Healthy Breakfast Helps Kids Start Day Right

Physician Says Morning Meal Helps Students Do Better in School

As parents prepare their children to head back to school, there is one lesson they should not forget: start each day with a healthy breakfast. A well-balanced breakfast provides children with the energy they need to focus on their school work and perform to their best ability, said Michelle Soto, MD, a family medicine physician with ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca.

“When kids skip breakfast, they are tired and irritable,” Dr. Soto said. “All of us, but especially kids, need to fuel our bodies for the day ahead. When kids don’t eat at least something before going off to school, their mood and energy will drop by mid-morning.”

A well-balanced breakfast should be rich in whole grains, fiber and protein while low in added sugar. The combination of fiber and protein will help kids feel full longer and improve their concentration since they will not be thinking about their stomach growling or what they are eating at lunch, Dr. Soto said.

“If you eat a breakfast heavy in sugar, kids will start their day with lots of energy, but they will eventually crash,” she said. “Whole grains are called ‘good carbs’ because they provide energy, but at a more even level so there is less crashing.”

Some good breakfast ideas include:

  • Whole grain cereal with skim milk and a piece of fruit.
  • Whole grain waffles or pancakes topped with fruit. Pair it with a glass of skim milk. Plan ahead and make extra pancakes or waffles on the weekend that kids can warm up in the microwave.
  • Half of a whole wheat bagel topped with peanut butter, a piece of fruit and a cup of skim milk.
  • Hot cereal topped with fruit or nuts.
  • A whole wheat pita stuffed with sliced hardboiled eggs or scrambled eggs.

If your child shows little interest in breakfast, Dr. Soto said there are a few steps you can take:

  • Make sure the child gets up early enough so she is not rushed and has time to eat breakfast. Time is a top reason why some kids skip their morning meal.
  • Provide multiple options. You are not a restaurant, of course, but have at least two choices for kids to pick from, such as cereal made with whole grains, whole wheat toast with peanut butter and waffles or pancakes that can be easily warmed up.
  • Pack a healthy, portable breakfast like an apple or a baggie of whole grain cereal your child can eat on the way to school.

“Even if your child eats a little something, that is better than nothing,” Dr. Soto said. “Also be sure to explain to your child why breakfast is so important and how a healthy breakfast will help them do better and feel better while at school.”

She added it helps when parents set a good example and eat breakfast themselves. “No matter your age or what you do, we all can benefit from starting our day on a healthy start,” Dr. Soto said.

For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,800 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 32 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service. The ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton opened in February 2016. For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.