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:
- To re-emphasize that breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day. (Better to skip dinner than breakfast.)
- 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!
Breakfast 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.
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.