and tend to overeat to compensate. There is evidence that large meals are more likely to lead to weight gain than smaller, more frequent meals.

* A healthy breakfast provides essential nutrients. It provides a significant proportion of the day’s total energy and nutrient intake. Children who skip breakfast may lack sufficient vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, zinc and Vitamin B2.  Many breakfast cereals and juices are fortified with nutrients such as iron, Vitamin B and fibre. However, essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients can only be gained from food. So, even though your body can find enough energy to make it to the next meal, you need to top up your vitamin and mineral levels to maintain health and vitality.

*People who have breakfast also have better eating habits as they are less likely to be hungry for snacks during the day.  On the other hand, missing breakfast may lead you to snack on less healthy foods later in the morning. This can be a problem if those snacks are low in fibre, vitamins and minerals but high in fat and salt. Without the extra energy that breakfast offers, some people who skip breakfast feel tired and turn to cups of  tea or coffee to get them through the morning.

*One of the immediate benefits of eating  breakfast is that it results in improved performance in academic  tasks, better concentration and a better mood in the mid-morning hours. On the other hand, missing breakfast can diminish performance in scholastic tasks in children.    

An ideal breakfast

It has been shown that not having breakfast may have more harmful effects in children than in adults because growing children have proportionately greater nutrient and energy requirements.

An ideal breakfast for youngsters should contain both complex carbohydrates and proteins. For instance, a glass of milk  along with some cereal. 

School children are more likely to eat breakfast if easy-to-prepare breakfast foods are readily available at home. Some quick suggestions include:

*Traditional favourites like upma, poha, idli, dosa
* Plain or stuffed parathas
* Fresh fruits or fruit juice
* Oatmeal, dalia or wholegrain breakfast cereals with milk
* Eggs as they can be quickly prepared in many ways  
* Wholewheat  bread  as toast or sandwiches.

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