Fredericksburg Families

Amy Umble writes about family issues and kid-friendly events.

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Brain-boosting breakfast for test days

 SOLs are coming up. So parents will be getting letters reminding them to make sure their child gets a good night’s sleep and eats a good breakfast. My sons have always been reluctant breakfast eaters–a habit they inherited from me. So I’m never quite sure how to get a good breakfast in them. And I’ve always wondered what would make a good breakfast for testing days. So I consulted two nutritionists. Here’s what they had to say:

From Jennifer Motl, a registered dietitian who writes a column for our Healthy Living section:

On test days, I would recommend protein-rich foods combined with fiber-rich carbs for slow-release energy. Ideas: baby spinach and Swiss omelet–serve in a tortilla for a grab-and-go breakfast. For a comforting sit-down breakfast, try cooking 1/2 cup quick oats in 1 cup low-fat milk with 1/4 cup raisins, 1/4 cup sliced almonds, and a dash of ginger and cinnamon–very delicious and provides fiber, protein and fruit. Another option for test days: serve whatever the child usually snacks on while studying for breakfast. Some research on memory indicates that aromas help stimulate the memory.

And local nutritionist Nancy Farrell, MS, RD with Farrell Dietitian Services shared these tips:

We know that research has shown that breakfast improves performances of both students and adults. Breakfast eaters have greater attention spans, improved concentration and perform better on tests. Those who skip breakfast are more likely to get stomach pains or headaches caused by hunger, which could make test-taking a challenge.

Therefore, it’s been my practice to encourage patients to simply eat breakfast, and to encourage regular patterns of eating meals throughout the day.

Traditionally breakfast foods provide us with good sources of calcium and fiber rich foods. If we skip breakfast, we tend to “run on empty” later in the day, and that means we may end making poor food selections later in the day.

Good breakfast ideas – Besides the traditional — Bagel with reduced fat cream cheese or peanut butter, homemade muffins (this assures proper serving size) – think bran, blueberry, cranberry/orange, etc. Breakfast quesadilla with reduced fat cream cheese and sliced fruit, toasted whole wheat English muffin with lean ham and low fat cheese, toasted pita filled with scrambled egg and reduced fat cheese.


I also asked them to share ideas for getting breakfast into reluctant teens. I’ll share those with you in an upcoming post.