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Feature Articles: Eating Well


Why breakfast?

Janet Hackert, Regional Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension


It is common knowledge that breakfast is the meal that ‘breaks the fast’ after 8-12 hours of not eating through the night. And most have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But then we may ask ourselves, why? What’s the big deal about breakfast?

Eating breakfast helps both adults and children to pay better attention and improves mental performance. People who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to get all the nutrients they need in a day to feel good and be healthy. Eating breakfast can also keep us from overeating later in the day.

The best breakfast is a combination of foods from the milk or meat group, from the fruit or vegetable group and something from the grain group. This mix of food groups also means a mix of nutrients, which release their energy over differing lengths of time. As a result, the breakfast eater’s blood sugar level is sustained at a functional level for several hours, postponing the symptoms of hunger. Breakfast skippers, on the other hand, find themselves getting hungry sooner in their day. Often this is at a time when they do not have access to a variety of healthy foods. Then one of two things can happen: their hunger overwhelms them and they grab whatever is available, say a candy bar from a vending machine; or they put off eating even longer and end up eating more than they really wanted or needed at the next meal.

Eating breakfast is important no matter what time a person starts the day. If there is time for a leisurely sit-down breakfast, that’s great. If not, there are lots of quick and simple ways to break the fast. If breakfast is not your thing, you might start out by trying something simple — a glass of milk, a piece of fruit or a slice of toast. For those who are on-the-go in the morning, a mix of dry cereal, dried fruit, and maybe some nuts or sunflower seeds makes a convenient and portable meal. Peanut butter or cheese on crackers and a piece of fresh fruit or baby carrots makes a handy, portable meal as well. Aim for a variety from each of the food groups and see what you come up with for a nutritious, satisfying breakfast.


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Last update: Monday, August 24, 2015