Breakfast…Your Mother Was Right (Again!)

Banana Raisin Cinnamon Oatmeal

So, tell the truth!  Do you run out the door in the morning without eating breakfast?  You have the best of intentions to eat when you get to the office, right?  But when you get there, you have many “fires to put out” and before you know it, its 11:00 am and your stomach is talking to you.  What do you grab?  Anything to hold you over until lunch time, at which point you are so hungry that you don’t make the healthiest of choices, and you eat more than your body needs.

OK, I’ll confess.  During the early years of my career when my kids were young and I had to be at the hospital before 8:00 am, I too found it difficult to eat breakfast before I hit the road.  The mornings were filled with getting my kids ready for school and making sure I could dash out the door in time to beat the morning traffic.  I did eat breakfast when I got to work, but it was while I was doing a zillion other things to get my day started.  It didn’t take me long to realize this was NOT WORKING!  

We all have heard the mantra “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”!   It’s just as important to start your day off with a good breakfast as it is to grab your morning java!  But the comfort of feasting on bacon and eggs that you may remember from your youth is hardly a good start by today’s standards, and the doughnut and coffee that have replaced it in today’s fast paced environment is no better.

So why is breakfast so important?   Research shows that people who eat breakfast regularly are leaner and have improved mental and physical performance than people who skip breakfast.  Eating breakfast helps to boost your metabolism, burn more calories throughout the day and control your appetite, thereby reducing the amount of calories you consume. Those who skip out on this meal tend to gain weight because calories consumed later in the day are more commonly from foods with a higher fat and sugar content.

What about the benefit for your kids?  A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that children who eat breakfast before going to school perform better in math and reading, increase their attention span and improve their overall behavior. Children who do not eat breakfast do not consume the necessary nutrients for their bodies to produce the energy needed to concentrate in school.

Even though they are convenient, stay away from foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates like donuts, pastries, and sugary cereals. These foods provide little or no nutritional value at all.  Sweets like these tend to cause a rapid spike in energy followed by a crash, leaving you feeling tired and hungry.  To avoid these short lasting sugar highs, choose whole grain cereals and breads, fruits, vegetables, and high protein foods. Whole grain products take longer for your body to break down, satisfying your body for a longer period of time.

Quick and Easy Nutritious Breakfast Ideas:

Breakfast Split: Top a small banana with ½ cup of non-fat vanilla yogurt, a ½ cup of non-fat strawberry yogurt, and a ½ cup of whole grain cereal for a creamy, crunchy start to your day.

Morning Medley: Start your day with a cup of oatmeal mixed with a cup of nonfat milk and lightly sweetened with a teaspoon of your choice of brown sugar or honey, topped with raisins. 

Whole-Grain Power Mix: Mix whole-grain cereal, dried fruit, and a small handful of nuts in a bowl with nonfat milk.

Yogurt Parfait: Try a low-fat yogurt of choice mixed with crunchy low-fat granola, dried or fresh fruit, and/or nuts.

Cheese it up: Top your favorite fruit with low fat cottage cheese and enjoy with a toasted whole grain English muffin.

Bonus Tips:

TIP #1: Add ground flax seed to whole grain cereals, oatmeal and yogurt.  Flaxseed is high in omega 3 fatty acid and fiber.  Flax has been shown to reduce the risk of various chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes.

TIP #2:  Make a batch of whole wheat pancakes on Sunday and freeze them.  This way they only have to be heated up during the week and you don’t have to make them from scratch!  Top with fresh fruit slices!

 Please share what you had for breakfast today and if you plan for something healthier tomorrow!

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