This article on adolescents and breakfast is part one of a series on teenage nutrition. You can read the introduction to this series from these two articles “What Is On Your Family’s Breakfast Plate” and “Teenage Nutrition: Why You Should Pick This Battle For Your Adolescent.” We are very excited to bring you this series and hope you feel comfortable to add your own thoughts, tips and suggestions.
Is Breakfast on Your Teenager’s Menu?
Eating breakfast is part of your teenager’s morning ritual? Then stop, you don’t need to keep reading. But if your adolescent leaves the house with an empty stomach, trust me, they are not the only one arriving to school without eating. It seems this passage into teenage years equates with not having time nor hunger for this important meal. In France, only 59% of teens eat breakfast daily. In America, this situation is worse. According to the American Dietetic Association, only half of teenage boys, and a third of teenage girls eat breakfast regularly. In the United Kingdom, the situation also seems dire. From the article Surviving Teenagers: Why they never eat breakfast,
Breakfast and teenagers don’t mix because they find it so hard to wake up. By the time they’re standing in the kitchen, hair on end, clothes on backwards, they’ve only got two minutes before they have to leave the house.
One of the reasons I wrote this series is to help me, as a parent, to find ways to work with my teenager. Breakfast at our house was becoming an issue for my daughter. Sometimes I felt like she was the only one to act like this. I wanted to understand about the psychology of raising a teen. It is easier to know what your kids should eat, the harder part is putting it into action.
So the reason teens do not eat breakfast is because there is no time to eat?
There are three main reasons why teens do not eat breakfast:
- not enough sleep
- weight control
- lack of hunger
Lack of sleep is a problem in teens because most teens do not get adequate quality sleep. Teenagers need about nine hours sleep, most get between seven to eight hours. Read more about this here. If a teen can hardly wake up in the morning, often they stay in bed until the absolute last-minute. This leaves no time to eat.
Weight control issues especially with girls, is another reason. Your teenage girl may not tell you outright, but they may skip breakfast on purpose to help control their weight. Studies show that teenagers who eat breakfast are actually leaner than teenagers who skip breakfast.
Teenagers are not hungry in the morning. This is probably because of the short amount of time between getting up and walking out the door!
Should we give up or work out a plan?
We cannot give up, these are our kids. Breakfast is a vital part of the day. Kids who eat breakfast do better in school. Kids who eat breakfast are leaner. Plan for action it is.
Teenage breakfast and nutrition, solutions for a win-win situation
Win-win is that your teenager eats breakfast on a daily basis. Win-win means that there are no battles between parents and your adolescent on breakfast. Your teenager needs to hear from you that you expect them to eat something for breakfast.
- Not enough sleep? If your child does not regularly get enough sleep they must be pushed to go to bed earlier. Teens who text, use the computer and video games before bedtime may find it hard to fall asleep. Quiet time and no screens within one hour of sleeping help your child have good quality sleep.
- Weight control? Adolescents who seem to skip breakfast for no real reason could be watching their weight. This type of weight control is more common than we think. Teenage girls in particular, are confronted with their body image, media and peer pressure. Talk to your teenager if you feel they are avoiding breakfast to lose weight. Chances are this is not the only meal they are avoiding for this reason.
- Lack of hunger? If your child is not hungry in the morning, they may not have gotten up early enough. Hunger cues can take some time to develop in the morning. Eating a daily small breakfast could bring back the hunger cues on a regular basis.
The issue with my teenage daughter is that she doesn’t have enough time in the morning to eat. She finds it hard to get up on time and hard to get downstairs to eat breakfast on time. We have pushed her to go to bed early, to get up earlier too. Things are better most days. And she knows our expectations: she has to eat something for breakfast. So she eats her breakfast on the run. It is a work in progress.
How do you work with your teenager for a win-win solution?
Your suggestions and tips to get your teen to eat breakfast? Here are some I have heard of:
- Serve breakfast on a tray in their room to help wake your teenage up.
- Prepare food the night before and have it ready for them in the morning.
- Get up early with your teenager and sit with them through breakfast.
What are some healthy food ideas for a teenager’s breakfast on the run? Good thing you asked, because that is the next article coming up.
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