Healthy breakfast key to healthy eating throughout the day.

We all “fast” for a few hours each night while we sleep, but it’s important to “break the fast” in the morning and refuel your body. Breakfast gives you the fuel your brain needs to function for the day. Eating breakfast helps boost your metabolism, improves alertness and concentration, supports weight control, and fights disease.

Research shows that skipping breakfast regularly can negatively impact a child’s academic performance. Children who skip breakfast have trouble staying on task at school and become tired and irritable. People who eat breakfast tend to eat more healthfully all day. Breakfast skippers, especially children, usually don’t make up for the nutrients they missed at breakfast.

Choosing the right foods for breakfast is important. Choose wrong and you are likely to experience a mid-morning energy crash. Following are five of the worst popular breakfasts.

1. Doughnuts or pastries are calorie bombs, contributing 250 to 550 calories or more in a small package. They also deliver a lot of sugar, which will cause your blood glucose to rise rapidly. This means you are in for a big sugar crash later in the morning, which will leave you hungry and craving more refined carbs.

2. Sausage biscuits are sodium bombs wrapped in trans fat. A high-sodium diet can increase your blood pressure and cardiovascular risk. The nitrates in the sausage are linked to certain cancers, and the trans fat in the biscuit will increase your bad cholesterol level and cardiac risk.

3. Flavored nondairy creamers may contain partially hydrogenated oils, which are trans fats. Plus, they usually contain sugar or artificial sweeteners. Work on removing these from your coffee and reach for milk or unsweetened milk substitutes instead.

4. Brightly colored sugary cereals are full of food dyes that may contribute to hyperactivity in some kids. Plus, sugary cereals deliver empty calories that won’t stick with you throughout the morning.

5. Bagels and cream cheese have little nutritional value and lots of calories. Bagels are usually refined flour with as many calories as four slices of bread. If your diet consists more of refined flours than whole grains, your risk for diabetes and heart disease increases. The cream cheese adds more calories and a dose of unhealthy fat.

An ideal breakfast is going to give you enough energy to last until lunch. You should include whole grains, low-fat protein, low-fat dairy, fruits and vegetables. Whole fruits are better than juice because the fiber will stick with you longer and you’ll consume fewer calories.

Following are some healthy breakfast ideas.

•Oatmeal made with low-fat milk and topped with dried or fresh fruit and chopped nuts

•A sandwich with a whole-grain English muffin, egg, Canadian bacon and cheese

•Yogurt and fruit parfait or smoothie

•Whole-grain toast with peanut butter and a banana

•Whole-grain cereal, low-fat milk and fresh fruit

•Whole-grain waffle topped with nut butter

Hard-boiled eggs and an orange

Not a fan of breakfast foods? Think outside the box. Dinner leftovers can make a good breakfast. Try adding the toppings from leftover pizza to some scrambled eggs. Really anything can be breakfast; just choose wisely.