Was your mom right in saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Scientific studies seem to show eating in the morning has a positive impact on kids’ academic performance, the athlete’s morning workout, and can even help the dieter stick to her program and lose a few more pounds! While 96% of Americans believe their moms that breakfast is important, only two out of three make time for breakfast…and of those, 40% are eating on the run. In our hurry to start the day, we don’t make time to fuel up for the day. What you eat is as important, if not more important, that when you eat. As a breakfast food lover, I have found that the bagel and coffee will leave me hungrier than if I just didn’t eat anything, while the full-up farmer’s breakfast of pancakes with syrup, eggs, bacon, and juice can leave me stuffed and lethargic. After 30 years of highly scientific experimentation (er, a lifespan of eating a wide variety of breakfast foods) as well as looking into what non-biased research seems to indicate about the morning meal, here is what I have found..
Slow down on sugar: while Lucky Charms may be more appealing that oatmeal, high sugar breakfasts tend to lead to an energy crash and more hunger than something with fiber or protein. My rule of thumb is to look at the nutrition label – if there is more than twice as much sugar as fiber then leave it at the grocery store. If there is as much or more fiber than sugar it’s a winner!
Fill up on fiber: Fiber is a wonderful calorie-free filler that most Americans do not get enough of. Oatmeal, whole-grain breads, and nut butters will keep you fuller for longer than a low-fiber cereal, bagel, or donut. Choose something with at least 3 grams, but preferably 5 grams of fiber per serving if you tend to get hungry quickly.
Go for the protein: Still hungry after eating that bowl of oatmeal with a few raisins? Try adding some yogurt or milk, or eating a hard-boiled egg on the side. Protein is digested more slowly than carbs and has the same amount of calories per gram, so it stays in your digestive system and fills you up longer.
Not convinced you can slip a meal into your morning routine? Here’s some ideas that may help!
Super Speedy (45seconds to 2 minutes):
- hard-boil 7 eggs and have one each morning along with a piece of fruit or glass of juice
- eat one 6oz container lowfat yogurt with grapenuts, ground flax, or wheat germ for fiber
- drink a glass of milk and eat a lowfat, high-fiber granola bar or a banana
Slightly Speedy: (5-10 minutes)
- toast 100% whole wheat bread, bagels, or frozen waffles and spread with peanut butter and jam or syrup
- eat a bowl of Cheerios or any of the Kashi cereals with 1% milk and a small piece of fruit
- lowfat yogurt with granola and a piece of fruit
Weekend specials (20-40 minutes)
- omelettes with mixed veggies, ham, and cheese,
- poached egg with cheese and lowfat ham on a whole-wheat english muffin, one orange
- whole-grain waffles or pancakes with berries and toasted nuts
- scrambled eggs and toast with fruit preserves, sliced oranges on the side
- check out my Favorite Breakfast Foods for more weekender recipes