We have all heard the age-old adage of breakfast being the most important meal of the day or that your day can’t begin until you eat breakfast. But is this really true? Does your body really need that nutrition in the morning?
When you sleep at night, your body is in a fasting state, meaning you have not eaten anything for at least as many hours as you have slept. During that time, your body is breaking down and storing any foods consumed during the day into your body’s preferred source of fuel. As the morning approaches, your body is looking for a replacement of that energy source used throughout that time. Eating breakfast is a way to break that fasting state by maintaining blood sugar levels and preventing dips or spikes in your blood sugar levels that happens when you don’t eat. Breakfast acts a way to replace and give your body the fuel it needs to begin the day.
Other benefits of breakfast include better performance and improved energy in comparison to those who don’t eat breakfast, seen especially in school aged children. Those who eat breakfast report an improved ability to focus and perform important tasks. Research studies suggest that those who eat breakfast may have better weight control and management. According to the National Weight Control Registry (link above), 77% of participants report eating breakfast every day. This is an important finding as the National Weight Control Registry tracks BEHAVIORS of 10,000 people who have been able to lose weight and maintain that weight loss over a long period of time. Eating breakfast seems to set the tone for how you eat throughout the day. Studies suggest that those who eat breakfast, have higher intake of fiber and calcium.
Some ideas for breakfast foods include:
• Hot cereals: oatmeal, cream of wheat, grits, muesli, bran cereal, or overnight oats. These can be pre-made or in a pre-packaged form.
• Cold cereal: any bran cereal such as Bran Flakes, Raisin Bran, or Grape Nuts. Look at the nutrition label and focus on cereals with 3 g of fiber or more per serving.
• Yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh fruit. Can also add a variety of nuts like walnuts, pecans, or almonds.
• Eggs: hard boiled, scrambled, or muffin pan eggs
• Smoothies: can use protein powder or nut butter or yogurt as your protein, fresh or frozen fruit like berries, mango, or pineapple, fresh veggies such as spinach or celery, and fat sources such as flaxseed or wheat germ.
• Whole grain breads or waffles and English muffins: This can be topped with nut butters such as: peanut, almond, or sun butter, or with egg and avocado. Look for bread fiber content to be at least 3g or more per serving.
• Home-made muffins: can add fiber by using whole wheat flour. Can increase veggie and fruit intake by adding shredded carrots or zucchini, cranberries, blue berries or bananas. Extra protein can be added by using nuts such as almond, walnut or pecan and seeds like pumpkin or sunflower.
• Quinoa with nuts and fruit
• Protein Bars – look for one that has a minimum of 5 g of protein per serving.
Some Ideas for Kids breakfast includes:
• Mini pancakes or eggs in muffin pan
• Granola with dried fruit or homemade fruit and yogurt parfait
• Breakfast Quesadilla
• Energy bars or bites
• Nut butter and toast
• Mini Muffins
• Chia Pudding with Fruit
Another way to make breakfast fun for kids is to add shapes with cookie cutters.
Remember to start where you are at and make small changes over time. First, work on making it more of a habit, and then focus on the nutritional content of what you are eating. The most important thing is to avoid getting so hungry that you over-eat because you are not listening to your body’s cues.
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