Let’s face it: amid our hectic high school schedules, breakfast seems like such an insignificant, minute detail of our jam-packed lives that we continue to put it off. Occasionally, we will be proactive enough to bring a small, sugary snack to eat during brunch, but even this only happens every once in a while.
With a constant influx of tests and homework assignments, breakfast seems to be the least of our worries. Often times, we forget the underlying importance of a piece of bread, an apple and a tall glass of milk at 8 A.M. in the morning. We’ve always heard that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and that we should never forget to eat breakfast. But, really, what makes breakfast so much more important than the other meals of the day?
John L. Ivy, who has a Ph.D in Exercise Physiology, explains the benefits of breakfast because of its drastic impact on performance for the entirety of the day.
“Breakfast is a critical meal because it influences practically every dimension of our being during the course of the day, including how we perform physically and mentally,” Ivy said. After a long night’s sleep and several hours of “fasting,” the body lacks a direct source of energy which breakfast is supposed to compensate for (Why do you think it’s called break-fast?).
By omitting the meal that comes directly after eight hours of food deprivation, many do not provide themselves with the pertinent amount of energy to function optimally throughout the day. This lack of energy further hinders one’s productivity in school by detracting from his or her daily cognitive functions.
“If we fail to replenish our carbohydrate stores during the early morning hours, the resulting low blood glucose levels can adversely affect our ability to concentrate and perform mental tasks,” Ivy said. “Studies have shown that children who eat breakfast perform at a higher level in school and are more physically active than those who skip breakfast.”
Breakfast has been proven to improve student academic activity in multiple areas, supplying students with the necessary energy to perform at their full potential.
“A review of 22 studies related to breakfast consumption and academic performance in children and adolescents suggests that eating breakfast may help children do better in school by improving memory, test grades, school attendance, psychosocial function and mood,” a report released by the International Food Information Council Foundation said.
Even more than that, breakfast also decreases stress levels by lowering the amount of the stress hormone, cortisol, in the bloodstream early in the morning, when it is typically at its peak, ultimately reducing stress levels in students. Overall, breakfast serves as an important fueling source for optimal academic achievement and gives students and adolescents the vital tools to focus and reduce stress.
Another inherent benefit of consuming a sufficient breakfast is the daily intake of necessary nutritional ingredients that are necessary for human health.
According to an analysis written by the International Food Information Council Foundation, “A research review of 47 studies examined the association between breakfast consumption and several health-related factors such as nutritional adequacy in children and adolescents. The review found that breakfast eaters have higher daily intakes of fiber, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, zinc and iron and are more likely to meet nutrient intake recommendations compared to breakfast skippers.”
In order to improve one’s ability to focus on academics and release stress in an easy and convenient manner, students can adopt healthy habits to consume a breakfast without making it a huge burden in the morning.
However, it is crucial to ensure that every morning’s breakfast consists of three main nutrients: a source of whole grain, dairy and fruits or vegetables. From these three categories, one can easily assemble a quick and healthy breakfast with little to no effort.
To ensure that you start of the day right, here are a few simple breakfast options that do not take long to assemble. Grab a granola bar and a bowl of yogurt on your way out of the house and snack on it during brunch. The granola will serve as a perfect source of grain while the yogurt will provide the dairy and calcium that your body requires.
Pop a piece of whole grain bread in the toaster and munch on it on your way out the door; it’s fast, simple, and easy. Pack a container of various fruits the night before so you are ready to go for the next morning. Or, if you are more in the mood for a beverage, blend up a fresh fruit smoothie and drink it on the way to your first period class.
Clearly, there is a variety of simplistic ways to ensure that you start off the day with a nutritious meal. If you learn to ditch the Pop-Tart, cinnamon rolls and bacon for some of these healthier options, you will surely find yourself in a more focused state of mind.