Eating a Healthy Breakfast is Connected to Good Academic Performance

The beginning of a new school year is always challenging for parents and children.  We parents usually have different concerns than our children as we center our attention on how to assist them with doing well in all aspects of school.  Yet, we share with them the goal of good academic performance.  Science has shown that a child who starts the day with a good breakfast is already leaps ahead in performing well in school.

According to an online article on the website for the National Center for Biotechnical Information/National Institutes of Health, the importance of a healthy breakfast cannot be overstated yet it is the most frequently skipped meal, with 20% to 30% of children skipping it.

Studies “generally demonstrate that eating breakfast has a positive effect on children's cognitive performance, particularly in the domains of memory and attention.” Children who eat breakfast have an increase in cognitive performance, meaning an increase in attention skills so that they can perform their lessons well. This also translates to an ability to attend school regularly and remember information that is taught.  Additionally, their behavior in class is dramatically affected because they can concentrate better and perform the necessary tasks.

It is important for us to understand that children’s brains are developing and are different than those of adults.  The article points out that children have a higher brain glucose metabolism than adults.  “To maintain this higher metabolic rate, a continuous supply of energy derived from glucose is needed, hence breakfast consumption may be vital in providing adequate energy for the morning.”

Not only does breakfast assist a child academically, but it also helps the child to maintain proper body weight.  Children who skip are more likely to be overweight and not eat healthy snacks or satisfy the recommended daily vegetable and fruit intake.  Not surprising is the connection between skipping breakfast and “risky behaviors” such as smoking and experimenting with alcohol and drugs.

Plan for healthy breakfasts ahead of time.  Make them easy and fun.  There are plenty of books and online articles with suggested recipes.  Give your children the important start for their school day and help them reach their goals of academic success.

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Tweak Family Recipes to Make Them Healthier

Many of us have family recipes from grandparents, uncles, aunts or other relatives that have become family traditions.  Unfortunately, most are filled with unhealthy ingredients – lots of oil, butter or sugar, just to name a few.  Preserving these recipes are, nevertheless, important for us as part of our family heritage.  I have written before about having children assist with cooking meals to encourage more family bonding time and as well as for them to read more as they learn to follow written recipes.  Today, I would like to discuss teaching your children healthier options for recipes as part of your family cooking experiences.

On his website, Dr. Joseph Galati, founder of Your Health First Education, a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to provide education and support to the public about nutrition, has an article Tweaking Grandma’s Recipes: Healthy Substitutes, which has many suggestions for substitutions.  For butter, oil and margarine in recipes that involve baking, he recommends using applesauce or mashed fruit. For frying, grilling or sautéing, he recommends substituting one-half with olive oil or coconut oil.  For regular sugar, try substituting one-half with locally sourced honey.  For brown sugar, he suggests adding 1 tablespoon of maple syrup to the honey.  For mayonnaise in recipes, substitute plain yogurt.  On a sandwich, try pesto or drizzles of olive oil.  Dr. Galati has many more recommendations and I encourage you to read his entire article.

Traditional family meals bring families together to continue bonding and building life-long friendships.  Substituting more healthy ingredients will keep these traditions alive and be teachable moments for your children.  

To read more, CLICK HERE.

Be Sure to Have Your Children Vaccinated in Time for the Coming School Year

Are your children up to date with their vaccinations? As the new school year is about to begin, it is critical for us as parents to make sure that our children have the required vaccinations.  We should prepare them for that day as well.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has established five important reasons for children to be vaccinated as follows:

1.    Immunizations can save your child’s life;

2.    Vaccinations are very safe and effective;

3.    Immunizations protect others whom you care about;

4.    Immunizations can save your family time and money; and

5.    Immunization protects future generations.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention also has a website page with information that will assist parents with preparing their children for vaccination day.   It suggests to pack a book or a toy for a young child to comfort him.  With older children, speak to them about the importance of vaccinations and be honest with them, letting them know that shots do sting a bit, but only for a while. 

Please do prepare your children for that visit.  I remember one visit with my youngest son James when he was about 5 years old.  My late husband and I took him to the pediatrician for his usual annual checkup before school started but unfortunately, we did not prepare him for the visit.  Unbeknownst to any of us, he had to get not just one, but several shots during that visit.  After the first shot, James jumped off the examination table and ran and hid under the doctor’s desk, crying.   We all finally made it through the rest of the shots, but it was truly an ordeal.  Needless to say, that was the most memorable visit to the doctor that we ever had with him!

The bottom line is that vaccinations are crucial for your children’s good health and must not be overlooked.  Planning and preparing for that day will help everyone to get through it.

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Singing Helps Your Children’s Development

(Photo of the children’s group Lake Norman Singers)

After recently reading a newspaper article about how singing is beneficial for adults, I thought that it must have many more benefits for children.  I did some research and this week’s blog is about just that.   Children love to sing and singing helps their intellectual and emotional development in many different ways.

The advantages of having children sing are explained: 

  1. Singing helps a child improve his vocabulary by learning new words.  Experts say that parents should start from when the child is very young, as singing nursery rhymes and simple songs can be a foundation upon which words are built.

  2. For young children, it helps them learn to communicate by exercising lip and tongue movement.

  3. It helps develop the “memory muscle” – when your child is learning a song, tunes and words are being embedded in your child’s mind.

  4. It helps develop creativity.  Your child can create songs about anything and anyone. Make the words rhyme or not.  There is no limit to what type of song can be written and sung.

  5. It helps your child develop self-confidence.  As your child practices a new song with both words and tunes, she will become more confident as she masters it.

  6. When your child sings with a group, it helps him to develop better social skills as he will be learning and building friendships at the same time.

The websites listed below give parents and caregivers many tips as to how to encourage singing.  They range from singing before bedtime or just making up songs while you are at home to looking for singing classes or a group in which your children can participate.  Make it fun.  Your children will enjoy themselves and learn at the same time. 

For more information, please visit these websites:

Parents - Be Aware of the Dangers of E-Cigarette Use by Youth

On December 18, 2018, the Surgeon General of the United States Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams issued a public health advisory on the dangers of e-cigarette use.  He called the use among our youth “an epidemic” and asks all of  us to step up and help protect our children from this major public health threat.

According to the Advisory, e-cigarettes entered the U.S. market in 2007 and since 2014, are the most widely used tobacco product by youth.  In 2018, use grew by 20.8% so that 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students used e-cigarettes.  These cigarettes come in different shapes, sizes and flavors and have become very attractive to youth, especially with so much effective advertising geared toward the youth.  It is also important to know that, in addition to using various flavors, marijuana is being used in e-cigarettes too.  

The Surgeon General warned that e-cigarette aerosol can be harmful as it usually has nicotine, which is an addictive drug.  “Nicotine exposure during adolescence can harm the developing brain – which continues to develop until about age 25. Nicotine exposure during adolescence can impact learning, memory, and attention. Using nicotine in adolescence can also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs. In addition to nicotine, the aerosol that users inhale and exhale from e-cigarettes can potentially expose both themselves and bystanders to other harmful substances, including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs.”

He refers to this growing use as a “public health epidemic” and asks us assist in the fight to protect our children.  The Advisory provides helpful information as to what can be done by parents, teachers, health professionals, as well as government entities. 

The Advisory ends with the following: “KNOW THE RISKS. TAKE ACTION. PROTECT OUR KIDS.”

To read the full advisory, CLICK HERE.

For other interesting articles on the dangers of e-cigarettes, visit: