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Breakfast! Rise to the Occasion

by Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D., L.D.

In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl, the wildly entertaining children’s author asked: “Do you know what breakfast cereal is made of?”
The answer: “It's made of all those little curly wooden shavings you find in pencil sharpeners!"

Can’t you hear your kids giggling or maybe groaning over that one? You have to admit, the question makes for a jolly good conversation starter around the breakfast table. Where does our cereal come from? What is it made of? Who baked our bread? How many miles did our fruit, milk, eggs, and bacon travel before reaching our stomachs? Suddenly, you’ve assembled a lesson on geography, economics and food science, and your once sleepy breakfast table wakes up to a lively family conversation.

Family meals provide an important opportunity for role modeling, problem solving and creating a sense of belonging and togetherness. It doesn’t matter what time you gather. For busy families with hectic schedules, breakfast may be more doable than dinner, so dig in.

Incentives for being there

Two kinds of people inhabit the earth: early birds and night owls. Those of us who fall into the latter category tend to push the snooze button – repeatedly -- waiting till the very last minute to greet the day. We think skipping breakfast buys us a worthwhile five, ten or 15 minutes more (pleeease) of precious pillow time.

Unfortunately, the extra half-hearted sleep fails to compensate for what we miss in the kitchen -- basically one heck of a nutritional kick start. What’s worse: we don’t compensate for the critical vitamins and minerals skipped at breakfast, later in the day. So when we snooze, we really do lose.

In fact, research consistently shows that breakfast eating is a marker for overall diet quality. (1) Children and adults function better mentally and physically, when we “break the fast” shortly after rising.


1. “Breakfast: A Missed Opportunity,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Vol. 107, Number 4, pages 565-569 (April 2007)

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“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast,” said Pooh.
“What do you say Piglet?” asked Pooh.
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully, “It’s the same thing, he said.”
From A.A. Milne, “The House at Pooh Corner.”

What in the world do people eat for breakfast?

find out

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