School’s out for the summer but that doesn’t mean breakfast should take a vacation. Besides being a proven brain booster, eating breakfast also plays an important role in weight regulation. In fact, the recent 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans reported the following:“Not eating breakfast has been associated with excess body weight, especially among children and adolescents. Consuming breakfast also has been associated with weight loss and weight loss maintenance, as well as improved nutrient intake.”Yes, summertime breakfast skipping can contribute to excess weight gain in children. When kids miss out on a morning meal, they tend to overeat later in the day, munching on high calorie, low nutrient snacks and beverages such as candy, soda pop, and fried snacks. Research has shown that kids actually gain more weight in the summertime than they do during the school year!What’s interesting is that breakfast eating helps regulate weight for kids and teens who are both underweight or overweight. I found out firsthand the impact breakfast could make on my friend’s teen son’s nutrition last summer. He is 6’5" and plays football as an offensive lineman. He was participating in intense conditioning and weight workouts but was losing, not gaining weight. He was also choosing sleep over breakfast. He was missing an opportunity to eat calories, protein and a whole array of nutrients. After he started eating a big but balanced daily breakfast, he started to gain the weight he needed.Mix & Match Breakfast Menus The table below provides simple “mix and match” menu ideas packed with nutrient-rich foods. Variety is the key when designing a breakfast that will supply enough energy to last throughout the morning. Kids need a balance of nutrients, so include sources of complex carbohydrates in the form of grains, a protein source (dairy counts too), and nutrient-boosting fruits or vegetables as part of the breakfast plan. These are just suggestions, tailor the list to what your family likes and what you have on hand. Kids will think it’s so much fun to pick something from each list to make their own special breakfast! Encourage them to change it up and not just pick the same ones every day.With your child’s help, choose a food from each group to build a menu with the the perfect mix of nutrients:Whole GrainsMulti grain tortilla, pita bread, mini-bagel or toaster waffle; whole wheat toast; low fat, whole grain muffin; oatmeal; quinoa; whole grain cereal (Making a tiny toaster bagel pizza is fun for kids- you can change it up and do it with fruit, too!)Protein or dairyYogurt, nut butter, low fat string or sliced cheese, refried beans, lean sausage, eggs, low fat milk (as I’ve said before- beans and eggs are two of my favorite proteins- cheap and easy!)Fruit or veggie100% fruit or vegetable juice (Brooke and I like the little cans of Spicy V8), fresh berries, small banana, pineapple chunks, mandarin orange slices, salsa, cherry tomatoes, baked or roasted potatoes, melon or peach slices.