• Children's Center

    Mayo Clinic Minute: 5 breakfasts for brain power

The first assignment of any school day: Eat breakfast.

"Kids need calories after fasting at night," says Dr. Vandana Bhide, a Mayo Clinic pediatrician. "Studies show that kids who eat breakfast actually learn better than kids who don't."

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So you want to fire up a day of learning?

"Make sure that your child has breakfast before they go to school," says Dr. Bhide, who describes the meal as fuel for learning.

Immediate benefits include a better mood and improved concentration. But, that’s not all.

"Long term, eating breakfast has been shown to decrease the risk of obesity," explains Dr. Bhide.

Serve breakfasts that include both protein and good carbs.

"And, you would prefer to have the carbohydrates that release slowly over time," adds Dr. Bhide.

She says an ideal breakfast is one with a low glycemic index that will slowly and consistently provide glucose to the brain throughout the morning.

"Low glycemic foods that do not cause a spike in blood sugar are better than processed foods that are high in sugar, such as doughnuts, muffins or sugary cereals," Dr. Bhide explains.

She says good morning meal ideas include:

  • A breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, low-fat cheese and vegetables
  • A berry and yogurt parfait topped with low-sugar granola
  • Steel-cut oatmeal with berries
  • A fruit smoothie with low-fat milk and a dash of cinnamon
  • Whole-grain waffles topped with fruit or peanut butter

"As long as you’re not loading up with a lot of syrup or a lot of sugar," Dr. Bhide explains. "Whatever your child likes would be a good option."