By Florencia Tagliavini, Nutritionist
Image by Healthy Balance EC
Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day
We've heard forever that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, however, so many of us skip breakfast because we are in a rush or not hungry. The truth is that there is a large and growing body of scientific evidence that now supports the claim that breakfast really is a very important meal.
Kids + Breakfast
It's especially important for kids, whose growing bodies need nutrients and fuel. Studies suggest that kids who don't eat breakfast have a harder time focusing, they perform worse on tests, and they become more tired in school. They may also be cranky or restless and more likely to eat junk food during the day and be overweight. Skipping the first morning meal does not just affect kids but anyone at any stage of life. Many studies have linked eating breakfast to good health, including better memory and concentration, lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, and lower chances of getting diabetes, heart disease, and being overweight.
Top Benefits of Eating Breakfast
Increases energy: Breaking the fast with a fueling morning meal is the best way to start the day and make sure you have the energy necessary for school, work or whatever activity you may need to perform.
Increases concentration: Which can help you perform better at work or school. Studies suggest that eating a nutritious breakfast improves brain function - particularly memory and recall. This is essential for soaking up new knowledge and applying it later for a big exam.
Helps to meet daily nutrition requirements: Eating a nutritious breakfast gives you a chance to include more vitamins, minerals and other nutrients essential for good health.
Weight management: Usually people who skip breakfast end up overeating during other meals, snacking on junk food and/or making unhealthy choices when selecting food which can lead to being overweight.
Encourages healthy eating habits: Taking the time to prepare and eat breakfast, whether you prepare something the night before, or choose a grab-and-go option or cook and sit down to enjoy your morning meal- its an important part of a morning routine can build healthy eating habits that last a lifetime in your kids.
What's for Breakfast?
Your choice of breakfast is just as important as making sure you eat breakfast and it can make all the difference in your energy, mood, and performance throughout the day.
Staying away from the popular sugar loaded cereals, drinks and spreads is key. An ideal breakfast will include complex carbohydrates, fiber, a good amount of protein and heart-healthy fats. This combination will keep you satisfied and focused through the morning.
Incorporate fruits and vegetables to get your vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Add nuts and seeds that provide fiber, protein, heart-healthy fats and other essential nutrients. Stick to whole grains which are a good source of energy and will contribute to maintaining blood sugars stable due to their fiber content. Don't forget about getting enough protein in the morning which will help you meet your daily needs will help get you from one meal to the next feeling satisfied.
Here are a few breakfast ideas:
- Oatmeal: Choose steel cut oats or rolled oats which contain more fiber than instant oatmeal. Try using a nut milk instead of water to boost nutrition and provide healthy fats. Top with fresh fruit.
- Overnight oats: A great option to prepare the night before. It tastes delicious when made with nut milk or when a nut butter is added. Choose different ingredients to mix in such as fresh or dried fruit, cacao, chia seeds, coconut flakes, etc.
- Cereals: If you want to have a cereal, make sure you choose wisely. Cereal should provide about 5g of fiber per serving and less than 5g of sugar. Avoid cereals that list multiple types of added sugar, such as high-fructose corn syrup, honey, brown sugar, and dextrose. Look for cereals marketed to adults, which are usually lower in sugar than cereals aimed at children. Try it with a nut milk and include some sliced fruit.
- Yogurt parfait: Layer plain yogurt with your crunchy cereal and blueberries or another fruit. Add some chia seeds or nut butter for fiber.
- Breakfast smoothie: So many possible delicious and healthy combinations. Use fruits, nut butter or nut milk and sneak some green veggies to make a super nutritious and fueling smoothie to take on-the-go.
- Whole wheat toaster waffle: Spread a nut butter and apple slices or any other fruit.
- Whole grain toast: Toasts on their own are bland and not very nutritious but pair with a naturally sweet cashew butter and sliced banana and strawberry or with scrambled eggs and cheese.
- English muffin: Try whole wheat to include more fiber, spread some hummus and veggies. Add some eggs or cheese and make it a sandwich.
- Banana roll-up: Spread peanut butter on a whole-wheat tortilla. Add a peeled, whole banana and roll it up.
- Eggs any way: Pair with whole grain toasts and nut butter. Add sauteed veggies.
If you are not hungry when you wake up, you can try delaying your breakfast an hour or two but make sure your first meal is a healthy combination of nutrients that fuel your day.
If you are in a rush, there are many grab-and-go options to choose from such as taking a yogurt with some oats and fruit with you, preparing some overnight oats the night before, or healthy homemade granola bars to take along with some fruit or take a banana roll-up.