Thursday, July 19, 2012

Starting Your Day Off Right: Breakfast Doesn't Have To Be A Burden!

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I have really vivid memories of being in second grade and hating breakfast food with a passion. My mom, being the nutrition nut that she was, insisted that I eat before I went to school, but I found cereal, oatmeal, eggs and the rest of it to be extremely disgusting. It wasn't that I wasn't hungry... I was! I just didn't like the taste of breakfast food.

Clearly, my taste in b'fast was not the only
thing questionable about me. Check me out,
there on the far left.
Sharona (as we call my mother, in loving reference to the 80's jam by the same name) solved the problem at hand by feeding me leftovers from dinner the night before. It wasn't odd to find me eating a plate of spaghetti at 7 am, or maybe munching on some squash casserole. That was my jam. Problem solved! I could finally enjoy breakfast!

My 'breakfast high' was short-lived though, when I was confronted with a bit of a pickle in Mrs. Harrison's second grade classroom. Mrs. Harrison let us come up to the front of the room for reading time, and when she finished the book, she would dismiss us in groups (so as not to cause a stampede). I can't tell you how many days she dismissed us by 'what we had for breakfast.' I would watch nervously as the other children scampered off in groups when she called out 'cereal' or 'eggs'... sometimes she'd even make it all the way to 'croissant' or 'yogurt' ...and still I sat.

Not to be upstaged, she eventually said, 'Lauren, what on earth did you eat for breakfast THIS time?' and I would have to admit, in front of EVERYONE, that I ate a huge plate of beef stroganoff before school. Needless to say, I was always the last person on the floor in the front of the room and I'm sure Mrs. Harrison questioned my mother's rearing techniques.         ...But that is neither here nor there.

The point of the story is: find a breakfast that works for you and start eating breakfast! It REALLY is the most important meal of the day and here's why...

  • During the course of the night, your glycogen stores (which supply your muscles with energy) start to wane. If you don't refuel your body with breakfast, you'll start to lose energy and feel fatigued before lunch.
  • If you start the day with a nutritious breakfast, studies have shown that you are less likely to succumb to cravings and make bad choices throughout the day.
  • Breakfast is an extra opportunity to get your daily requirement of nutrients
  • Breakfast helps to jump start your metabolism by helping your body produce the enzymes needed to metabolize fat and drop those extra pounds. In fact, studies have shown that people who consistently eat a balanced breakfast tend to be less overweight in general.
  • Eating breakfast has been shown to improve your concentration and your work or school performance.

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So what exactly is a balanced breakfast? You should focus on foods that are high in fiber. Carbohydrates are not the enemy when they are the right kind, full of fiber. Stay away from the bagels, donuts and muffins and instead opt for a piece of whole grain toast, a whole grain waffle or a piece of fruit. You'll also need some protein for energy and alertness. You could go with an egg or even some natural peanut butter (ie. not JIF or PeterPan). It's also good to throw in some low-fat dairy options (if you eat dairy). Yogurt is my top pick because the good bacteria, or probiotics, in yogurt help the body absorb nutrients and regulate the growth of harmful bacteria in the body.

If you are the type to bolt out the door in the morning and just don't have time to sit down for a meal, here's an idea! The night before, blend together a fruit smoothie and refrigerate it overnight so that all you have to do in the morning is open the fridge, grab it and go! I find that if I make things ahead of time, I'm more apt to stick to my guns and actually eat something good in the morning!

And hey... if your thing is beef stroganoff in the a.m., who am I to judge?!?

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