Here's why it's smart to take time for the first meal of the day
You forgot to set your alarm and now you are running late. You're trying to fit in some last-minute studying before a big test. You're helping your younger siblings get ready for school. You're trying to coax your child to eat breakfast. You just don't feel like eating before 9 am. There's nothing quick and easy that's also healthy to eat in the morning.
Do any of these sound familiar? Do you routinely skip breakfast or just grab a candy bar and soda from the vending machine when you arrive at school in the morning? Do you ignore all the information about why it is one of the most important meals of the day? If so, read on to find out why you really should eat breakfast every day, and some ideas for easy sit-down or on-the-go options.
Did you know...
- The word actually means “to break the fast” from the previous night.
- In 2011 a study revealed that 31 million Americans skip breakfast each day, and in 2015, the Daily Meal stated that according to a survey conducted by Instantly, only 47% of Americans ate breakfast on a daily basis.
- According to the New York Times, the first cereal was made in the mid-1800s by James Caleb Jackson and had to be soaked overnight to make it soft enough to eat.
Why is breakfast important?
Breakfast feeds your body and mind. It can help you maintain a healthy weight, lose weight, and maintain proper blood sugar levels, which also helps in preventing or managing diabetes. A properly balanced breakfast can help you feel full longer and maintain your energy levels. It also helps you concentrate and stay alert, which can lead to better performing your school or work tasks.
What's for breakfast?
Many of us grew up eating cereal, and often ones filled with sugar! Maybe, we had pancakes or scrambled eggs on special occasions. Today, the variety of healthy food options for breakfast is nearly endless.
So, what should you look for as you create your plan for a breakfast routine? According to the Mayo Clinic, you want to aim for a well-rounded, healthy breakfast that includes at least three of the following four groups: dairy, whole grains, protein, and fruits and vegetables. Here are a few examples of each:
- Dairy – milk, plain yogurt, lower-sugar yogurt, and natural (not processed) cheeses, such as cottage cheese, cream cheese or cheddar.
- Whole grains – bread, waffles, rolls, cereals (cold or hot) that are made with whole grains.
- Protein – Lean meats, such as ground turkey, natural ham (not lunch meat), and grilled or baked chicken; eggs, and nuts.
- Fruits and Vegetables – Blueberries, strawberries, apples, pears, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms. Also, 100% juice without added sugar.
Easy, sit-down options
If you have the time to sit down at home for breakfast, you might want to try some or all of the following.
- Egg with ham on whole-grain toast
- Scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese
- Plain yogurt with fresh fruit and or nuts
- Whole-grain cereal in milk
- Spinach and cheese omelette
- Breakfast burrito – You could also take this one with you!
Quick grab-and-go choices
You might still be saying that you just don't have time to sit down and eat before heading out the door to start your day. Well, here are several suggestions for breakfast food that you can take and eat on-the-go, or when you arrive at school to eat before your class starts.
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Energy balls – made from oats, peanut butter, chocolate chips, honey and more
- Smoothies – the sky is the limit here in terms of what ingredients you use - milk, coconut water, juices, a variety of fruit, spinach, kale, oatmeal, chia seeds, etc.
- Whole-grain toast with peanut butter and banana
- Overnight oats
Need new ideas for breakfast options?
Of course, a dive into a search can lead to overwhelming options, but here are a few sites we found that have some great-looking and delicious-sounding recipes! From simple to extraordinary, these are sites to bookmark so that you have quick access when you are looking for something to try:
Some people like to eat the same or similar food each day for breakfast. Others get tired easily of the same thing day after day. Whichever group you fall into, the most important thing to remember is to have breakfast every, single day!
Make it easy
A little thinking ahead can help save time and reduce stress in the morning. Try recipes that you can make the night before to store in the fridge. If it's something that can't be made ahead, make sure you have all the ingredients (those that don't have to be refrigerated) and tools (pans, spatula, mixer, etc.) ready to go on the counter. That way, as soon as you reach the kitchen in the morning, you can hit the ground running and avoid digging through cabinets or drawers looking for what you need.
The bottom line is that consistently eating a nutritious breakfast is simply one important part of taking good care of yourself. And when you're busy with school, studying, externships, looking for a job, family responsibilities, etc. staying as healthy as possible will help you tackle your to-do list and work toward your goals.
If you weren't eating breakfast on a regular basis before reading this article, we hope it has changed your mind and that you will try one of the suggestions included here for breakfast tomorrow!
This article is part of the weekly blog of the American College for Medical Careers in Orlando, FL. For more about our professional training programs, visit us online.