September is National Better Breakfast Month

We’ve all heard it many times before, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  The mental and physical benefits of eating breakfast are pretty amazing.  Here are just a few:
* It stokes your body’s calorie burning furnace.  Overnight your body’s metabolism slows down and without breakfast it stays at that slower rate.  Breakfast literally breaks the fast and reminds your body to start revving up and burning calories.

* It provides much needed nutrients & energy to start your day.  People who eat breakfast are two to five times more likely than their breakfast-skipping counterparts to consume more of a variety of essential vitamins and minerals throughout the day.

* It Is an effective weight management tool and helps ward off 10 a.m. donut cravings.  According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology Americans who regularly skip breakfast are 4.5 times more likely to be overweight.  Breakfast eaters tend to eat fewer calories, less saturated fat and cholesterol and have better overall nutritional status than people who skip.

* Kids who eat breakfast may do better in school.  Evidence suggests that breakfast consumption may improve cognitive function related to memory, test grades, and school attendance.  One study even shows that children who ate breakfast were less likely to be depressed, anxious, or irritable.

* Breakfast eaters tend to be thinner.  Some people skip breakfast in an effort to cut calories and lose weight.  But research suggests that skipping breakfast is more likely to cause weight gain rather than weight loss.  People who regularly eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight, despite consuming more calories over the course of a day.  Simply eating breakfast may be one of the keys to weight management.

Squeezing in breakfast can be a challenge if it is a new habit, but it doesn’t have to be.  Skip the excuses and start eating something, really just anything, if you are missing out on breakfast all together.  Once you get in the habit of getting a little something on your stomach in the morning then you can gradually work in balance and healthy choices.  Keep these breakfast building tips in mind:

1.  Eat within 1 hour of waking.  Clients often ask how long they can wait before eating.  Eating with an hour is a good goal.
2.  Make it balanced.  Include some high fiber carbohydrate, some lean protein, and some healthy fat.  Without a little protein and healthy fat along for the ride your breakfast will be digested quickly and is not likely to last you very long.  The fiber, protein, and fat will help to stretch that breakfast and give you the nutrients you need.
3.  Include at least 1 fruit or vegetable.  Throw in some spinach, onion, and tomatoes with that scrambled egg or grab an apple or orange.  Try to choose whole fruit instead of juice – the fiber is extra beneficial.

Here are 5 good, balanced breakfast meals to try: 

– Greek yogurt topped a little granola and a fresh sliced peach

– 1 whole egg plus 1 egg white scrambled with 1/4 cup spinach and a pinch of shredded cheese with a slice of whole wheat toast

– High fiber cereal, such as Fiber One, Cheerios, Kashi GoLean, Shredded Wheat, or Raisin Bran with 1/4 cup walnuts or almonds and skim milk

– A homemade egg muffin made with an egg and a slice of cheese on a whole wheat English muffin with a side of sliced strawberries

–  Breakfast burrito made with 1 whole-wheat tortilla, 1/2 cup egg substitute scrambled with 1/2 cup assorted cooked vegetables, and 1 ounce of reduced-fat cheese.

There is no way around it, starting your day off with something nutritious can have huge benefits.  If you are trying to make gradual lifestyle changes to improve your health or lose weight, including breakfast (or boosting up the nutritional quality of the one you are already eating) is a great place to start!