Tag Archives: Eat Breakfast

To Eat or Not to Eat Breakfast, of Course

Image by "with wind"
Image by “with wind”

When you live a very busy life, it is easy to over-look breakfast – a common practice in America today. Far too many people start their morning with a large cup of coffee, sometimes black and sometimes filled with cream and sugar – or a sweet, caffeinated soda and nothing else. Bad habit!

Breakfast means “break your fast.”  Your body has been resting and has received no nourishment for eight hours and needs fuel replenishment to start the day. When coffee or sugary drinks are all it is given, it cannot possible function effectively. I know you know this – most people do – and yet they do not eat breakfast. Why?

When asked, the answers usually fall into a couple of categories: 1) “I have too much to do in the morning, and not enough time.” Or – “I don’t really need breakfast. Coffee gives me the jump-start I need.” When you see those excuses in writing, they sound quite lame and yet people say such things (or think them) all the time.

Yes, it can be difficult to balance work and family responsibilities and the temptation to save time by not eating breakfast can be easily rationalized. In fact, people shudder at the thought of preparing a healthy breakfast even for themselves, let alone trying to prepare breakfast for an entire family.

My goal today is twofold:

  1. To re-emphasize that breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day. (Better to skip dinner than breakfast.)
  2. To assure you that it can also be one of the easiest meals of the day to prepare.

Let’s start with the first point.

Most Important Meal of the Day

Many studies show that people who eat breakfast regularly are healthier. Any breakfast at all – a piece of fruit, a bowl of cereal, a banana, a piece of toast, etc., is better than no breakfast.

On the other hand, people who skip breakfast, often to cut calories, tend to weigh more than people who eat breakfast every day. Their strategy backfires on them. Skipping breakfast starves your body. Then, in the late morning it starts screaming, “Feed me.” Since you are most likely at work or school, you will probably look for something (anything) to munch on to quell the hunger pangs. As a rule, those quick grab snacks are empty calories filled with fat, salt and sugar and loaded with calories (which you tried to avoid by not eating breakfast).

This sets up a vicious, unhealthy cycle of starving and eating unhealthy foods that is extremely harmful to your body, especially for those prone to blood sugar issues like diabetes. Eating breakfast not only helps maintain a healthy weight, it helps your body maintain a stable blood-sugar level. Eating breakfast also helps with memory, concentration and productivity.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health completed several studies on the relationship between children who eat breakfast and children who do well in school. The studies show amazing correlations between a nutritious breakfast and the ability to succeed in difficult cognitive tasks. They also show how easily hunger affects mood and concentration.

Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital completed another study that showed students who ate breakfast actually had higher grades and less disciplinary issues than children who did not eat breakfast.

Other studies show the same type of correlation between adults who do not eat breakfast and those who complain of mood swings, fatigue and irritability, especially during the late morning and early afternoon hours of a workday.

Your Body Needs Fuel

It is impossible to drive a car without fuel in the tank. Why do people expect their bodies to run without fuel? Trying to get through the day without refueling your body in the morning is harmful and foolish.

Breakfast replenishes the body with nutrients that provide fuel to support your activities throughout the day. When you skip breakfast you create a nutritional hole in the day, which means that you cannot regain the vitamins and minerals you lose when you choose to NOT eat breakfast. It affects you in multiple ways – diminished energy, weakened ability to concentrate, and lower productivity; plus it can affect your mood, behavior, and outlook for the entire day.

Breakfast sets up your entire day. It is a small meal that provides huge benefits!

Eat Fruit

Fresh FruitBreakfast is the perfect time to eat fruit, which can be eaten in many forms: whole fruit, fruit salad, fruit smoothie, freshly-squeezed fruit juice, or waffles, pancakes, oatmeal, or yogurt topped with fruit – all of those can be the perfect start to a busy day.

If you have trouble eating enough fruit during the day, breakfast is a good time to make it happen. The nutrients in a fresh orange, apple or banana will stay with you over the course of the day.

Strange as it may seem, eating breakfast can be a money-saver. When you eat breakfast, it is much easier to control eating throughout the day. You don’t struggle with those terrible bouts of hunger that hit mid-morning and you satisfy with snacks from the company vending machine or the corner fast-food establishment. As a result, if you eat breakfast, you spend much less money on unhealthy snack foods during an average work day. Breakfast helps your body and your pocketbook.

Eating breakfast is important for every member of the family from the oldest to the youngest, but it is particularly important and beneficial for children. They will do better in school; they will be less likely to spend money on candy or soda during the school day; and they will be more active and more normal weight than children who do not eat breakfast.

Preparing Breakfast Is Easy

There are so many simple, yummy options for breakfast it is difficult to understand why people avoid it.  Breakfast is my favorite meal because there are so many delicious and nutritious foods and combinations of foods to eat.

Many breakfast foods fall into the category of “comfort foods” and/or favorite foods – everything from waffles to pancakes to omelets, so why not start your day with a favorite food?

Pancakes filled with blueberries, topped with a light sprinkling of powdered sugar or real maple syrup can be a wholesome start to the work week. French toast with raspberries or strawberries, or an omelet filled with onions and peppers topped with fresh salsa can be excellent options for the busy lifestyle. Add a piece or two of bacon or sausage for extra flavor. However, both are high in fat and should be eaten in moderation.

It is easy to pack breakfast with nutrients and ensure that you are getting enough of the important food groups. An omelet with vegetables, 2 slices of bacon, half a cantaloupe, and a piece of whole wheat toast covers all the basics. Such a meal is easy to prepare, fuels your body, and tastes great.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of why breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and how it can make a huge difference in your life.

To sum up – eating breakfast can lighten your mood, increase your concentration, and help you lose weight (and save you money). Breakfast is an enjoyable way to start each morning if you plan ahead, have the proper ingredients on hand, and set aside a little extra time to prepare this amazing meal.

Please join us on Monday; I will be sharing some ideas for healthy breakfasts to get you started. 

Photo Credit (Breakfast): IMG_1655 via photopin (license)

Good Nutrition Is Essential for Busy People

 Too Busy to Eat Healthy? Then, You Are Too Busy

You have heard the arguments regarding the importance of a nutritious diet and living a healthy lifestyle. This is an additional alert to help you understand that good nutrition is essential for busy people in order to live long, healthy lives. In the rush of living and getting everything done, that is often the last thing on their minds.

Image by Wavebreak Media
Image by Wavebreak Media

You rush in the morning to get everything organized before you jump in the car and go to the office – often skipping breakfast, or grabbing a strong coffee latte and doughnut on the way to work.

McDonalds Big Mac and FriesYou scramble through the day, grabbing a Danish and another coffee mid-morning, and a little later, you spend a quick 30 minutes to grab a hamburger and fries at the nearest fast-food establishment or local diner for lunch.

Then, it’s back to the office to work diligently until the mid-afternoon slump hits a couple of hours later. You guzzle down another cup of coffee, a cola, or the Monster drink you brought from home, and a candy bar from the vending machine – just to keep you going. With all that sugar and caffeine running through your system, it is no wonder that you have trouble sleeping at night.

Finally, the day is over. It is time to pick up the children from school and try to figure out what to serve for dinner – often it is order-in Chinese, a couple of large pizzas, a quick-stop at the nearest drive-thru, or prepackaged/frozen dinners that can be prepared and served in a matter of minutes. Everyone wolfs down the food and then collapse in front of the TV until it is time to fall into bed completely exhausted.

This scenario, with a few variations, is the average weekday for a majority of the working class in the United States. If you stop to analyze the eating habits specifically, it should not be surprising that we are a nation of exhausted, overweight, and unhealthy individuals – rearing overweight and unhealthy children.

Taking it a step further, people seem to be completely unaware, confused, or simply disinterested in what actually constitutes a healthy meal. As a result, even though there are healthy options available, people either choose to remain uninformed or ignore what they know to be true, because ease and convenience are their highest priorities.

On the other hand, there others who actually have no idea that their eating habits are hurting them and believe that as long as they eat regularly, they are OK, with little thought about what they are eating.

One fact that busy people do not consider is that the busier they are, the more important good nutrition becomes.

When you spend your entire day running from one responsibility to another, your body must have the proper fuel to sustain the effort and stay healthy. When you do not feed your body foods filled with the necessary nutrients, it will eventually begin to break down.

Any (or all) of the following can happen: you feel tired all the time, have trouble sleeping, experience the jitters, become short-tempered, and you catch every bug that comes around.  Your amazing body can only take the mistreatment for so long and as it steadily weakens from the lack of nutritious food, you can develop serious chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, diabetes, and heart problems – plus increase your risk for contracting many other diseases. Your body cannot protect you if it is denied the nutrition it needs to do its job.

The real problem is that on some level people believe that if they are eating (anything) they are fueling their body. As a result, when they get hungry, very busy people tend to fuel their bodies with foods that are high in calories, high in unhealthy fats and refined sugar, and loaded with caffeine, sodium, and additives. The bottom line is they are ingesting an excessive number of calories and receiving practically no nutrient value what-so-ever.

Start the Challenge by Making the Time to Eat a Healthy Breakfast

People get into the habit of thinking that they do not have the time to eat a good breakfast, or to pack a healthy lunch. The reality is that their health is not important enough to get up 15-20 minutes earlier every day to make the time. Those few minutes will make it possible even with the morning rush to sit down to scrambled eggs and a whole-grain bagel with almond butter, rather than grabbing a Mountain Dew and Pop-tart as you run out the door. You will even have a few minutes to pack a healthy sandwich and fruit for lunch.

If that 15 minutes of sleep is a problem, go to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier in the evening.

Taking the time to start the day with a healthy breakfast is one of the most important things you can do for your health and the health of your family. Remember, the habits that you teach your children are the habits that they will take with them to adulthood.

Eat Breakfast for Good Health and Weight Control

Breakfast – The Most Important Meal of the Day

With 6 Healthy Breakfast Ideas

You have heard all your life that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And yet . . . you may be among the huge number of individuals from all over the world who have never taken that admonition seriously. As a result, they skip breakfast and fill up on coffee instead.

Even if you do not want to accept it, breakfast is the most significant meal of the day. I promise that eating a healthy breakfast is a great first step toward improving your diet and your health, plus you will have much greater success at weight control.

The term breakfast describes exactly what the first meal of the day represents – It breaks your fast. You have essentially fasted for 8 to 12 hours (since your last meal the night before) and your body’s energy source needs to be replenished.

Obviously, you do not eat when you are sleeping and your body is at rest, so eating early in the day is necessary in order to nourish your body and have the energy you need to function well throughout the day – both physically and mentally. Some nutrients, such as proteins, cannot be stored in the body and a new supply must be provided. Breakfast is the match that lights the energy fire.

Tony Goldstone, MD, PhD, a consultant endocrinologist with the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre at Imperial College London, states, “When people skip meals, especially breakfast, changes in brain activity in response to food may hinder weight loss and even promote weight gain.” (Web MD, 3 Jul 2014)

People who do not eat breakfast tend to crave high calorie foods to quell their hunger pains and over-indulge with high-calorie mid-morning snacks or stuff themselves at lunch. Both practices contribute to weight gain. Obviously, overeating leads to obesity, which leads to a number of health issues – including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and others.

Healthy foods, such as whole grain toast and bagels, eggs, bran cereals, lean meats, and fruit are good sources of vitamins and minerals that will provide energy throughout the day.

When a healthy breakfast is not eaten first thing in the morning, it is difficult to compensate for the loss during the remainder of the day. It is critical to remember that when the body does not receive the appropriate levels of nutrients, the body cannot function properly.

Studies show that anyone who eats a healthy, nutrient-rich breakfast, tends to eat healthier foods throughout the rest of the day, which ensures that his/her body has a consistent supply of necessary nutrients for good health.

If you do a little planning the night before and allocate 15 to 20 minutes each morning to enjoy breakfast, it can make a huge difference in your health and your daily energy levels and productivity.

The ideal breakfast will incorporate at least three different food groups. For example: A 100% whole-wheat English muffin (whole grains group) topped with pure peanut or almond butter (protein food group) and a fresh orange or freshly-squeezed orange juice (fruit group) is a good combination. Of course, you can add your favorite coffee to the mix with a healthy dose of milk (which adds dairy); just don’t use the coffee as a substitute for the meal.

Even though it is wise to sit down and eat your healthy breakfast, sometimes time simply doesn’t allow for that delightful luxury. In that case, avoid the temptation to skip it altogether and remember that breakfast doesn’t need to be complicated – grab a fresh bagel, a homemade nutrition bar, a hard-boiled egg, or a couple of cheese sticks – plus an apple, banana or orange – all of which can be eaten on the road, if necessary.  That is much better than skipping the meal completely.

The bottom line is . . . eat breakfast to sustain your energy and stay healthy.

6 Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Egg White Omelet

Egg white omelet
Image by Frank Gruber

This is an excellent choice for heart health and weight management.

If fat intake and cholesterol are concerns, egg white omelets eliminate a lot of fat. Each large egg yolk has 4.5 grams of fat and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, and contain ~200 milligrams of cholesterol, as opposed to egg whites which do not. Egg whites have only 17 calories and no fat. They also contain most of the egg’s protein, about 4 grams of protein in 1 large egg, plus other essential nutrients.

However, it is important to note that the yolk contains essential fatty acids and according to the American Heart Association healthy adults can safely eat one whole egg per day. Your choice should be guided by your personal health concerns and your dietary goals.

Be creative and add lean turkey slices, ham, turkey sausage or even turkey bacon. You can also add cheese and a wide variety of vegetables, such as, tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms and even fresh garlic. The possibilities are endless in making these delicious and hearty breakfast meals that are full of protein and provide a lot of energy for the day ahead.

To round out the meal add a slice of 100% whole-wheat toast and freshly-squeezed juice, or a piece of fresh fruit.

Oatmeal

Oats are whole grains that offer high-fiber and a protein-filled start to your day. Warm oatmeal makes a hearty, healthy  wonderful breakfast. Add fresh berries or bananas for some sweetness and delight.

Rolled oats can also be eaten cold.  Mix 1/4 cup oats with 6 oz. Greek non-fat (or vanilla) yogurt, a little milk to thin it out a bit, a small handful of pecans (walnuts or pine nuts), a dollop of honey (or sweetener – with non-fat yogurt only) and cinnamon to make a great “muesli” that can be prepared the night before and eaten the next morning. If you are partial to sugar, I recommend Stevia®, which has no calories and is an all-natural sugar substitute.

Buckwheat Pancakes

How about some delicious buckwheat pancakes?

Buckwheat is a whole grain that is much healthier than white flour, is loaded with nutrients, and is much less fattening. Since it is low in carbs its impact on blood sugars is minimal and will not cause the spikes that cause you to crash and burn half way through your day.

One 4” buckwheat pancake has 37 calories, 1.34 grams of fat, 5.1 grams of carbs and 1.42 grams of protein. If you need a great recipe, I recommend this one:   Buckwheat Pancakes from Cookie + Kate – it also includes a wonderful recipe for roasted strawberries.

If you must use syrup, use real maple syrup (and use it sparingly), or opt for fresh berries with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, or a swirl of peanut or almond butter.

Bagel and Fruit

Another healthy breakfast idea is a whole grain bagel with a swirl of cream cheese (or peanut butter), served with fresh fruit.

Protein Smoothie

This is the easiest of all the suggestions – any good blender will work.  A fresh fruit smoothie with protein powder is an quick, delicious, healthy way start to your day. Slice and blend! Add a little ice to make it thick and cold. Use only fresh fruit or fresh juice without added sugar for the best energy boost. Canned or bottled juice is basically liquid sugar.

Whole Grain Cereal

Personally, I am not a big fan of cereals, there are usually too many additives for my taste, but if you are a devotee of the packaged cereal, choose wisely.  In addition to additives, many of them are loaded with sugar, so read labels carefully.  Cereal can add a lot of good stuff to your diet — or it can add a whole lot of nothing.

One of the best is Grape Nuts (Original).  Contents: Whole Grain Wheat, Wheat Flour, Sugar, Malted Barley Flour, High Oleic Vegetable Oil (Canola or Sunflower Oil), Salt.

The only other two I can recommend are:  1) Kashi Go Lean – full of fibre and contains seven whole grains. According to Kashi  it contains no artificial ingredients. 2) Kellogg’s All Bran Original – a high-fibre, iron-fortified cereal that is fairly dense without a lot of taste. I recommend that you eat it in small portions or mix with fruit and low fat yogurt to make it more interesting.

The nutrients in whole grain cereals give you long-lasting energy; and because they are so filling, you are less likely to overeat throughout the day.

Add fresh berries, such as strawberries, blackberries, or raspberries to cereals for added sweetness, vitamins and anti-oxidants – avoid refined sugar.

You can also add a little milk (regular or lactose-free), almond milk, rice milk, etc.

Eat Hearty! Eat Healthy! Live Longer!