It’s 7:55 in the morning, you’re rushing down the stairs running ten minutes late to school. The bowl of cereal you’ve been dreaming about all morning is tempting to make, but you decide it’s not worth being marked tardy.
Throughout the media, breakfast is advertised as the most important meal of the day. With science backing up this idea, reflected through social media and doctors echoing this sentiment, breakfast seems like a vital part of morning routines. However, many high school kids continue to skip breakfast.
Breakfast quite simply means to “break” your “fast.” Whether that is the first thing you do after waking up or later in the morning depends on the person eating. However, when you break that fast could affect the way a student feels about food. Whether it is focus or energy, students feel that neglecting to eat before school has negative impacts.
Student Waverly Oake-Libow (‘23) is guilty of skipping breakfast before school. “I choose to put more time into sleep rather than eating.” Oake-Libow says that she thinks it is a bad habit, one that she wishes to break. “I do get really hungry during class, and it is a distraction.”
Oake-Libow eats a balanced breakfast every weekend and says she notices a difference in how she feels throughout the day. “I feel more balanced and put together. I have a lot more energy throughout the day and I am able to stick to a more consistent meal schedule.” Oake-Libow estimates it takes her about 10-15 minutes to make breakfast on the weekends. Although this does not seem like a large amount of time, Oake-Libow cannot fathom waking up ten minutes earlier each weekday.
An article written by the Better Health Channel titled “Breakfast” explains why breakfast is so important. One thing the article touches upon is that, when you wake up, the average person would have gone without food for around 10 hours. Eating breakfast in the morning replenishes the stores of energy and nutrients your body needs.
Sophie Royal (‘23) is a student who eats a full breakfast every morning, including scrambled eggs and some form of a bagel. “If I do not eat breakfast, I get really shaky, and I can’t think or focus.” Royal continued to emphasize the struggle to focus throughout the day if she has an empty stomach.
The common pattern at ORHS shows that this drastically impairs a student’s ability to focus. Both Royal and Oake-Libow mentioned that, when they skip a meal in the morning, all they can really think about during class is the next time they can eat.
Royal is also a student athlete and routinely works out before school. She says there is no way she could skip breakfast on those days without feeling shaky and unbalanced during the school day.
Another factor the Better Health Channel article focused on was the energy your body gets from breakfast. It says that the body’s energy source is glucose, which is stored as glycogen and is kept mostly in your liver and some in your muscles. When your body is fasting, it breaks down the glycogen and releases it into your bloodstream. This means in the morning your glycogen levels are low, meaning your energy levels will stay low until food is put in your body.
Nutrition teacher Nick Ricciardi does not necessarily agree with the statement that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. “I think all of our meals are important.” However, he thinks that skipping any meal is hurtful to your health, and breakfast is included in that. “It’s fueling you for the day, so you are literally breaking your fast. You need to start by drinking some water to get some of that hydration back. Then breaking that fast kick-starts your metabolism.”
The reason for consistently skipping breakfast in the morning always has to do with time. Mornings can be tough trying to get out of the door and to school on time, so making a balanced breakfast before school is unrealistic. Royal’s mother, who used to be a nutritionist, knows the importance of breakfast and says that skipping meals can be very harmful. For this reason, Royal’s parents prepare breakfast every morning. This is not a luxury that all students have, resulting in more students in the same boat as Oake-Libow.
Ricciardi mentioned a couple of solutions to this problem with quick meals to eat in the morning. “Oatmeal is good as long as you’re looking at the number of added sugars already in it. I’d rather see kids taking quick oats and adding things like cinnamon and raisins to give it that sweetness.” Another idea that Ricciardi presented in his Nutrition class, breakfast pizzas, is similar to meal prepping. “Breakfast pizzas are really good, because you can make it on a Sunday and then have a breakfast for each day.”
Although the school’s general opinion is that breakfast is important, it still falls low on the priority list of morning routines. Meal prepping or easy quick breakfasts are a great way to start this habit that will have positive impacts on how you feel! Check out Ava Gruner’s article about quick meals for high schoolers to learn more about what you could be making.