Many parents allow their children to skip breakfast. Parents may reason that the children aren’t hungry in the morning, and by skipping breakfast they avoid a bunch of calories. However, eating breakfast is important because it shifts the body out of starvation mode and into action.

When a body thinks that it’s starving, it hoards energy by slowing down the burning of calories. Concentration becomes difficult. A child often becomes cranky and isn’t able to run, play, or jump with much enthusiasm. A school-aged child won’t do well in morning lessons.

The healthiest breakfasts are a combination of whole grains, some form of lowfat or fat-free milk, yogurt or cheese (for calcium and protein), and a little fat. Like any meal, avoid eating sweet breakfast foods without balancing them with fiber, protein, or fat because the sugar load can backfire in an energy crash.

Be practical: Breakfast can be as simple as a granola bar or half a tuna sandwich and milk or as homespun as a warming bowl of hot cereal sweetened with raisins. That your child eats something every morning — even if it’s a slice of cold left over pizza — is what’s important.