Is Eating Breakfast Important for K-12 Students?

5 min to read
A family eating breakfast together

Eating breakfast can help students stay fueled throughout the first half of their day. Yet, life happens, people run late, and sometimes there may not be time for breakfast. But skipping breakfast may mean that a student is missing out on important benefits from the meal.

Why Students Should Eat Breakfast

Research finds that eating breakfast can help students in multiple ways, specifically with students’ nutrition, overall well-being, and school performance.


A longitudinal study found that children and teenagers who regularly skipped breakfast grew into young adults who did not typically eat highly nutritious meals.

Eating breakfast can keep a person’s blood sugar in the normal range and reduce feelings of extreme hunger throughout the morning and afternoon. By eating breakfast, students can reduce the chances of experiencing blood sugar crashes during the day, which can cause them to feel ravenous hunger outside of mealtimes.

Overall Well-being

Eating breakfast can help avoid midmorning energy or mood declines. One study even found that adolescents who regularly skipped breakfast were more likely to experience stress, anxiety, and depression.

School Performance

The American Academy of Pediatrics finds that eating breakfast helps students have more energy and better concentration during school than if they skipped breakfast. Studies also suggest that students who eat breakfast perform better on tests and can better complete challenging mental tasks. So, a healthy breakfast before a test really can make a difference.

Research also finds that students who eat breakfast earn better grades and achieve higher standardized test scores on average than students who skip breakfast.

A family eating a healthy breakfast together.

Why Some Students Skip Breakfast

So, if breakfast is so important, why do some students still skip it? Every student’s needs are different, but the most common reasons students miss out on breakfast are lack of time and because they might not feel hunger in the mornings.

So, what can be done about it?  

If students don’t have time for breakfast...

Students may struggle with time management in the mornings or may simply run late at times. So, breakfast ends up getting missed, especially by those students who attend brick-and-mortar schools. 

To help make breakfast easier in the morning, consider having easy-to-grab nutritious snacks or preparing food the night before so that the student can have a full meal ready. Also, consider practicing healthy sleep habits to help your student start their morning routine without feeling rushed.

If students don’t feel hungry yet...

Sometimes, students may not feel hungry in the morning, so they skip eating entirely until lunch. While everyone’s hunger cues are different, and students shouldn’t feel obligated to eat if they do not want to, skipping meals in adolescence can have unintended effects on a student’s day and their ability to focus on their learning.

If your student says they aren’t hungry in the morning, consider encouraging them to keep some light meals on hand like carrots and hummus, or cheese and crackers, with them should hunger strike before they can break for lunch. 

An online school student meal-prepping a healthy breakfast.

Easy Breakfast Ideas

Students might not eat breakfast because they may not be sure what food will help them feel ready for the day, or it could leave them with blood sugar crashes. This is why it’s important to speak with your child’s doctor or a dietitian to help them make healthy food choices and better understand what nutrition means.

So, to help, here are some easy breakfast ideas students can pull together before school. Let yourself and your student get creative and have fun with these ideas.

While you keep in mind that no food is necessarily good or bad, also remember that any food can be breakfast food. A healthy breakfast is one that fits your student’s individual needs and tastes, not just what can be found down the cereal aisle. 

Overnight Oats

Grains, such as oats, provide the body with fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Grains can also reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Overnight oats is a great breakfast you can prepare the night before. Take ½ cup of old-fashioned oats (not quick oats) and add ¾ cup of a liquid, such as milk, nut milk, soy milk, oat milk, or water. Try various mix-ins of fruits, nuts, or jams for different flavor combinations. Some ideas are raisins, bananas, chia seeds, flax seed, yogurt, cottage cheese (trust us on this), and chocolate chips. The possibilities are endless, so have fun with them.

Scrambled Eggs

Protein aids in the body recovering and repairing itself and plays an important role in the body’s immune system.

Scrambled eggs are a classic source of breakfast protein because they are quick to make and can be customized by adding meat, cheese, or vegetables. This is great if your child is a picky eater, since they can choose their toppings, or if your child wants to try something adventurous, like different types of cheese mixed into their eggs.

Yogurt Parfait

Dairy products contain beneficial calcium and vitamin D that can help children grow strong bones and have healthy immune systems. If your student is lactose intolerant, then consider getting lactose-free versions of dairy products.

Yogurt parfaits are a fun breakfast for kids because they can create a food masterpiece! In different bowls, lay out various mix-in options, such as raspberries, blueberries, oranges, nuts, jams, and granola. Then, using a clear glass or bowl, help your child layer their parfait to craft a colorful breakfast. This can be great family fun and a positive way to start the day.

Veggie Smoothie

Veggies for breakfast? Hear us out.

Vegetables contain potassium, fiber, folic acid, vitamin A, and vitamin C. They can reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

For a veggie-filled breakfast, blend spinach, kale, and carrots with fruit and a liquid such as milk, almond milk, yogurt, or fruit juice to make yummy and nutritious smoothies. If your child doesn’t like anything that’s green, then add blueberries to darken the color and bananas to mask any vegetable flavors. You can also add vanilla or almond extract to hide the veggie flavor. 

Banana Ice Cream

Fruit contains fiber and vitamin C, which help our immune systems stay healthy and aid our bodies in healing.

For something fun and unique, try banana ice cream for breakfast. Freeze a peeled banana the night before and mash it up in the morning. The texture will be creamy and sweet like ice cream. Then, encourage your child to add fun toppings for texture, such as peanut butter, granola, nuts, or freeze-dried fruit. This is a quick and energizing breakfast for the whole family.

Research shows that the benefits of breakfast include positive impacts on students’ nutrition, overall well-being, and academic performance. Encourage your student to eat breakfast by explaining why breakfast is important, helping them make time for it, and discussing nutritious options. Breakfast can be a fun family activity, and it can be a time for a family to sit down and begin the day together.

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