Fuel Up in the Morning
By Brooke Parker
With school fast approaching, a quick refresher on the importance of breakfast is beneficial. Whether you are a student, parent of a student, a working adult, or like me, a stay-at-home mom, breakfast is definitely an important meal of the day. After years of experience in my profession as a dietitian I think I have heard all of the excuses for not eating breakfast. I would like to address some of these reasons or myths and offer some insight.
Excuse/Myth #1 – If I don’t eat breakfast I will eat fewer calories and lose weight.
Explanation: The word breakfast broken down comes out break fast. We are indeed breaking a fast. The body’s metabolism goes into a slower mode while sleeping. To maximize a fast metabolism you must end this slowed state by eating in the morning. If, on the other hand, you wait until lunch to eat, the body will conserve energy all morning long. Also, if your body knows it will be fed regularly with no meal-skipping, it will burn calories more readily. Bottom line: a higher metabolism burns calories all day long. Breakfast promotes an optimal metabolism
Excuse/Myth #2 – If I eat breakfast, I am hungrier all day.
Explanation: Breakfast does indeed kick-start the metabolism for the day, initiating normal hunger/fullness cues. If the right combinations of foods are eaten the hunger signals should come about every 3-4 hours. Don’t be afraid of hunger, it is actually a sign of an active metabolism. The key is to ward off hunger for approximately 3 hours. This is achieved by consuming adequate amounts of either protein and or/fiber. Protein breakfast foods can last for 3-4 hours, fiber foods sometimes even longer. Examples of protein include: milk, yogurt, eggs, meats, peanut butter, nuts, and cheese. High fiber choices include: oatmeal, cereals with at least 5g per serving, and breads with at least 3g per serving. Whole fruits also provide beneficial fiber. A proper breakfast needs one of these components along with the traditional cereal, toast, pancakes, etc. If you become hungry quickly add more protein and fiber. This tip can be crucial for students who must wait a long time before lunch.
Excuse/Myth #3 – I just don’t have time.
Explanation: I just don’t buy this one. There are way too many grab-and-go foods available today. Pre-planning is the only requirement. This starts at the grocery store and ends on the way out the door. The following are some ideas to help get you started. Notice that there are protein and/or fiber in each choice.
• Whole grain bagel with cream cheese
• Yogurt parfait prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge or yogurt with a small package/baggie of granola
• Fruit and cottage cheese
• Hot water in an insulated mug and a packet of oatmeal
• Peanut butter sandwich (additions – banana slices, honey, jam)
• Bran Muffins
• Pita with ham and melted cheese
• Smoothie frozen in individual cups
• High-fiber granola bar and milk or juice box
Breakfast should enhance your morning, not add more stress. With some proper planning and a little bit of preparation, breakfast can be both simple and delicious. Good luck and happy eating!
Brooke Parker is a Registered Dietitian working for Utah State University. She specializes in Eating Disordered patients and loves helping her clients enjoy food again. She is the mother of three wonderfully active children and lives in Utah.