Ask Dr. Marla: Missing Breakfast

Estimated Reading Time 2 Minutes


My 12-year old daughter has a healthy appetite except in the morning. If we’re lucky, she’ll have a glass of juice before she heads to school. I don’t want to turn it into a power struggle. Is it OK to let it go?


The breakfast struggle can be daunting when you hear how important breakfast is for children to focus at school. This is a pretty common complaint. Some children really do feel nauseated or not ready to eat first thing in the morning. I agree that you don’t want to turn this into a power struggle. How much time does she have between getting up in the morning and getting ready for school? Is she rushed or disorganized? Is she at all anxious about school? This might impact her morning appetite. Her otherwise healthy appetite does not lead one to think about food restriction or dieting. She is basically a teenager and as Dr. Glenn Berall, Chief of Paediatrics at North York General Hospital in Toronto points out, teens have a different circadian rhythm. Simply put, she might have a tendency to sleep until the very last second and leave quickly. Generally, we don’t suggest waking your teen up earlier but you can recommend she take something for breakfast. By recess time she is likely to be hungry so make sure you have packed healthy food in her lunch bag.

The one concern I always have is to make sure that your child is not attempting to under eat in the morning and eat lots when she gets home. This might be an attempt at food restriction. We also want to avoid rebound eating where she is so hungry that she eats non-stop later in the day. If you have any concerns at all, please see your doctor.

I recommend these quick breakfast ideas for the kid on the run:

  • a handful of nuts, dried fruit, cereal and a drink
  • a glass of milk, instead of juice. The protein will carry her longer, and juice is loaded with sugar
  • a cold slice of homemade, healthy pizza
  • a smoothie with yogurt, fresh fruit and even some protein powder

Published in October, 2010.

Related Articles

Made Possible With The Support Of Ontario Creates