• Eat Your Breakfast

    Would you like to feel happier, more energized, experience improved memory and concentration, and more easily achieve your weight loss goals without feeling hungry?

    Then eat breakfast! According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, as well as studies referenced in the June 2011 Harvard Health Newsletter, eating a healthy breakfast each morning provides multiple benefits. A healthy breakfast helps:

    • Improve brain function and enhance memory

    • Reduce irritability

    • Boost energy

    • Lower levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol

    • Reduce risk of obesity, heart disease, colon cancer, and diabetes

    • Control your weight

    • Stabilize blood sugar levels

    When you skip breakfast, you’re missing out on a simple way to maintain good health and achieve your weight loss goals. Maybe you don’t have anything against breakfast, it’s just that you don’t have time in the morning to eat it. Or maybe, you’re simply not hungry that early in the day. What to do?

    EXCUSES, EXCUSES Excuse #1: But I’m not hungry!

    A frequent reason for not feeling hungry in the morning is that your stomach is still full from the night before. If you tend to eat dinner late, try moving it earlier or making your meal lighter. Do you get the munchies while watching television in the evening? Late-night snacking is another common reason people aren’t hungry in the morning.

    Occasionally, battling late-night snacking requires more than simple will power. According to a study by the International Journal of Obesity, some people suffer from night eating syndrome (NES). This is often associated with stress. The study showed that practicing twenty minutes of muscle relaxation every day, in addition to eating a healthy breakfast every morning, helped counteract the effects of this condition.

    Excuse #2: But I don’t have time in the morning!

    If you skip breakfast because you barely skate out the door on time each morning, then the solution is to plan ahead. Some options:

    • Plan meals ahead of time.

    • Pull out dry ingredients the night before - bowls or pans you may need.

    • Make breakfast the night before so in the morning you can just heat it and go.

    • Pack up a breakfast-to-go option the night before.

    Excuse #3: I'll gain weight!

    In truth, skipping breakfast in your efforts to lose weight is counterproductive. A study reported on Medical News Today’s website compared the brain scans and eating patterns of those who ate breakfast with those who skipped it. The results showed that those who miss that first morning meal are much more likely to overindulge later in the day, with a tendency to choose high-calorie unhealthy options like those delicious jelly donuts a co-worker brought in.

    OVERCOMING THE EXCUSES

    No matter what your excuse is, it’s beneficial to conquer it and start regularly eating breakfast. The key to getting all the great health benefits mentioned above, however, depends largely on what you choose to eat as you begin your day. You want to be sure your breakfast isn’t loaded with sugar and fats. The Mayo Clinic advises keeping these breakfast basics in mind:

    • Whole grains

    • Low-fat protein

    • Low-fat dairy

    • Fruits & vegetables

    When combined, these core food groups are chock full of good-for-your body ingredients that will leave you feeling full and satisfied for hours. Great, right? But now you may be wondering how this translates into actual breakfast food.

    GREAT BREAKFAST OPTIONS

    photo courtesy of jaybergesenAny of the following will provide a healthy start to your day:

    • Instant oatmeal made with low-fat milk. Add raisins or dried cranberries and chopped walnuts for some added texture. Another option is to mix in ¼-cup unsweetened applesauce and sprinkle with apple pie spice or cinnamon.

    • Create a breakfast parfait. Layer low-fat plain yogurt with your favorite crunchy cereal and blueberries.

    • Whip up a breakfast smoothie using low-fat milk or yogurt, frozen strawberries, and a banana. Toss in a spoonful of wheat germ or whey protein if you like.

    • Top a whole-grain toaster waffle with low-fat yogurt and fresh fruit, or spread with peanut butter.

    • Stuff a whole-wheat pita with one sliced, hard-boiled egg and low-fat shredded cheese.

    • Make a low-calorie breakfast burrito by spreading peanut butter on a low-carb flour tortilla. Add a whole banana and roll it up.

    • Spread low-fat cream cheese on a whole-grain toasted bagel. Top it with sliced strawberries.

    • Multigrain pancakes with fruit and yogurt

    • Egg-white omelet with vegetables

    If traditional breakfast foods aren’t your thing, try:

    • Leftover vegetable pizza

    • A tortilla filled with vegetables, salsa, and low-fat shredded cheese

    • Whole-wheat crackers with low-fat cheese or peanut butter

    • Microwave-baked potato topped with broccoli and grated Parmesan cheese

    • A whole-wheat sandwich with lean meat, low-fat cheese, and as much lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and sweet peppers as you wish

    Cold Cereal Conundrum

    If you prefer a simple bowl of cold cereal for breakfast, it’s important to note that not all cereals are created equal. When making your choice, check the Nutrition Facts label on the box and look for these key items:

    • Fiber: Aim high! Go for 3 to 5 (or more) grams per serving.

    • Sugar: Aim low! The healthiest options contain 5 or less grams of sugar per serving.

    Cereal bars

    These can be a good option. But, you must make certain they meet the same guidelines as the dry cereal. Balance your meal with some fruit and low-fat milk or yogurt.

    The Bottom Line

    Choosing the right breakfast foods not only refuel your body but also provide you with myriad positive health and weight control benefits you don’t want to miss out on. Start first thing tomorrow morning. Your brain and body will thank you.

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