As a kid you probably heard in health class that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You probably also heard it from your mama as well, and she made sure you had something before you went out the door for the day.
Turns out, they both were right. The earliest reference to breakfast is in the late 1700’s, and literally translates to “break fast,” meaning to eat after not eating for a long time, or a morning meal to break the fast from your last meal the day before. Even if you eat late at night, most folks will have their supper no later than 8 p.m. and maybe a snack around 9 p.m. If you average rising at 6 a.m., that means your body has been without fuel for nine hours and needs to fill up on energy for the day.
However, due to packed schedules and in the rush to get out the door and get going, most adults skip breakfast. Once you get to work, you may gulp something on break (with little to no nutrition or “fuel”) or wait until lunch to have your first meal of the day. By mid-afternoon your energy level has hit rock bottom and you’re dragging through the rest of the day.
Skipping breakfast is not a good idea for several reasons. The obvious is to kick-start your day and to give you the energy you need for the morning. But when you wait too long to fill up on nutrition (i.e. from supper the night before to mid-morning or lunch the next day), your body goes into emergency mode, or a prolonged fasting state. You’ve gone so long without eating that every bit of the food you eat your body is hanging on to for dear life and stores as a fat reserve to use for the next time you fast. In other words, your body is thinking, “I don’t know when I’m going to get anything to eat again; I’d better save this for later.” Other potentially harmful side effects of skipping breakfast include:
- A higher risk of diabetes and heart disease. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical nutrition found that women who ate breakfast an average of zero to six times per week were at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than women who at breakfast every day (http://www.livescience.com/39598-reasons-never-skip-breakfast.html). Other studies have found that people who skipped breakfast were more likely to have high cholesterol, blood sugar and a larger waist size, all of which increase the risk of heart disease.
- Increased risk of obesity. The Journal of Rural Medicine published a study which found that people who skipped breakfast had a much higher risk of obesity, even more than those who ate before going to bed (livestrong.com/article/431003-can-skipping-breakfast-cause-you-to-gain-weight/).
- Improves memory/cognitive functions. According to a study published in Pediatrics, students scored higher on memory tests (healthyeating.sfgate.com/influence-having-breakfast-cognitive-performance-3262.html). Other studies have shown that adults who ate breakfast on a regular basis had better memory retrieval and could more effectively manage complex and challenging information.
One of the main reasons adults give for not eating breakfast is no time. Even if they do eat, it’s usually on the run, some version of a breakfast bar that processed and made from white flour and refined sugar and has little to no nutritional value, or we breeze through the drive-through and gulp down a high fat and calorie breakfast. The reality is there are many healthy breakfast options that can be prepared either very quickly or ahead of time, such as:
- Make an omelet the night before, it reheats very well.
- Cook eggs omelet-style, then roll into a whole-grain tortilla with sliced red peppers and spinach (can be sautéed ahead of time).
- Combine whole-grain oatmeal, unsweetened almond milk and some fruit in a bowl. Refrigerate overnight and heat the next morning in the microwave.
- Whole-grain toast with almond butter and a banana or apple. No time for toast? Make a to-go sandwich out of it!
- Make a fruit and yogurt smoothie the night before (plain yogurt, fruit and unsweetened almond milk), give it a quick blend the next morning and pour in a to-go cup.
If that still doesn’t convince you, think of the loved ones in your life. If we want to encourage the people in our lives to eat healthier and begin our day with a nutritious breakfast, especially our children and grandchildren, we need to let them see us setting the example!
If you are still struggling with breakfast ideas, give me a shout out at email@example.com. I’ll be glad to help with a breakfast menu that’s quick, easy and tailored to suit your palate!