Your Breakfast, Your Life

My husband always made breakfast in our home –  Sunday was crepes, Wednesday and Saturday were French Toast, the other days were hot cereal or eggs.  People tend to think of breakfast at our house like the breakfasts in Cheaper by the Dozen, but it was nothing of the sort, in fact it was pretty quiet.

Healthy protein shakes were added to our breakfast menu in 1988.  Some children used it as a stand-alone-meal when they didn’t have time to sit down.  Since I never felt like eating a heavy breakfast,  the shakes benefited my own health immensely.

As parents and teachers, my husband and I were interested in getting our children the best start in the morning, and concerned with students who obviously weren’t as well nourished as they could be.

I went to a school district lecture in the late ’80s, where a presenter mentioned something I always remembered – about a project in New York City schools started in order to benefit the health and academic performance of their students.  During this time, a cooperative breakfast cereal company was asked to take out BHA and BHT from cereals to see if the chemicals had any effect on the learning of the children.  I didn’t remember the exact details, but that there was a staggering improvement of overall school performance with the group that did not have BHA and BHT in their cereal.

I’m sure that the study I recall is the one I can now find on the internet involving 800,000 students in 803 schools across every demographic profile in NYC for four years ending in 1983.  It was based on a research about criminal offenders by Dr. Alexander G. Schauss.  (Dr. Schauss is a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition (FACN) and the author or co-author of over 100 papers and works, and served as Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Biosocial and Medical Research for 13 years.)

To make positive change in the students, Dr. Schauss told the New York City public school system to “significantly increase the nutritional density and fiber levels of the breakfast and lunch meals served to students under the national lunch program.”  He emphasized the need to significantly lower of eliminate “empty nutrient” foods, such as sugar, unfortified wheat flour, sodas, and most desserts.

Strangely, opposition came from many dieticians, who maintained that they were already getting a  ” ‘balanced diet’ and there was no need to reduce sugar, sodas, etc.”  Dr. Schauss even recalled a professor of dietetics stating on television that there was nothing wrong with a chld eating a popular breakfast cereal that was nearly 60% refined sugar.

Current school lunch program crusader, Jamie Oliver,  and others across North America are building largely on the foundational efforts of Dr. Schauss, who even had to defend his research before the US Senate at the time.

After a year and a half of data analyzing, the findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Nutrition.  The diet changes let to the largest gain in academic standardized test performance in US education history, with an increase of 8 percentage points over the norm of 2 percentage points.  Results were published in 1987 in the International Journal of Biosocial and Medical Research.

It’s tough to fight the battle for a good, healthy family breakfast.

  • Everyone is in a rush
  • Nothing is in the fridge
  • Cereals that children think are great, aren’t a great breakfast

Cereal companies apparently market their poorest nutritional cereals to children via television and online marketing.  The Rudd Centre Health Digest found that “Cereal companies spend nearly $156 million annually in television marketing to children.  They also market extensively through the Web, social media, packaging, and in-store promotions.”  They say that

This research demonstrates just how far cereal companies have gone to target children in almost everything they do.  The total amount of breakfast cereal marketing to children on television and computer schreens, and at their eye-level in stores, combined with the appalling nutrient profile of the cereals most frequently marketed, is staggering,” said lead researcher Mennifer L. Harris, PhD, MBA, and Rudd Center Director of Marketing Initiatives.

When I look at a box for nutritional information, I don’t see the information that I really need to know.  But behind the tidy list of box-facts, is the real story: that child-targeted cereals have

  • 85% more sugar
  • 65% less fiber
  • 60% more sodium than cereals for adults

In addition

  • child-targeted cereals have 42% artificial food dyes
  • “family” cereals have 26%, and
  • adult cereals have 5% food dyes.

Although all the cereals meet their own standards for nutrition

  • Cocoa Puffs has 44% sugar
  • Cap’n Crunch has 44% sugar
  • Froot Loops has 41% sugar
  • Lucky Charms has 41% sugar
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch has 32% sugar.

In addition to the sugars added and fiber missing from these cereals, some, but not all, have BHA and BHT.  It took me quite awhile to read the cereal boxes the other day, but I did find a few that don’t have these chemicals and could be appealing to children, with fruit added.    I was surprised that it had been removed from any cereals at all, and that there could be a choice.  Unfortunately, the chemicals are also in other products like potato chips, chewing gum, vegetable oils, lip balm and diaper rash cream.

The chemicals are closely related and are added as a preservative to prevent rancidity.  The FDA has BHA on their Generally Recognized as Safe list, recommending limited consumption in the hope that additional testing will be done.

The US Department of Health and Human Service says that BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

The Cosmetic Safety Database lists BHA as a high risk product and lists health effect as

If Mom or Dad can’t get a good breakfast on the table because of a rushed morning, try our delicious protein shakes.  Our flavored protein shake is a balanced combination of soy protein (equivalent to animal protein in quality) and plant-based carbohydrates with balanced levels of essential vitamins and minerals, glutamine, arginine, branched chain amino acids, antioxidants.  We also have whey-based proteins.

All shakes can be customized with personal choices in fruits, juice, milk, or milk-substitutes, and if you add a piece of whole-grain toast, your family can run out the door well fed in no time!

Scientific research is plentiful on the effect of nutrition and academic performance, so with a nutritious breakfast, free of as many additives and chemicals as possible, you can give your children the gift of

  • making fewer mistakes and working faster in math and number-checking tests
  • performing better on standardized tests
  • improving their speed and memory in cognitive tests
  • improving cognitive function, attention, and memory
  • improved math grades, attendance and punctuality
  • performing better on tests of vocabulary and matching figures
  • improvement on demanding mental tasks and reaction to frustration
  • decrease in tardiness and suspensions, behavior and attentiveness
  • fewer disciplinary office referrals
  • lower absence and tardiness rates and improved standardized achievement test scores
  • reduction of obesity risk
  • lower BMI for girls

My children love the taste of the shakes; they shared them with their friends when they came over after school, my grandchildren call them “yummy!”  They’re complete nutrition, fast, cost-effective and convenient.

For more info on a great breakfast:

type “gethealthy” for prices before discounts.

Dad can still make breakfast, because nothing can replace a family eating a meal together, but incorporate shakes into your morning routine, especially if you don’t have a cook :-), and watch your children flourish.

About Margo

Margo Linder has over 24 years experience helping clients ( gain better health with her products. She is a busy mother of ten (19 - 39) and grandmother of seventeen, who enjoys reading, sewing painting and interior design. Margo writes as if passing on bits of information to her very large family of children, their spouses and grandchildren - and anyone else who might be listening. She will explore how small life changes (tweaks) will make a huge difference to enjoyment of life and general well-being. The World Health Organization defines health in terms of complete physical, social and mental/psychological well-being. So this is about the "whole" person. She emphasizes that she is not a health professional or scientist, but offers food-for-thought from life experience, her health business and their scientists, her own research and common sense.
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