September is recognized as National Breakfast Month or “Better Breakfast Month,” a time to recognize the importance of starting the day off with a healthy breakfast. In honor of this designation, Apex Leadership Co. offers some tips for building a better breakfast.

First of all, what’s the deal with breakfast being the most important meal of the day? If students aren’t hungry upon waking, is it okay to send them to school on an empty stomach? While parents shouldn’t feel the need to stuff their kids’ with a giant meal before rushing them off to school, there is research behind the fact that breakfast really is vital to kickstart the day.

According to a report on the National Library of Medicine website, “Children who habitually consume breakfast are more likely to have favorable nutrient intakes including higher intake of dietary fiber, total carbohydrate and lower total fat and cholesterol (Deshmukh-Taskar et al., 2010). Breakfast also makes a large contribution to daily micronutrient intake (Balvin Frantzen et al., 2013). Iron, B vitamins (folate, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12) and Vitamin D are approximately 20–60% higher in children who regularly eat breakfast compared with breakfast skippers (Gibson, 2003). Consuming breakfast can also contribute to maintaining a body mass index (BMI) within the normal range.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports statistics from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that found the percentage of children and adolescents that consumed decreased with age. While 95.8 percent of children ages two to five ate breakfast on a regularly basis, only 72.9 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years did the same.  

The site also states that The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and adolescents consume breakfast for healthier body weights, improved nutrition, better memory, better test scores, and better attention spans.

So for all this betterment, start with a better breakfast! Rather that reaching for frozen waffles or sugar-coated cereal, here are a few easy and nutritious ideas:

Energy Bites

Overnight Oats

Egg Cups

Pre-made Breakfast Burritos

Breakfast Cookies

Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

Homemade Granola or Trail Mix

Baked Oatmeal Bars

Homemade Fruit or Green Smoothie

Sunshine Muffins

Avocado Toast

French Toast Sticks 

Turkey Sausage and Whole Grain or Protein Pancakes

A few of these items can be made ahead of time or the night before, so having and presenting kids with a good healthy breakfast doesn’t have to take too much time out of the usual morning routine.

For kids that are truly anti-breakfast, start slowly with just a few small bites of something easily digestible. This could be as simple as half of a banana or a few apple slices paired with a spoonful of cashew butter. Or consider items that aren’t traditionally served for breakfast such as a piece of string cheese and a handful of almonds.

In the effort to build a better breakfast, parents shouldn’t stress too much if their children aren’t eating breakfast on a consistent basis. Continue to offer healthy kickstart meals and items that are easy to take on the go. Students may not be ready to have something to eat right out of bed, but they be ready by the time they get to school. In this case, putting a few orange slices or a muffin in their backpack to nibble before the first bell rings can help hold them over until lunchtime.