Why is breakfast important?

by Chrissy
(Charlotte, NC, USA)

Chrissy's question...

I usually don't eat breakast, and I don't understand why it's that important.

Suzy's answer…

This is such a great question! You are not alone in skipping breakfast, but most nutritionists agree that taking time for breakfast is a better way to start your day.

Someone once said that we should, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper.” I'm not sure that any of us should ever eat like some kings did, but this quote generally refers to the relative amount of food we eat at each meal, and not necessarily the type or quality of the fare.

Unfortunately for many of us, this order is reversed, as we consume our largest or “kingly” meal at suppertime, while breakfast, if eaten at all, is often the smallest and poorest quality meal of the day.

As the name suggests, breakfast is the meal where you “break” your overnight “fast.” Your body has used a lot of its resources repairing and replenishing while you slept, and it is ready for a new infusion of nutrients such as protein, healthy fats and carbs, vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Morning is also a time when your body needs some fiber to help stimulate your digestive tract to eliminate the waste products that have accumulated overnight.

I don’t know if weight control is an issue for you, but contrary to what you might think, abstaining from breakfast may actually hinder your attempts to lose weight, since your metabolism will slow down, to compensate for the lack of calories. In addition, you may find yourself consuming more food later in the day than you would have if you had eaten breakfast.

An empty stomach in the morning may also have an effect on concentration, memory, mood, resistance to illness, your ability to maintain body temperature and even the sweetness of your breath. These same issues can affect your productivity; so if you are skipping breakfast because you are too busy, think about how much more you could get done if you weren’t hampered by the negative effects of skipping breakfast.

Here are some strategies for making a healthy breakfast part of your day:

*Make time for breakfast a priority, even if it means getting to bed a little earlier in order to get up earlier.

*Include a balance of protein, carbs and healthy fats when you choose breakfast foods, and educate yourself about which foods are significant sources of each of these nutrients.

*You can program your breakfast, especially if you have a busy schedule, so you can include it with a minimum of time and effort. (“Programming” means you have several healthy breakfast choices that you choose from each day that are easy to make or can be prepared ahead of time.

*Do your research and know the menu items that are the best choices if you have to eat breakfast out.

Ideas for a healthy breakfast

There are as many variations of a healthy breakfast as there are tastes and preferences in the world. The breakfasts you choose will depend on what you like, how much time you have to prepare it, and your access to the food supply based on your food budget and where you live.

I find that during the week when time is limited, I will choose a simpler meal and then on the weekend, breakfast is a more elaborate meal.

Here are some of my favorite choices for a quick breakfast:

*Greek Yogurt with blueberries (fresh in season, frozen out of season), sliced almonds and a sprinkle of freshly ground flax seed

*Oatmeal (I prefer the Scottish version, but you can use rolled oats, quick cooking or steel cut oats) with a chopped apple or berries, some cinnamon (be sure it’s real Ceylon cinnamon!) and a sprinkle of Chia seeds or ground flaxseed

*Fat free cottage cheese with fruit and walnut pieces and whole-grain toast with old-fashioned peanut butter

*A smoothie made with fruit/vegetables, yogurt, flax seed. Dr. Oz’s “green drink” is a good choice if you can handle it

*Homemade granola with milk/yogurt and fruit

Here are some ideas for on the weekend or when you have more time:

*Scrambled eggs garnished with avocado and tomato slices, sweet potato wedges, whole-grain toast

*Whole grain pancakes with cranberries or apple chunks, served with (a small amount of ) real maple syrup

*Kashi 7-grain hot cereal served with walnuts, fruit and milk

*Poached eggs on whole-grain toast with fruit on the side

*Omelette stuffed with veggies, served with whole-grain toast

What if you just don’t like “breakfast food?”

The answer is simple. If you don’t like breakfast food, then don’t eat breakfast food! There is no law that says you can’t eat chili for breakfast or a casserole or any other food that is not normally eaten at breakfast. The important thing is that you eat breakfast and that you choose healthy foods with a balance of protein, carbs and good fats.

I hope this helps, Chrissy, and that you will decide to include a healthy breakfast in your daily routine!

Thanks for visiting our healthy eating site!

Eat and be healthy with my warmest regards,

Suzy Staywell

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