I love sleep because it’s like a time machine to breakfast.
It amazes me just how many people don’t eat breakfast. What’s the first thing on my mind when I wake up in the morning, you ask? FOOD. I can’t even tell you the last time I skipped breakfast. It’s tied with dinner for my favorite meal of the day. Just kidding – I don’t discriminate. Every meal is my favorite. 🙂
If you think about it, the name “breakfast” makes a lot of sense. Because you’ve been sleeping for (hopefully) around 7-8 hours, you are in a “fasting” state when you wake up in the morning. So, when you eat a meal soon after you get out of bed, you are literally “breaking” the fast. Breakfast refuels your body and actually helps you start burning calories. If you wake up and rush out the door with nothing but a cup of coffee until lunchtime, your body is not gonna be happy about it. Why would it be? You need food to function, so if you’re not providing that, things aren’t going quite like they should inside (metabolically, that is). Your body starts to compensate to make up for the lack of energy [especially carbohydrates], which can have a negative effect on your health and potentially your weight – especially if you make it a habit.
For the record, every meal is important, not just breakfast.
Breakfast promotes weight maintenance and weight loss by maintaining blood sugar levels and metabolism; it can also help curb cravings later in the day. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast regularly have a lower BMI. On top of all that good stuff, eating breakfast can improve your mood and your ability to concentrate on your job and other tasks. People who eat breakfast often partake in other healthy behaviors too, such as exercising regularly.
In order to be healthy, you need to have good eating and exercise habits.
Serious question for you – if you know all the benefits of eating breakfast, why would you not participate in this meal? It’s a time that you can sit by yourself and ponder about life, whilst eating your delicious omelet and toast and drinking your morning cup of joe. (Or if you’re like me, some nice cold H2O.) Or you can eat it while you watch the morning news and learn about all the ridiculous things that are happening in the world. Whatever floats your boat.
Let’s explore the reasons why people might skip breakfast, even when they know it’s the “most important meal of the day”. Maybe they don’t care about their bodies? Or they don’t like breakfast food? No, that can’t be it… most breakfast-skippers say it’s because they don’t have time.
Lack of time is a great excuse for a lot of things. “I wanted to [workout sometime this month/study for that test/do my laundry/clean my room/feed the dogs]… I just didn’t have time.” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There are 1,440 minutes in a day. Use them wisely. Make breakfast a priority. I know what you’re thinking – “I’m already rushing out the door in the morning. I don’t need to add one more thing to my list.” I totally get it. Some days you may not have time to cook a meal & sit down to eat, but at times like this, be prepared! Planning ahead works wonders. Stash some food at work that you can eat when you get there. Stick a Greek yogurt in the staff fridge, or keep some packets of oatmeal there that you can heat up. If nothing else, grab a piece of fruit and a granola bar (with protein + fiber to help keep you full) on your way out of the house. If you have time on the weekend, bake healthy banana bread or blueberry oatmeal bars that you can grab-n-go in the morning.
After all this breakfast talk, I should probably clarify something. In order to get the most benefits from breakfast, make healthy choices and start your day with a balanced meal. Try to include some whole grains (whole grain bread, bagel thins, tortillas, oats), fruits and veggies (choose whole fruits over fruit juice), a lean protein [eggs, peanut butter, lean meat], and/or low-fat dairy [Greek yogurt, skim milk, low-fat cheese]. Having a nutritious meal first thing will set the tone for the day, so you’ll be more likely to make healthy choices later on. Unfortunately, kicking the morning off with a QuikTrip donut on your way to work will probably leave you: a) hungry again in 30 minutes b) craving more sweets and c) eating unhealthy foods all day long. You started the day off with dessert – all hope is lost, right? (It doesn’t have to be, but it’s easy to use that excuse.)
Here are some ideas for a healthy, balanced breakfast:
(mix & match some of these items to make a balanced meal)
- Scrambled eggs with sautéed peppers, spinach, tomatoes (veggies of choice)
- Scrambled eggs + whole wheat toast with PB2 and reduced sugar jelly
- Fruit smoothie (mixed fruits) with Greek yogurt and protein powder for extra calcium & protein
- Oatmeal with any fruit toppings (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, banana slices)
- Greek yogurt + fruit of choice + whole grain cereal as “granola”
- Whole grain cereals (Kashi, Special K have some good options) with low-fat milk
- Whole wheat toast + PB2 + banana
- Protein pancakes or light french toast (made with 45 calorie 100% whole wheat bread, egg beaters, & unsweetened almond milk, topped with fruit!)
- Eggs + deli turkey + low-fat cheese on whole wheat English muffin
- On the go? Choose a healthy granola bar, piece of fruit, or homemade banana bread/muffins
Hint: it’s important to get some protein in your breakfast every day! Your body can only absorb so much protein at once, so try to spread out your intake by having protein at every meal (and snack), rather than all at one sitting. You will get more of the benefits of protein this way.
What to avoid at breakfast:
Because you are in a fasting state, your body is especially sensitive to foods high in sugar/refined carbohydrates. Consuming these foods will make your blood glucose skyrocket and then shoot back down, leaving you feeling sluggish and again, hungry.
|Large, white bagels||100% Whole Wheat Bagel Thins or whole grain toast|
|Sugary cereals (Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms)||Whole grain cereals low in sugar and high in fiber/protein (Kashi, Special K Protein, etc.)|
|Pre-packaged muffins – some of the muffins you will find at the store can pack up to 400-500 calories + a ton of sugar and fat!||Healthy, homemade muffins (find recipes that use banana, Greek yogurt, whole wheat flour, oats, etc. Low or no sugar added!)|
|Large waffles & pancakes made with white flour, drenched in syrup||Pancakes/waffles made with whole wheat flour or oats. Use lite syrup, reduced sugar jelly, fruit puree, or melted PB2 as topping!|
|White biscuits||Whole wheat english muffins|
To anyone who is reading this and is usually a breakfast-skipper, I hope this helped. If nothing else, you have some ideas of easy meals that you can whip up in the morning. It all comes back to being organized and planning ahead. Everyone has a little bit of spare time on the weekends. Use that time to go to the grocery store and pick up some foods you can eat for breakfast for the week, or bake something that you can easily reheat and take to-go in the mornings, such as an egg casserole or oatmeal bars.
Do yourself a favor and wake up 15 minutes earlier so you can squeeze this meal in. (Go to bed earlier if you have to!) It’s important for your mind and your body that you do. And your cubicle mate will probably notice the difference because “you’re not you when you’re hungry”. 😉
Okay y’all – my RD exam is in 4 days so IT’S CRUNCH TIME. Back to studying!
Have a fantastic week!
eat well. live well. be happy.
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