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The Importance of Breakfast to College Students

It happens all too often that college level kids begin unhealthy eating habits that may be carried with them their entire life because of a false perception of their limited resources and time. I believe that the core of this issue starts the moment you wake up and decide to skip BREAKFAST!! With my purpose in mind, the importance and value for a college student to start their day off right is a topic that must be discussed.

You wake up and crawl out of bed by 7:30 am. You scrub some toothpaste on your teeth, comb your fingers through your hair, and grab your books. You head to the kitchen, take one look at the clock and it’s already 7:45. You have class in 15 minutes and you say to yourself, “there’s no time for breakfast, I have to get to class or I’m going to be late!” This is a situation that so many college kids find them self in day after day. What they aren’t realizing is the nutritional value they’ve skipped out on and the harm they are posing to both their metabolism and their capacity to do well in school. There are countless benefits to eating a healthy breakfast.

There’s a reason the American Dietetic Association says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. By starting your day with a healthy breakfast, you not only boost your energy (which will in turn boost your motivation to increase your productivity), but it also increases your attention span, reaction time, and brain power (most notably in better memory). All of which are extremely essential for a day filled with class, homework, and physical activity. Studies have shown that children who eat a healthy breakfast do significantly better in school than those who don’t; and there’s no difference when it comes to a college level education. Higher energy and motivation will increase personal attendance in class, increase daily productivity, and help in managing moods and emotions.

Breakfast not only yields benefits in brain power, but in your physical health as well. Research has shown that some of the leading natural causes of death in America could have been prevented with better health. As a college kid, the cause of your death is a long way away but it is wise to start to manage your health and habits while you’re still young. This includes establishing a healthy metabolism and regular eating routine; both of which involve the inclusion of breakfast to maintain them. When you eat, your body turns the food you eat into glucose, the primary source of energy for cellular metabolism. It is very important to keep up good levels of glucose in your blood as it is the main supply of energy to your brain.

By the time you wake up, you could have gone over 12 hours with no food, depending on when you ate dinner. Your glucose levels have drastically decreased by this point and are necessary to be replenished (this is where the boost in energy becomes evident after eating breakfast). So let’s say that you are eating dinner and your body knows it’s not going to be getting food again for a long time because you’re going to skip breakfast the next day. Your body will become familiar with this ongoing habit and decide to store the calories you take in at dinner as fat to be used for later. Then come mid to late afternoon the next day, you are more likely to binge eat because your hunger will finally kick in.

So now that we know the costs and benefits, how can we manage establishing a good eating schedule that includes our much needed healthy breakfast? Let’s start by outlining the top excuses for not eating breakfast and debunk them.

1.) “I’m not hungry/I never have an appetite in the morning.” This is likely the effect of late night eating. When we eat late, our stomachs start to digest the food like normal. However, when we go to sleep, the process of digestion is slowed down and by the time you wake up, there may still be food in your stomach yet to be digested. Keep nighttime eating to a bare minimum past 9 pm and you’ll start finding that appetite in the morning.

2.) “I’m cutting calories; I’m not going to eat breakfast today.” This is a common occurrence among people who believe that skipping breakfast will help lose weight by cutting calories. The reality is, eating breakfast will actually help you lose weight. Breakfast compromises one third of your total calorie intake for the day. While it may feel like you are taking in more calories, you are taking them in at the most ideal time of day, when you have the most time to burn them off. Also, by filling yourself up with breakfast, you are less likely to eat as heavily later in the day.

3.) “I simply don’t have time to eat breakfast.” This is probably the number one reason college kids skip out on breakfast. There’s not much you can do when you already have an established school/work/sleep schedule. There are ways, however, to take advantage of your down time during the day to prepare for busy mornings when extra time is nowhere to be had. When shopping, be sure to pick up fresh fruits that are great for someone on the go or get cups of yogurt that are quick to eat and super affordable. If your sleep routine is flexible, give yourself an extra 10 minutes in the morning. How long does it take to eat a bowl of cereal in the morning? The key to overcoming your time constraint in the morning is planning ahead.

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