Is your teenager skipping breakfast? Well, he wouldn’t be the first and he certainly won’t be the last. Unfortunately, many adolescents skip breakfast on a regular basis (some even skip lunch too!), but contrary to what you might think about not eating a meal, it actually does more harm in the long run. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we’ll acknowledge that we completely understand how this habit forms. Growing kids develop different sleep patterns as they mature, and some will simply not be able to naturally get to sleep until late. Mix that with an early start time for many schools, and you’ve got 15 minutes that are worth much more in the form of SLEEP than in the form of some FOOD (at least to them).
Doesn’t Less Food Mean Less Calories?
It is noted that girls are much more likely to skip breakfast than boys during adolescence, most likely as a means of mitigating weight gain, but skipping the first meal of the day isn’t exactly the equivalent of getting an extra workout in your schedule. While eating only two meals per day would be less “calories in,” the reality of the matter is that the behavior stemming from skipping a meal usually results in frequent eating later on in the day. For instance, studies have found that teens who skip both breakfast and lunch tend to come home after school and just eat until they go to bed. The grand total of food is typically more than if they would have simply had 3 separate meals at distinct times of the day. (We hope this helps dispel the myth that our bodies “cling” onto fat in foods when we skip meals; we’ve heard this one plenty).
What If I’m Strict About Eating Only Lunch and Dinner?
This does seem like a viable option, correct? Nope. Teenagers who skip breakfast end up eating more foods with saturated fats than the teens who do eat breakfast. So they still end up with less healthy food intake once it’s all said and done. Don’t let this be your only motivator to get back into the swing of breakfast, though. According to Dr. Marcie Beth Schneider, M.D., children who eat breakfast perform better in school, with higher concentration and energy.
“The most important meal of the day” is also a great opportunity to easily get fiber, calcium, and vitamin D into your diet, since things like whole grains and milk are so commonly part of breakfasts.
Ready to Give Breakfast a Shot?
If you’re having a hard time getting over the mental hurdle of having to cook a bountiful feast like the one shown above, don’t sweat it. Here are some simple suggestions to start your day.
- Fresh fruit
- Dried fruit
- Granola bars
- Dry cereal (just put it in a bag!)