We have all heard it said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. From parents to teachers to fitness trainers, breakfast is consistently pushed upon us. But even with the message of breakfast’s importance being spread by so many, it is possibly the most skipped meal of the day. Far too many people still overlook the importance of breakfast.
Excuses abound as for why people skip breakfast. Some people claim that they do not have enough time in the morning to squeeze in breakfast or that they do not like spending the time on breakfast when they could be sleeping or getting ready for their day. Others say that they just are not hungry in the morning or are skipping breakfast to help with losing weight. Another excuse is that they do not like typical breakfast foods and skip breakfast to avoid eating those foods.
Whatever the excuse, however, people who skip breakfast are missing an important chance at creating a better, healthier lifestyle for themselves. Breakfast is important for several reasons, the first being that it literally is “breaking” a “fast”. Your body needs nutrients after the stretch of eight to twelve hours without food (from post-dinner time through the night’s sleep). This is true no matter what your age. For children, breakfast is important to help their developing minds and bodies function at peak levels. For adults, eating a healthy breakfast consistently can help with weight loss, keep up daily productivity, and help with overall health.
Without a good start to the day, one tends to begin feeling tired and irritable much more quickly than those who have enjoyed a healthy breakfast. The tired, dragging feeling you experience is caused by low glucose (blood sugar) from lack of proper nutrition at the beginning of the day. Though many people try to lose weight by skipping breakfast, the lack of healthy food at the start of the day will actually cause the opposite effect in most people. Even a quick piece of fruit in the morning can help kick-start your metabolism to work harder at burning unwanted weight than skipping breakfast entirely.
Having a healthy breakfast helps to regulate your blood sugar all day and sets the stage for the rest of your food choices during the day. Those who eat breakfast are more likely to take in a balanced amount of vitamins and minerals over the course of the day in both snacks and meals. They are also less likely to overeat fatty, cholesterol inducing foods. Kids who eat breakfast are more likely to have their daily nutrient requirements met, increase their concentration, help increase their problem solving and hand-eye coordination skills, and are found to be more alert, creative, and active. Adults experience similar benefits as breakfast helps with productivity, alertness, and situational awareness throughout the day. There is a distinct physical and mental advantage by starting the day off in control of your food intake.
Some of the healthiest choices for breakfast are also quick and easy to prepare and eat. Breakfast does not have to be dreaded or seen as a chore – it can be a relaxing and empowering part of the day. Choose breakfast foods that are healthy, avoiding extra sugars, salts, or fats. Avoid processed foods that have added preservatives and other ingredients that are not beneficial to your health. Be sure to pick foods that are low in sugar to avoid the mid-morning crash of low blood sugar. Sugary foods can give you a quick boost of energy first thing in the morning, but the long-term effect of such foods is only exacerbated exhaustion as the day goes on. Another downside to sugary foods is their tendency to increase weight gain – avoiding sugar will help in weight loss efforts, even with the addition of breakfast to your daily food intake.
For those who are not used to eating breakfast, careful planning is important to ensure success in the continued effort to eat in the morning. Plan your meals ahead of time. If possible, cook and package your breakfast meals in advance. Having food ready to go in the morning that just needs to be unwrapped or warmed up for a few moments will help encourage you to build up the new habit. Do not try to cook a large breakfast every morning. Especially as someone who is new to breakfasts, the added work and time-consuming nature of a large breakfast can be very discouraging. Start small and expand your breakfast selections as you become accustomed to eating in the morning, and as time allows.
For those who are stressed for time in the morning, breakfast is still a possibility! Grab a piece of whole grain toast or a quick yogurt. There are many cereal bars that can be eaten on the go – just be sure to check for whole grains and low sugar content. Smoothies are also a great option for those who need to eat while on their way to work. Many smoothies can be made the night before and simply grabbed as you are getting ready or on your way out the door. If you prefer your smoothies to be freshly made, try cutting up the fruits you will use in advance and spend only a few moments blending your smoothie in the morning. Fruit alone is also a great healthy choice.
People who have a little more time in the morning find themselves with a much larger selection of healthy meals to enjoy as breakfast. Of course, fruit, whole grain toast, and yogurt are still a good choice for those sitting down to breakfast, but the options are much more expansive as you add more time to your morning for breakfast. Cereal is a great choice – hot or cold cereals can be found with high fiber content, again remembering to avoid overly sugary cereals. Whole grain breads can also include bagels, muffins, and English muffins. Protein rich foods are also an excellent breakfast option: ham, bacon, peanut butter, and eggs. Eggs are extremely versatile and can be prepared a number of ways, which makes them a good choice for a family breakfast. The ability to vary your own morning breakfast simply by preparing your eggs in a different way adds to their appeal. Boost your morning yogurt by adding granola or other whole grain cereal. Another great option is to make whole grain waffles or pancakes. These can also be purchased frozen and warmed up in the morning, but again be aware of the sugar content and preservatives.
Breakfast does not have to be limited to these types of “breakfast foods,” however. Since this is a common excuse for not eating breakfast, you should be excited to think about the fact that breakfast can be expanded to include any healthy food option. Anything that is high in protein and whole grains while being low in sugar will make a good morning meal. Leftovers from a healthy dinner or a pita pocket filled with hard-boiled eggs or peanut butter work just as well! Find food that works for you. Be sure to always break your fast with a healthy meal, no matter what your specific food decision may be.
No matter how rushed you may feel in the morning, or how unaccustomed you are to eating breakfast, it is important to find a solution that works for you. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it sets the stage for your food choices, weight loss, attitude, and productivity for the rest of the day. Do not miss out on all the health benefits of breakfast for a simple lack of a few minutes. It really does make all the difference.