September is Better Breakfast Month for good reason. Eating breakfast every day is one of the best healthy habits I can think of. I preach it religiously.
I’ve heard every reason under the sun why people skip breakfast: they’re not hungry early in the morning (that could be because they are eating lots of calories before going to bed); they don’t have time; and they don’t like breakfast foods.
The benefits of eating breakfast are vast and compelling, making the above reasons, well, just not good enough. Here’s why everyone should be eating breakfast every day:
- Breakfast kick starts the metabolism. You need food to burn calories. It’s that simple. After a night of fasting, the body goes into starvation mode and slows down the metabolism to compensate. Without breakfast to get the metabolism going again, the body stays at the lower level of metabolism, burning less calories then if it had breakfast.
- Breakfast is necessary for meeting daily nutrient needs. A study published by the Journal of Adolescent Health showed that adolescents who eat breakfast are two to five times more likely than their breakfast-skipping counterparts to consume more of a variety of essential vitamins and minerals.
- Eating breakfast helps with weight management. Studies show that adolescents who eat breakfast tend to make better food choices throughout the day. In addition, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that Americans who regularly skip breakfast are 4.5 times more likely to be fat.
- Children who eat breakfast get higher grades in school and are less likely to be depressed, anxious or irritable.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the reasons why people think they can’t eat breakfast. However, all it takes is a little planning and dedication. Here are some tips to overcome the common obstacles:
- Take baby steps. Start by eating something small, like a piece of fruit, glass of milk or cup of yogurt. Something is better than nothing. Slowly build up to a more substantial breakfast of 300-600 calories, depending on what your total daily caloric intake should be.
- Eating breakfast mindfully sets the tone for the day. Set aside at least ten minutes to eat sitting down. However, if this isn’t possible, there are many healthful breakfast options that can be eaten on the run. To lessen the time burden in the morning, prepare breakfast the night before.
- Who said you have to eat typical breakfast foods? As long as what you’re eating is nutrient dense and getting your metabolism going, it doesn’t matter what it is. There’s nothing wrong with eating a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread or rice and beans for breakfast!
As you develop your breakfast habit, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Eat something within the first hour of waking. It’s okay to have something small upon waking, followed by a mid-morning breakfast or snack.
- Aim for at least one serving of fruits or vegetables. Work your way up to two or more.
- Breakfast should make up one-fourth to one-third of daily caloric needs.
- Choose foods that contribute fiber, protein and healthy fats. All are essential nutrients and keep you feeling full and running efficiently until that mid-morning snack or lunch.
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