Breakfast of Champions
by Amy Parker, RD
Push that snooze button one less time and you could be doing something to help in achieving a healthier lifestyle, eating breakfast. Mom was right (even if you may not want to admit it); breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Although we have all heard it before, let’s review the many concrete reasons to start your day off with a solid meal.
It provides essential nutrients
Your body needs 50 different nutrients everyday and breakfast provides some of those vitamins and minerals. Breakfast eaters are more likely to meet their nutrient intake requirements. If you skip breakfast you may not make up for those nutrients later in the day.
It keeps you slim
Many studies have shown that those who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight than breakfast skippers. A morning meal revs up your metabolism. Also, those who skip breakfast tend to eat more throughout the rest of the day.
It sets the tone for a healthy lifestyle
Those who eat breakfast tend to make healthier lifestyle choices overall, including healthy food choices and more physical activity. Eating breakfast may reduce your risk of serious illness including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer.
Although any breakfast is better than none at all, here are some general guidelines to help get your day off to the best start;
Choose 3 out of the 4 food groups
All balanced meals should include at least 3 of the 4 food groups from Canada’s Food Guide; Vegetables and Fruit, Grain Products, Milk and Alternatives and Meat and Alternatives.
Energy to last
To give your body long lasting supplies of energy think about a bigger breakfast. Ideally, breakfast ought to provide about 25% of your daily calories. This will help you last through the morning and lessen the temptation for empty calories at your morning coffee break.
Make sure to get protein
Protein is a key ingredient in a healthy breakfast. Protein will come from either the Milk and Alternatives of Meat and Alternatives groups.
Fibre helps you to feel full longer. Where simple carbohydrates spike blood-sugar levels and leave the body starving for energy later on, a whole grain choice, high in fibre, will help sustain you until lunch.
After a night of sleeping, your body is literally starving in the morning. Eating a healthy breakfast gives your metabolism that kick-start which will help you burn calories all day. Some people have a hard time eating when they first wake up. As long as you eat within 2 hours of waking you are doing fine. If you currently don’t eat breakfast, try having anything, even just a piece of fruit to start off with. Once you retrain your body you will wake up hungry and ready to eat. It is also imperative that you look at late night eating habits. If you eat up until you go to bed, of course you will feel full in the morning. Stop snacking 2-3 hours before bed. Keep reading for ideas to get your day started off right!
Power your Day - Quick and Easy Breakfast to Go!
Blueberry Smoothie with “Toasted” Cheese Sandwich
Prep time: 4 minutes. Ingredients: 2 slices whole-wheat bread, ½ cup high fibre, whole grain cereal, ½ to 1 cup skim milk, 1 cup frozen berries, 1 oz low fat cheese. Pop the bread in the toaster. Mix the cereal, milk and berries in the blender, blend till smooth. Stick the cheese between the warm slices of toast and microwave for 15 seconds. It tastes grilled - but there’s no wait.
Banana Wrap-up’s with Milk
Prep time: 2 minutes. Ingredients: 2 Tbsp peanut butter, 2 waffles (try to find a variety with added fibre), 1 medium banana, 1 cup skim or 1% milk. Microwave the waffles briefly and spread a tablespoon of peanut butter over each. Cut the banana in half lengthwise and place a half on each waffle. Roll it up to make a wrap. Wash down with the milk.
One Minute Omelet Sandwich
Prep time: 2 minutes. Ingredients: 1 egg, ¾ cup thawed spinach, 1 slice Canadian bacon (diced), ¼ cup salsa, 2 slices whole-wheat bread, 1 cup unsweetened fruit juice. Stir together the egg, spinach and Canadian bacon and pour onto a plate coated with nonstick spray. Microwave for 1 minute or until egg is fully cooked. Spread salsa and fold egg in half to make an omelet, then sandwich between the two slices of toast. Take a juice box and you are ready to go.
Other ideas for a quick breakfast
- Stuff a whole wheat pita with cottage cheese and sliced fruit
- Grab a hard boiled egg, ½ a bagel and juice
- Try 2 slices of leftover pizza with an apple
- Spread peanut butter and jam on a flour tortilla and roll it up. Take a juice box or milk
- Make your own parfait; layer low fat yogurt, frozen fruit and your favorite cereal
- Take a cereal bar, cheese string and juice box
Remember breakfast does not need to be the same every day. Use a little creativity to get those much needed nutrients and start your day the healthy way.
About the Author:
Amy Parker is a Registered Dietitian who regularly writes food and nutrition articles. She graduated from the University of Alberta and completed a one year internship in the Calgary Health Region. She currently specializes in prenatal nutrition and is passionate about helping her clients have the healthiest babies possible. Her other areas of interest include weight loss, childhood obesity and healthy food that tastes good too!