“What do YOU eat?” is a question dietitians often hear from their clients. Although most dietitians would much rather focus on the specific goals and needs of their clients when counseling on nutrition, I do understand the question. What clients actually want to know when they ask this is, what should THEY eat? I make sure my clients understand that their individual dietary needs are different from any other person’s, but will usually gladly answer this question as it can only help to give more ideas on healthy foods to include in one’s own diet.
For today, we will focus on what we all know is the most important meal of the day, yet the meal that is most widely skipped. What type of breakfast eater are you? Research shows that people who skip breakfast take in more total calories in the day then people who eat 3 meals per day. Why would that be? Because when you skip breakfast, or any meal for that matter, you become much hungrier later in the day than you would if you had eaten breakfast. Consequently you end up eating more than you otherwise would if you had a more moderate state of hunger. Another thing that happens when you skip breakfast is that you have a much slower metabolic rate throughout the course of the morning and possibly the rest of the day. On the other hand, to eat breakfast gives your metabolism its very first jump start of the day and allows your rate of calorie burning to soar through the morning. This is why many people report that when they eat breakfast, they feel hungry mid-morning, whereas if they skip breakfast they do not. When our metabolism is burning energy at a rapid rate, we use up energy more quickly and become hungry more frequently. Getting hungry every few hours can actually be an indication you are doing something right!
Those who are not used to eating breakfast often find it difficult to start. So, what’s the point anyway? Well, people who eat a morning meal also have more energy throughout the day and improved concentration and productivity. They generally have a better attitude, feel less stressed, and perform better on tasks that require memory. Breakfast also benefits your physical health, improving your cholesterol level, and helps you lose weight by boosting your metabolism and helping to prevent you from making bad food choices during the day. It is also one of the best opportunities in the whole day to get calcium, a nutrient that is especially important for women, as yogurt and milk are common breakfast foods.
So, what do people generally eat for breakfast? The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that:
• 22 percent of adults eat bread, bagels, English muffins, or similar items for breakfast
• 17 percent eat cold cereal
• 15 percent eat eggs
• 15 percent eat pastries and/or coffee or a soft drink
• 6 percent eat just fruit or juice
• 4 percent eat hot cereal
• 17 percent eat nothing
Although studies have shown it’s more important THAT you eat breakfast than WHAT you eat, it will be to your greatest benefit to emphasize certain nutrients and avoid others.
- Must have: Carbohydrate – provides energy, found in grains, fruit, milk, and yogurt
- Don’t Forget: Protein – makes your energy last, found in milk and meat products
- Also Include: Fiber – fills you up so you don’t eat as many total calories, found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
- And Finally: Multivitamin – because if you take it in the morning you don’t have to worry about forgetting to take it the rest of the day!
- Forget about: Too much fat or grease, found in full-fat meat and dairy products such as regular sausage, bacon, and cheese
- Steer Clear of: Too much sugar, found in doughnuts, many muffins, and many breakfast cereals
So, how do you include carbohydrate, protein, and fiber into your breakfast without too much fat or sugar? Try one of the 5 favorite breakfasts that THIS dietitian eats:
1. Oatmeal with flaxseed and berries + egg
- Use old-fashioned or steel cut oats, try ½ cup dry for women and ¾ dry for men. –Stir in 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed before cooking according to package directions
- While oats & flaxseed are cooking, cook 1 egg (add 1-2 additional egg whites, if desired) in a non-stick pan coated in cooking spray.
- Top oatmeal with fruit, such as ½ sliced banana, ¾ cup berries, apple slices, 2 Tbsp dried cranberries or raisins (dried fruit or apples can be added before cooking)
2. Veggie Omelet/Fruit
- Use frozen sliced tricolor peppers, slice fresh mushrooms, fresh or thawed frozen
- spinach or shredded zucchini. Sautee in 1 tsp olive oil and add 1 egg +1-2
- additional egg whites.
- Have a piece of fruit, fresh fruit salad, or thawed frozen chopped fruit, about 1
3. Protein shake with fruit and flaxseeds
Use 1 scoop whey or soy protein powder mixed with 1 cup 1% milk and ½ cup frozen fruit. Or, use fresh fruit and add ice cubes. If the protein taste is too much, try with ½ scoop.
4. Kashi GoLean or GoLean Crunch Cereal with 1% milk
5. Low Fat Bran muffin (or 2 small ones) with natural peanut or almond butter
6. 2 slices of Canadian bacon, turkey bacon, or turkey sausage aside a whole grain waffle (or 2) with sugar-free syrup
Which of these will you try? Tell me how you like them!