March 16, 2010

How many days within the past week did you eat breakfast? Over 90% of people agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and 75% believe eating breakfast will give them more energy, but fewer than 50% fit it in seven days a week.

Eating breakfast every day is vital for a number of reasons. Breakfast skippers are four and a half times more likely to be overweight, and studies show that people who eat breakfast naturally eat fewer calories all day. According to a recent survey, about 60% say the top reason for skipping is not feeling hungry in the morning, and over 50% say they don't have time. If you struggle with breakfast barriers, here are my suggestions for knocking them down:

If you're not hungry: re-train your body. Start by eating or drinking something small, like a golf ball sized serving of almonds. After about a week, add something else, like organic skim or soy milk. The following week, add a third item, like a mini banana. Within a month's time, strive for a balanced breakfast that contains four parts:

  1. A whole grain (oatmeal, whole grain cereal or whole grain bread)
  2. A lean protein (nonfat yogurt, low fat cheese, an egg or egg whites, organic skim or soy milk)
  3. Produce (veggies in your omelet or egg sandwich or fruit in your oatmeal)
  4. A healthy fat (nuts or seeds, natural nut butter, avocado or extra virgin olive oil).

After about two weeks, you should start feeling that gnawing, growling sensation each morning, maybe even when you first wake up.

If time is your obstacle: keep some healthy grab-n-go options on hand, such as:

  • Low fat string cheese or mini babybels (both individually wrapped and ready to eat), shelled edamame you can toss in a sealable container and take with you, or individual sized boxes of low fat milk or soy milk (the ones that look like juice boxes)
  • Whole grain crackers or a small handful of dry cereal you can eat with your hands, like O or square shapes
  • Unsalted nuts or seeds, about the size of a golf ball
  • Unsweetened dried fruit (make up a few baggies so they're ready to go), again aim for a golf ball sized portion

By combining a few snack foods, you can build a complete breakfast. A mini babybel, serving of whole grain crackers, and quarter cup each of almonds and unsweetened dried figs provides about 450 calories (350-500 is perfect for breakfast), packs a ton of nutrients and will keep your metabolism revved up all morning.

So are you a frequent skipper or is breakfast your can't miss meal? When you miss it, do you eat more all day? Please share!


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