What’s the big deal about breakfast? Everyone says breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But breakfast is tough. It’s hard enough to get up on time to get the kids up, get them off to school and get yourself to work. Add breakfast into the mix and you have to stop, make something to eat, plus coffee and get out the door; it can all be just too much. Making the coffee takes long enough! How many times have you said to yourself: “I don’t have time for breakfast” or “I’m not hungry until later in the morning?” How many times have you handed the kids a Pop Tart(R) or breakfast bar to eat on the way to school?
Why is breakfast so important?
Let’s start with the word “breakfast.” It is is exactly what it says – it’s a break in your overnight fast, or extended period of not eating (unless you’re taking Ambien, in which case you may have eaten over night but not know it ). Breakfast really is your body’s first jolt to wake up; it’s not the alarm clock or that first burst of coffee flowing through your body. If you don’t eat first thing in the morning, it’s like starting your car with no oil; the engine may go a few blocks, but then it dies. Without breakfast, your body is running on adrenaline and caffeine but little else, so by 10 in the morning, you either can’t keep your eyes open or you’re ready to chew someone’s arm off.
When you regularly skip breakfast, your body goes into starvation mode, according to Dr. Lori Shemek, author of the book “How To Fight FATflammation.” “When you skip breakfast, your body has to get fed one way or another, so it starts with the most nutrient-dense area – your muscles. If you skip breakfast thinking it’ll help in your weight loss, you’re actually doing the opposite; the fat stays and the muscles weaken.”
So what do you do if you don’t like or don’t have time for breakfast? Here are some tips for a turning breakfast into a healthy meal without lots of time:
- Breakfast is one way of treating yourself and your loved ones well. Think of breakfast as a loving hug to your children, your spouse or, if you’re single, yourself. There’s nothing better than sending everyone out the door well-equipped for the day. It doesn’t have to be huge – it can be unsweetened cereal, oatmeal, or, better yet, fresh fruit and unsweetened Greek yogurt.
- Plan breakfast the night before. Get all your ingredients together on the counter and set reminders, like a dish and utensils. If you typically don’t have time in the mornings, go ahead and make it while you’re at it. Pack nutritious breakfasts for everyone to eat on the way to school and the office. Get the coffee all set up, so all you have to do is press a button, grab the sacks from the refrigerator and you’re off.
- A healthy breakfast should be simple and consist of fiber and protein, but it doesn’t have to be “breakfast food.” Apple slices with “real” peanut butter or cheese are light and quick but have all the needed nutrients.
- Think outside the cereal box. In earlier times, breakfast consisted of a piece of fish or meat (protein) and bread. Make a breakfast sandwich of leftovers from the night before!
- Avoid fast food breakfasts and sweetened breakfasts. The sugar in sweetened cereals can spike blood sugar, only for it to drop dramatically shortly after, resulting in feeling tired and unable to concentrate.
Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. Make it count!