To co-opt the slogan of a certain cereal -- silly rabbit, breakfast isn't just for kids.
Holly Christian, the school nutrition lead for population health with Northern Health, said breakfast is perfect time for a family meal.
She said by gathering everyone around the table in the morning it promotes family communication, results in better nutrition and is an opportunity to teach children life skills, such as food preparation.
"Get up a little bit earlier, sit down and make a family meal out of it," Christian said. "We all get busy in the evenings and sometimes suppers end up being rushed or on-the-go."
With the return of school just around the corner, Christian stressed the importance of sending children off to class with a well-balanced breakfast in their stomach. Family breakfasts give parents a chance to be role models in that regard and take advantage of the benefits of a healthy breakfast themselves.
When preparing a morning meal, parents should try to integrate at least three food groups, with sources of protein high on the priority list. Christian suggested finding ways to include dairy, meat or their alternatives as one way to get the required nutrients.
"We sleep for upwards of eight hours a night, and in that span of time our body is conserving energy," she said. "If you wake up if you don't eat breakfast -- it's the same for adults and for kids -- your body is still in conservation mode until you start up your metabolism."
Getting off to the right start in the morning does more than just cure the growling stomach before lunch.
"We know that children who eat breakfast do perform better in school," she said.
Although a family meal is ideal, Christian acknowledged it's not always possible for busy families, but she said there are creative ways to make nutritious breakfasts on the fly. For instance wraps can be used to hold a peanut butter and banana meal or a fruit and yogurt combination. Canada's Food Guide, prepared by the federal government, has other quick and healthy suggestions like homemade bran muffins and cheese, baked beans on toast or a yogurt and fruit smoothie.
For those families that choose to go the cereal route, Christian advised finding brands that contain at least four grams of fibre per serving and avoiding the high-sugar varieties.
"We know that the way our body processes sugar, we get a quick burst of energy but that quickly goes away and we become tired."
Breakfast programs at some schools are another way to make sure kids are getting everything they need to make the most of their morning lessons.
"Eating breakfast is always better than skipping breakfast," Christian said. "We want to make sure that before kids are going to school that they have something in their system that can start their metabolism up."