Power Breakfast?

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Is it dumb to let kids skip the morning meal? Probably.

Remember simpler mornings of not too long ago? Sitting, chatting and nibbling, reading the paper, feeding the baby. That’s so over. Now, parents wake up around 5 a.m. to check e-mail, Facebook and Twitter accounts while kids start with text messages, video games and Facebook. Families literally wrestle for the computer like they used to for the shower. Mom might try getting the kids to eat a decent breakfast, but before you know it, she’s cracking open her laptop, too, and Johnny’s running for the bus with his cold breakfast cereal half eaten. It’s just another crazy school morning in the Internet age.

Only wait a minute.
Combine the recently published study from Chinese and U.S. researchers on Internet addiction disorder and the decline of gray matter in the brain with no breakfast and what have you got? A good argument for listening to Mom and powering down long enough to eat something healthy — especially little Johnny who has a morning of school work ahead of him. After going eight – 10 hours without food, what your child eats is definitely the most important meal of his day.

“The nature of the food we eat affects hormones in profound ways for many hours after a meal,” says David Ludwig, M.D., author of Ending the Food Fight (Houghton Mifflin). What’s best for kids in the morning, Ludwig says, are breakfast foods with a low glycemic index (GI). The term refers to how rapidly carbohydrates affect blood sugar. How to tell if a food has a low glycemic index? A quick rule of thumb: The more processed the food, the higher its GI; the higher a food’s fiber content, the lower its GI. Breakfast, in other words, should be a high-fiber event. This means vegetables and fruits (but not juice — the fiber is in the pulp and skin) and whole grains. For the record, a whole grain is an intact, unrefined grain that retains the bran and germ, its nutrient- and fiber-rich components.

So now what? Prepare the oatmeal or low-fat yogurt and fruit smoothie or whole-wheat bagel with low-fat cream cheese before your kids come into the kitchen — BEFORE you get sucked into the chasm of Internet delight. Teach your kids that what they eat in the morning IS important, and everyone will be better off for it. Oh, and do try instigating a few Internet limits. Remember, everything in moderation is best, anyway.

Susan Day is editor-in-chief of Cincinnati Family Magazine and a mother of four.

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