By Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN
Author of The Small Change Diet
Since we were little, we’ve all heard the same message to “Start your day with breakfast.” Some of us have taken it to heart, while others rebel. The bottom line is that our moms were right (once again), we should eat breakfast for so many reasons.
Think of it this way: You can’t run a car on empty, the same way you can’t run your body without food. Food is fuel for our bodies—if you want to start your day right, you must eat. Without food it’s harder to concentrate, you’re more likely to be tired, and you’re probably thinking about lunch way sooner than you should. Breakfast is the first step in keeping your day on track.
I tell my patients to eat within one hour of waking. I know for some people that’s truly impossible, therefore I’m a little flexible with this rule and say you should eat as soon as you can. But honestly, the longer you wait to eat, the hungrier you’re likely to get—and when you do get around to it you’re more likely to eat more than you should or not as healthy as you should. Almost every patient I’ve had who has developed a healthier eating schedule, one that includes breakfast, loses weight.
What does a healthy breakfast look like? The ideal meal should include:
—High-fiber carbohydrates for quick energy
—Lean protein that digests slowly and keeps you full longer
—Healthy fat for satiety
This breakfast combo should keep you satisfied for at least 3 hours. If it doesn’t, and you feel hungrier after eating breakfast (which many of my patients complain about) then it is probably because it wasn’t balanced following the above guidelines.
Some of my favorite breakfasts:
—1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup high-fiber cereal (i.e. Kashi Go Lean) and 1 cup blueberries
—A Thomas’ whole-wheat English muffin with 2 tbsp. natural peanut butter and a sliced small banana
—1 cup high-fiber cereal (i.e. Shredded Wheat or Fiber 1) with 1 cup nonfat milk, sprinkle of almonds or walnuts, and 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
—1/2 cup dry oats cooked with 1 cup nonfat milk, topped with 1 tbsp. chia seeds, sprinkle of cinnamon, and 1/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese
—3 scrambled egg whites, 2 slices whole-wheat toast smeared with tofu cream cheese, topped with slice tomato
However, if you really aren’t hungry first thing in the morning, you don’t have to eat a huge breakfast, just something to get you started. Try these quick snacks:
—1 granola-type bar (i.e. Luna, Kashi, or KIND)
—1 cup lowfat milk or a hard-boiled egg and a banana
—1 cup Greek yogurt flavored with fruit (i.e. Chobani or Fage)
—1 whole-grain crispbread with 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter
If you don’t like breakfast foods at all, try having lunch or dinner foods for your AM meal. The take-home message here is to eat something. Let us know how you’re doing with this, because deep down I believe everyone is a breakfast eater—or should be.
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