breakfast

The Importance of Eating Breakfast & VSB’s Breakfast Program

Intro

Breakfast is often regarded as the “most important meal of the day” and for good reason. But many people skip breakfast, usually for reasons such as waking up late, not feeling hungry in the morning, or being a “coffee person.” So, should you eat breakfast? 

Why Should We Eat?

Well…yes and no. The answer can be complex. Of course, you don’t have to force yourself to eat if you’re not hungry, but there are so many benefits to eating in the morning before you start your day. According to MedicalNewsToday, breakfast, which means “to break the fast,” earned its reputation for being the most important meal of the day in the 1960s after an American nutritionist suggested that people should eat breakfast “like a king” to stay healthy and fit. 

Currently, many doctors, researchers and dieticians believe that the biggest benefits of eating breakfast are:

  • Energy
    • Because our body’s main energy source is glucose, we need to eat foods that contain glucose. After not eating for almost 12 hours, our glycogen levels are low. Eating breakfast can help boost our energy levels and restore our glycogen levels to keep our metabolism up for the day. 
  • Essential vitamins/minerals/nutrients
    • Breakfast foods are usually incredibly rich in nutrients, such as folate, calcium, iron, B vitamins and fibre.
  • Weight control
    • Breakfast prevents large changes in your blood glucose levels, which helps you control your appetite.
  • Brainpower 
    • If you don’t eat properly, you might feel slightly sluggish and unmotivated to do things throughout the day. Eating properly in the morning can help boost your brainpower, which in turn, can boost your academic performance! 
  • Better food choices
    • People who skip breakfast often rely on snacks to get them through the day. This can be a big problem if the snacks are low in fibre, vitamins and minerals and high in fat and salt. While fat and salt aren’t entirely bad for your body, the key to being healthy is to have a balanced diet, which often includes eating breakfast. 

Fresh Plate: VSB’s Breakfast Pilot Program

Considering the healthy and nutritional benefits of breakfast, the Vancouver School Board started a breakfast pilot program, Fresh Plate, on September 13, 2021. Currently, the program only runs at one elementary school, but coordinators plan to expand the program to other schools in the future.

Fresh Plate is healthy by design and is guided by the core principles of nutrition, sustainability, and accessibility:

  1. Nutrition
    • Limit processed foods
    • Limit refined sugar intake
    • Teach the importance of proper nutrition and how to navigate Canada’s Food Guide
  1. Sustainability
    • Teach the importance of recycling and its impact on the planet
    • Provide funds for kitchen upgrades 
    • Replace single-use plastic cutlery with tableware
  1. Accessibility
    • All children will be able to start their day with a healthy and nutritious breakfast, regardless of their finances.

The program, which ensures that no child goes to school hungry, delivers delicious and well-balanced breakfasts to students. Each month, children (at schools that are a part of the Fresh Plate program) will receive menus based on Canada’s Food Guide for healthy eating. The menu considers foods that are specifically good for the development of children and then comes up with healthy morning meals using those foods. And like many other regular meal programs, Fresh Plate changes its menu every month to ensure balance and to add new and exciting foods. 

Below is an example of a Fresh Plate breakfast menu:

  • Day 1: Bagels, smoked salmon, sliced bananas, and 2% milk
  • Day 2: Scrambled eggs, choice of vegetables, fresh fruit, and 2% milk
  • Day 3: Hot oatmeal, toast with jam, fresh fruit, and 2% milk
  • Day 4: Egg and cheese, breakfast wrap, fresh fruit, and 2% milk
  • Day 5: Protein pancakes, yogurt pouch, fresh fruit, and 2% milk

Sources: VSB Breakfast Pilot Program, Fresh Plate, MedicalNewsToday: Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?, BetterHealth: Breakfast Summary

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