Breakfast: the most important meal of the day?


School nurse Sarah Sanders helps students with nutrition.

Cheer rehearsal, swim and dive, football practice and extra help – some school extracurriculars starting early in the morning, or maybe living far away from school. The likelihood of eating a healthy breakfast amidst the morning chaos is next to nothing. Teenagers tend to skip out on this meal for many different reasons. According to the School of Public Health in Minnesota, nationally, about 60% of high school students skip breakfast each morning. Running out of time or simply not having anything to eat can be a struggle for many growing High Schoolers.

It is often said that food is equal to that of gas in a car. Without eating, studies have shown that the body’s energy levels decrease substantially. Dr. Schneider of says “Study after study shows that kids who eat breakfast function better. They do better in school, and have better concentration and more energy.” What many people might not know is that both your mood and mental health can be affected as well, which can lead to a long and tiring day. 

Sara Sanders, one of the school nurses at Arvada West High School and someone who has taken college courses in areas of nutrition, explains in depth about the links between skipping breakfast and a significant drop in mental health and moods.

“For some people, not eating and having those drops in blood sugar can actually kind of cause some people to feel more anxious.” Sanders explains, anxiety being something that many teengers struggle with on a daily basis, “Not keeping your blood sugar nice and stable can sometimes create anxiety.”

Sanders goes on to say that, “If you’re not providing yourself with those good balanced meals, good healthy meals, that can sometimes cause people to feel a bit more depressed or their mood just isn’t as good. Eating a healthy nutritious breakfast and diet is really linked to good mental health.” 

Depression can have a serious toll on teenagers whose brains are still developing. Teenagers’ health consists of many things, but sleep and a strong diet directly correlate with mental health and functionality throughout the day. According to the Mayo Clinic, teen depression is a serious mental health problem that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities. It affects how teenagers think, feel, and behave, along with emotional, functional and physical problems. Even if it is tiring or even if it costs just a bit more energy, in the end, eating breakfast every day (or at least throughout the majority of the week) can lead to a better, healthier, and happier lifestyle. The next time Starbucks or McDonalds comes to mind, try instead replacing it with a few hard boiled eggs or a quick fruit smoothie, the more consistent the better.

Sanders goes into detail that, “breakfast is something that they’ve always talked about being the most important meal of the day. It gets your body going and you need that fuel first thing in the morning for your brain. Our brains do run on glucose, and so we need some of those complex carbohydrates to fuel our brains to be able to function while we are in school.” 

Choice is everything. Although it may be easy to run through a quick drive-thru or snack on a bag of chips throughout the morning, science shows that it’s better to have a more balanced breakfast with healthy attributes to really keep you going throughout the day.

Along with healthy carbohydrates, protein and fats can make up a well  balanced and healthy breakfast. “It will keep your blood sugar nice and stable throughout the morning so you aren’t having those crashes. When you have high sugar breakfasts, two hours later you’re going to want to fall asleep and crave more sugar,” Sanders explains.

For a lot of people, especially teenagers that like to sleep in, just simply finding time for breakfast can be a challenge in itself. However, there are some easy solutions to this. Preparing things in advance can be incredibly helpful; cooking the night before so you can grab and go is something that many are capable of doing. Hard boiled eggs, quick one minute oatmeal, fruit and nuts, and smoothies can be healthy alternatives. If even then you aren’t convinced, some schools, including Arvada West High School, serve breakfast in the early morning for students who haven’t eaten in the prior hours. There are many options and it is worth it to go the extra mile, even if it’s something small. Breakfast is important, and taking time to nourish yourself scientifically has more benefits than just skipping out.