Americans love to eat! Well, at least they do for lunch, dinner and snacks! Breakfast, however, can be a different story. Whatever happened to that age-old advice to "start the day with a hearty breakfast?" These days, many of us either don't eat at all or we grab 'n' go: a bagel, donut or a muffin and wash it all down with a hit of caffeine. If we have the time, we may swing by the local fast food joint for a breakfast "whatever." Is this what our bodies really need to get us going in the morning?
Breakfast is really just that: breaking - the - fast. When you wake up, you've been without food for 10-12 hours so you need to power up your body to meet the day. Tempted to skip breakfast? Don't! You'll miss out on important nutrients that your body needs to keep you healthy and maintain steady energy and blood sugar. That means you may be setting yourself up for a crash by mid-morning and even late afternoon. And without breakfast, you may be depending on caffeine to fuel your body, which just doesn't do it! You'll be running off adrenaline - not the sustained nutrition of a balanced breakfast - and that puts stress on your body. Want one more good reason? Studies have shown that if you skip breakfast, you may be more likely to make up those missed calories by over-eating later in the day. Not very desirable, right?
Okay, so assuming that I've convinced you that breakfast is important, why not grab a pastry or pancakes? Several reasons:
- Eating sweets and refined carbohydrates in the morning can quickly raise and subsequently drop your blood sugar, making you crave more sweets later in the day.
- When you eat sugary foods, you're not getting the proteins, fiber and nutrients you need to fuel your body efficiently.
- Since our bodies are particularly sensitive to sugars, they should be minimized at breakfast unless buffered by sufficient amounts of protein, fiber and fat.
About now you may be wondering what you should be eating for breakfast. Healthy meals in general need to be balanced with proteins, good carbs and healthy fats - and breakfast is no exception. Here are some ideas for delicious breakfasts, from out-the-door quick to weekend fare, that deliver all the good stuff you need to get going in the morning.
- Go for high fiber, low sugar cereal with chopped nuts, dried fruits and your favorite milk - try coconut or almond for a twist.
- Blend up a fresh fruit smoothie with yogurt or kefir. Great with a side of whole grain toast and natural peanut butter. Or give this Whey Protein Breakfast Blast a try.
- Cook up some whole grain oatmeal or other whole grain hot cereal and serve with nuts (I love walnuts) and fruit (try raisins or sliced banana).
- Spread natural nut butters on a variety of whole grain breads, crackers or bagels.
- Toast some whole grain waffles and top with nut butter and fresh fruit. Turkey or tempeh bacon is a great side.
- Try eggs and veggies in this Better Breakfast Pita Pocket.
- Dress up your favorite yogurt or cottage cheese with almonds and chopped apple, blueberries or dried apricots. Add a whole grain English muffin with cream cheese, if you like.
- Scramble up some tofu or eggs with breakfast-style veggies, fresh fruit and whole grain crackers.
- Prepare a homemade version of the famous egg and Canadian bacon sandwich on a whole wheat English muffin.
- Make a vegan wrap of tempeh "bacon," tofu scrambled "eggs" and sliced avocado rolled in a whole wheat flour tortilla.
- Make "cheese toast" by melting cheddar on sprouted wheat bread and serve with an apple or a pear.
Got a favorite tip or some healthy motivation for eating breakfast? Let me hear about it!