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Breaking the Fast

You might hate to admit it, but your mom and grandmother were right – breakfast IS the most important meal of the day.

Breakfast literally breaks the overnight fast, the period of time during sleep when your body is not receiving any nourishment through eating. If your body continues in that fasting state, it will compensate for the lack of energy by slowing down your metabolism as a protective mechanism. A slower metabolism means calories are not burned as quickly or efficiently. Eating breakfast jump starts your metabolism.

Studies have shown that individuals who eat breakfast tend to weigh less than individuals who skip breakfast. Breakfast skippers tend to overeat at other meals. So, aside from jump starting your metabolism, breakfast keeps hunger at bay and helps individuals make better food choices throughout the rest of the day. As a matter of fact, 80 percent of people who have lost weight and successfully maintained their weight loss are breakfast eaters, according to data from the National Weight Control Registry.

The benefits of breakfast extend past the weight issue. Studies have shown that breakfast eaters have better blood glucose control and that it also improves diet quality. Research shows that breakfast skippers are less likely to meet recommended levels for important nutrients like folic acid, calcium, etc.

In children, studies suggest that those who eat breakfast demonstrate an increased ability to learn. Specifically, students who do not eat breakfast perform more poorly on math, matching, memory and creativity test. Children who skip breakfast tend to be absent or late to school more than children who do eat breakfast consistently. There is some evidence that shows that eating breakfast improves mood, which translates into improved behavior in the classroom.

So whether it’s the classroom or the boardroom, making time for breakfast is important.  If time is always an issue in the morning, here are some strategies that might help.

  • Set the breakfast table the night before. Put the cereal bowls, spoons, milk glasses and even the cereal box on the table so it is ready to go in the morning.
  • No time to eat at home? Pack a breakfast to go!
  • Children can take advantage of their school breakfast program if it is offered.

Breakfast ideas:

  • Start with fruit. Have fruit in the house so it is readily accessible, or bring out the blender and whip up a fruit smoothie with yogurt. It’s fast, delicious and nutritious.
  • Choose whole grain breads and cereals. Think outside the box and include whole-wheat tortillas, pita or flat breads too. Oatmeal is also quick and nutritious.
  • Include lean sources of protein for breakfast such as low fat yogurt and cheeses.  Hard boil eggs the night before and eat one for breakfast.
  • Add nuts to your cereal, oatmeal or yogurt.
  • You CAN have vegetables for breakfast. Think about putting tomatoes and green peppers in your scrambled eggs, or a small piece of vegetable quiche.

Think of other breakfast ideas such as:

  • A cup of soup
  • Scrambled eggs wrapped in a whole grain tortilla
  • Low fat cottage cheese with fruit
  • Nut butters and fruit
  • Leftovers from dinner

When you start your day making healthy choices, it sets the tone for the rest of the day.  Make breakfast a priority for a healthier you!

About Julia Salomón MS, RD, CD

Julia is the corporate dietitian at Affinity Health System and also a nutrition educator. She works at various sites throughout the organization working with Affinity’s employee wellness program. She earned her Master’s degree in nutrition science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996 and became a dietitian shortly thereafter. Julia has worked on several nutrition projects abroad as well as domestically. Before joining Affinity Health System in June of 2011, she worked as a college dietitian and later in the school nutrition field. She has earned certificates of training in adult and childhood weight management. Julia has a special interest in nutrition, public health and wellness.

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