Foodie Friday: Eating breakfast Means Better Food Choices All Day

Skip the most important meal of the day? 

You’d never do something like that, right?

I mean, except for those days when the kids get up late and the morning devolves into chaos. Oh, and those days when you’re due to give a speech at the board meeting and the thought of food before public speaking turns your stomach. And wait, doesn’t a cup of coffee count as “breakfast” anyhow?

Breakfast should make up 30 percent of your day’s calories, says registered dietitian Debbi Beauvais, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Eating breakfast—actual food—can do more for you than that cappuccino. The early morning calories can make you more alert and productive throughout the day.

And if you think skipping breakfast is your own little trick to weight loss, think again. Studies show that eating breakfast can help you lose weight.

Celebrity trainer Bob Harper of NBC’s The Biggest Loser agrees.

“I’ve been working with overweight people for many years now, and there is one common thread that I see, and that is overweight people hardly ever eat breakfast. That is the worst thing you can do,” says Harper, who is also a “Quaker Coach” with Quaker Oats. “Fueling your body with what it needs will help to get your metabolism revved up, and when that happens, you can burn fat.”

Convinced yet? If you’re just now hopping on the breakfast bandwagon, here are options to choose from based on your breakfast personality.

The On-the-Go Breakfast

When in a rush, you may be tempted to grab a doughnut for the road, but sugary options like pastries are high in calories and only give you a short-lived burst of energy. You will be sleepy again before you know it.

“What I do,” Harper says, “is keep a dozen hard-boiled eggs in my fridge that I can grab and go. I also have a serving of berries in a baggie in my fridge that I can grab.”

Beauvais suggests portable yogurts, such as Go-Gurt. Your kids may already love these, and they’re great for adults, too. (No spoon needed!) “Yogurt brings some protein and gives you that feeling of satiety that will make you not want to munch later.” She also recommends low-fat granola that you can put in a bag and take with you.

The ‘But I’m Not Hungry in the Morning’ Breakfast

Skipping breakfast means you likely will end up eating more calories later, Beauvais says. “Most people eat their last meal between 5 and 8 p.m. It’s a long time before your body gets nourishment again.” That’s why it’s important to, quite literally, break the fast.

If, however, you have trained your body to skip breakfast, you might feel a little queasy at the thought of a large meal right after waking up. That’s OK, Beauvais says. “You kind of have to start and get your body used to it.”

She suggests getting used to one egg, scrambled. “It’s a very mild option, easy on the digestive system,” she says. Eggs are a great source of protein and the nutrient choline, which is instrumental in brain health.

Work up to adding a piece of whole-grain toast (lightly buttered if you must). Whole grains are lower in fat and have been linked to lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.

The Kid-Friendly Breakfast

This may not come as a shock, but kids love cereal. The key is to give them plenty of healthy options, which will keep breakfast from getting boring.

“Whole grains should be the first ingredient,” Beauvais says. Next, she says, look at the sugar content and aim to keep this as low as possible. Then, make note of the portion size. “Often, a [cereal] bowl is two to three times the portion size.” Usually, one ounce of cereal is the right amount, which may mean shopping for some new, smaller cereal bowls.

Harper, not surprisingly, is an oatmeal advocate. “Instant [oatmeal] packages literally take about two minutes. They’ve made it so easy,” he says. Keep it fun by offering up topping options for oatmeal, such as diced fresh fruit, cinnamon or dried cranberries.

The Relaxing Weekend Breakfast

It’s Saturday morning and you actually have time to make breakfast. What’s the best option?

French toast made from whole-grain bread is one of Beauvais’ favorites. Rest assured, it’s OK to indulge in some carbohydrates and low-calorie syrup once a week. Another option is to use whole-wheat flour for pancakes, then mix in fruit, such as blueberries or diced apples.

“A healthy breakfast is a great way to start your day,” Beauvais says. “Everyone should work their way toward that.” 

How GMC Can Help

Or if you're ready to explore more breakfast options, visit Gwinnett Medical Center’s Pinterest boards. There you’ll find not only recipes, but nutrition, health and wellness tips, too.


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