Ah, the breakfast conundrum. We know it’s the most important meal of the day, and yet, it’s the first one that gets cut from the lineup. When you pass on breakfast, you may think you’re saving on extra calories, but what you’re doing is setting yourself up to have a far more stressful—and possibly craving-heavy—day.
At meQ we talk a LOT about the catch-22 of stress: The more stressed you are, the less able you are to make the changes that could help ease that stress. Heading into your day hungry not only can mean doing so fatigued and irritable, but you may also be more likely to give into cravings later in the day (so much for cutting back calories!)
The average American breakfast is jammed with sugar and empty carbs—faux fruity, extra sweet substitutes for the kind of food that could actually fuel you, instead of send it on a crash course.
So if there is one change you can make this week to get off to a stronger start, make it a better breakfast. Plan your breakfast meal as you would any other healthy meal: by emphasizing whole-foods based protein, complex carbs, and healthy fat—all of which can keep you fuller longer, while preventing your blood sugar from dropping off a cliff before lunch.
Breakfast May Help You Lose Weight
It’s true. WebMD reports:
“Eating breakfast is a daily habit for the “successful losers” who belong to The National Weight Control Registry. These people have maintained a 30-pound (or more) weight loss for at least a year, and some as long as six years. Most — 78% — reported eating breakfast every day, and almost 90% reported eating breakfast at least five days a week – which suggests that starting the day with breakfast is an important strategy to lose weight and keep it off,” says James O. Hill, PhD, the Registry’s co-founder and director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Two studies in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association backed up this finding.” (source: “Lose Weight: Eat Breakfast”)
(WebMD notes that these studies WERE funded by cereal companies, but regardless of the cereal part, it seems to make the point that breakfast does indeed give us an advantage.)
What to Eat?
The American Dietetic Association offers these tips for eating a healthy breakfast:
- Ready-to-eat whole-grain cereal topped with fruit and a cup of yogurt
- Whole-grain waffles topped with peanut butter, fruit or ricotta cheese
- A whole-wheat pita stuffed with sliced hard-cooked eggs
- Hot cereal topped with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice or cloves
- Peanut butter on a bagel with fresh fruit (banana or apple wedges) and low-fat milk
- Breakfast smoothie (milk, fruit and teaspoon of bran, whirled in a blender)
- Vegetable omelet with a bran muffin and orange juice
If your taste buds don’t crave breakfast foods in the morning, try:
- Lean ham on a toasted English muffin and vegetable juice
- Cheese pizza and orange juice
- Grilled vegetables mixed with beans and cilantro topped with cheese
- Heated leftover rice with chopped apples, nuts and cinnamon and fruit juice
…OK, so the ADA thinks cheese pizza is a great morning meal. I’ll admit this suggestion surprises me. Though possibly cold pizza is better than nothing!
Check out some of these amazing breakfast options from Whole Living magazine, which offer savory alternatives to the nauseatingly sweet ones:
- Poached eggs with roasted tomatoes
- Watercress with garlic and scrambled eggs
- Fall veggie quinoa hash
- Salmon salad with curried egg
(Those recipes here).
Lastly, you’re far more likely to make good on the breakfast promise if you have food in the house that’s ready to go. Pick two or three meals you’d like to try and plan it like you would your lunch, so that when you get up in a foggy haze, a healthy choice is within reach.
(Parents: Check out this 2005 study on the effects of breakfast on cognitive function and performance in children.)