I am certain you have heard this message before and it will not be the last time either: “Breakfast is the MOST important meal of the day!”
Why you ask?
Breakfast breaks your overnight fast, jump-starts your metabolism for the day (Yes, you will be hungrier initially but will eat less towards the end of the day), provides fuel to the brain so that you can think clearly, and makes the hunger pains go away (admit it, hunger pains can be distracting in that morning meeting). In 1975, the School Breakfast Program became a permanent entitlement program to support health and learning in low-income children. The federal government feels breakfast is that important that the funded program continues 38 years later. Breakfast helps children learn, score better on tests, control body weight, and improve nutritional adequacy, especially the intake of fruits and low-fat dairy.
So why would breakfast not be just important for you? It is!
What constitutes a breakfast? Well, not just coffee unless it is a 400-calorie drink from Starbucks and that is just a lot of empty calories. I say anything goes, but you do want to focus on nutrient dense choices and include a source of healthy protein (aim for 20 to 30 grams of protein). Here are some great ideas for you to try:
- Greek Yogurt mixed with ground flax seed, chia seeds, granola or walnuts
- Scrambled egg whites (or whole eggs; limit to 3 yolks per week) wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla (add vegetables and low-fat cheese for improved taste)
- Hot oatmeal prepared with milk and berries; add some walnuts
- Low-fat cottage cheese and fruit
- High fiber cereal with low-fat milk (try to find a cereal with at least 5 grams of protein per serving)
- Peanut butter and banana wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla
- Leftovers such as pizza or whatever sounds good
- Fruit smoothie with low-fat dairy or soy base; add ground flax seed or chia seeds for beneficial omega-3s
Even though it is imperative that you eat breakfast, you still need to keep those portions realistic. Moderation, balance, and variety are keys to good nutrition. If you have any other great breakfast ideas, please feel free to share in the comment section. I would love to hear what you like to eat for breakfast.
-Larissa T. Brophy, MS, RDN, LD