Do you eat breakfast? I am always telling my boys that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In fact I have a rule at my house that breakfast is not a choice, it is a requirement. It gives us the energy that we need to get our day going and taking the time for breakfast results in having a positive start to the day. However just “eating” breakfast doesn’t benefit you,”choosing” the right foods are what helps you achieve a great jump start on your day.
I am often told by clients that they either don’t have time for breakfast or they are bored with what they currently eat. So, they skip it or end up at a fast food drive through for this very important meal. You’ve likely heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it improves focus, regulates blood sugar and kick starts your metabolism. What you may not know is that breakfast eaters also have a lower risk for heart disease. In a recent Harvard study of over 26,000 males, respondents that reported not eating breakfast had a 27% higher risk of heart attack. Researchers believe non-breakfast eaters likely eat more later in the day, resulting in metabolic changes.
Tips to build a better breakfast:
Bite This – Eggs. Eggs are often blamed for their cholesterol count. And while this is true, egg-eaters tend to have better blood sugar regulation in the morning.
Not That – Breakfast cereal. This sounds ridiculous, but most breakfast cereals are highly processed- resulting in a quick rise, then drop in blood sugar. If you insist on cereal, include some chopped nuts or an egg on the side for some protein.
Bite This – Whole fruit. Including fruit at breakfast improves fiber, vitamin, mineral AND fluid intake. Choose a variety of seasonal fruits. Citrus, pears and bananas are great this time of year.
Not That – Juice. I am not sure why (and deeply annoyed about) the whole juice craze. I get it if you are ‘vegetable averse’, or have no teeth, but for the majority of us that can chew and digest food normally, it’s better to eat your calories than drink them. I suggest juicing to my clients that are trying to gain weight, not maintain or lose it.
Bite This – Peanut Butter or Almond Butter – Recent research suggests that enjoying peanut butter in the morning provides more satiety than other breakfast fare. Limit to 1-2 Tbsp. due to fat and calorie content. Luckily, most of the fat in peanut butter is mono-unsaturated. Go for “natural” types with oil on the top. These have minimal ingredients, including no molasses or added sugar and no palm oil.
Not That – Sweetened Yogurt – I am a big yogurt fan, but not if it’s loaded with sugar. Soon, the FDA will be overhauling labels and sugar on a label will be listed in tsp. VS grams. For now, remember every 4 grams of sugar equals 1 tsp. of added sugar. Go for yogurt without fruit on the bottom if possible and add your own frozen berries.
Bite This – Nuts – Recent research finds that individuals don’t absorb 100% of the fat in almonds. Chopped nuts of any kind are great in cereal or yogurt as they boost protein, fiber and mono-unsaturated fat content.
Not That – Granola – While granola seems healthy, most are high in sugar, fat and calories. You can certainly make your own, but limit the serving size. Even a half cup can contain up to 200 calories.
Drink This – Coffee or Tea – Both beverages contain powerful disease-fighting phytochemicals and have been found to reduce the incidence of heart disease. What matters is what you add to your coffee or tea. Limit sugar, cream, artificial sweetener and syrups. Add some skim or 1% milk or flavored soy milk to boost calcium and protein.
Not That – Soda (regular OR diet). While many people aren’t coffee or tea drinkers and may go for regular or diet soda in the morning, studies show that individuals drinking 2 regular sodas/day have a 50% increase in heart disease than non-drinkers. And if you think the diet is ‘safer’, think again. Diet soda has also been linked with metabolic abnormalities (ie blood sugar) as well as weigh gain in the abdomen. Just say no to soda if you can.
This article was written by Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD. Lisa Cicciarello Andrews has been a Registered Dietitian in Cincinnati since 1990. She received a Bachelors degree in Nutrition from Youngstown State University and Masters in Nutrition Education at the University of Cincinnati. She completed her dietetic internship at Good Samaritan Hospital where she received the Sister Romuald Award. Lisa was certified by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Adult Weight Management in 2003.
Shelley is a boy mom, marine wife, and is blessed with an amazing family. She loves sharing recipes, travel reviews and tips that focus on helping busy families make memories.