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The Dangers of Skipping Breakfast

Since we were young we have all been told never to skip breakfast because it is the most important meal of the day. I guess not many of you listened. Approximately 31 million Americans skip breakfast every day. There is a laundry list of excuses people give for doing so. Yes our mornings are busy and who really has time to think about breakfast. There just aren’t enough hours in day. Or maybe skipping breakfast is easier because you can just make up for it during lunch. Or my favorite, I am skipping breakfast because I want to lose weight. Well, no one really explained to us why it is the most important meal of the day so naturally, we come up with a 1001 excuses to NOT do it. Smart? Maybe not.

Breakfast is the first meal we consume when we wake up in the morning. We just slept for 6-8 hours straight (maybe even more) and now our body is looking to refuel and replenish what it lost during sleeptime. We are literally Breaking our Fast! Say you go to sleep at 11pm and wake up at 7am, your body has gone without food for 8 hours. Can you imagine going 8 hours without food while you’re awake? Unless you are fasting for religion, probably not. Why is it any different after sleep? And if that isn’t enough to convince you here is a list:

TOP 5 reasons why skipping breakfast is DANGEROUS:

    1. You overeat at lunch.
      This usually leads to weight gain and a rather sluggish afternoon. Which in turn will have you eating sugars or coffee to keep you awake when 2 o’clock comes around. Really a snowball effect that only ends when you are back in bed.
    2. You have decreased attention span and productivity.
      Your tank is empty. You feel sluggish and start lagging. Mental focus needs high octane fuel. Your mind wants to race in the mornings. Its fresh, rested and recovered from the day before and is ready to go. But you never give it the chance, since there is nothing it can feed off. You end up feeling sleepy and start yawning not to mention start to think about lunch around 10am.
    3. Increases your chances of being obese or overweight
      Missing out on breakfast creates an uncontrollable hunger by lunch. You become an unconscious eater by eating whatever you can get your hands on at lunch. You tend to order more and add items you don’t really need. I remember when I was a teen during the month of Ramadan, where Muslims observe fasting, I couldn’t wait to break my fast at sundown. I would pile my plate with everything on the table, healthy or not and then some. This is that hunger that has no boundaries and no advice in the world can stop you from satisfying it, also knows as binge eating. Good luck!
    4. Slows down your metabolism
      Skipping meals is not the answer to weight loss as I mentioned in the point above. Not only does it cause weight gain but also lowers your blood sugar level which can lead to diabetes. To keep the weight off you need to keep your metabolism up. Metabolism plays a key role in helping you burn fat and keep the extra pounds off. If you are under the impression that missing breakfast will help you lose weight, I would re-evaluate your health start eating right. Eat right in moderate portions and keep an active lifestyle. The weight will fall off on its own.
    5. Less energy throughout the day
      Your body takes in food, breaks it up and distributes it throughout your body. It takes what it needs in the forms of sugars and sends that to your bloodstream in turn providing you with energy for the rest of the day. Continuously not giving your body what it needs will lead you down the path to diabetes, which is far worse than missing breakfast. Why do athletes and gym goers have high energy pre-workout meals? It will sustain the effort they put forth in lifting weights and exercising so they can get thru their workout more effectively. The same goes for an average person who is just starting his day and going to work.

One of the best times to eat breakfast is within an hour after waking up. This will ensure a normal and regulated blood sugar and high energy levels throughout the day.

What should your breakfast consist of?

Carbs:

When you go to sleep at night your body enters a state of fasting. All of the carbs that you had eaten throughout the day are used up to make sure your body functions optimally throughout the night. When you wake up in the morning you have very little, if any, carbs leftover in storage. This is why you NEED to eat breakfast. If you skip breakfast (in hopes of weight loss, more energy or whatever your reason is) your body is literally crying out for carbs so it can have the energy to start your day off and keep you going. Come lunch time the need for carbs will be so intense that you will end up inhaling your food and later on probably feel guilty about it.

Moral of the story: Eat breakfast and make sure it contains carbs (complex carbs are best).

But what is a complex carb?

There are two types of carbs, simple and complex. Simple carbs are made up of 1 or 2 sugar molecules. Some simple carbs we encounter during our everyday lives are table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, candy, sodas, and store bought fruit juices. Complex carbs on the other hand are made up of several sugar molecules. These can include starches such as potatoes and pumpkins, whole grain breads and cereals, green leafy veggies, beans and legumes.

Why are complex carbs better for me?

Simple carbs only provide you energy for a short period of time and you need a lot more of it to satisfy your hunger. Complex carbs, on the other hand, are more filling and they keep you fuller for longer. Most complex carbs also have a high content of fiber which is responsible for filling you up, regulating your bowel movements and maintaining a healthy heart.

What are some ways I can incorporate complex carbs in my breakfast?

I am glad you asked. Below, I have listed 4 great ways of adding complex carbs in your diet.

  1. Oatmeal: It is loaded with fiber and antioxidants. It is a very versatile breakfast food, which you can pair with fruits, dried fruits, nuts or just some simple sweetener. There are many recipes online to make overnight oats, or slow cooker oats. The high fiber content in oatmeal helps stabilize blood sugar, regulate cholesterol, reduce high blood pressure and improve your overall health.
  2. Whole grain/Whole wheat bread: These are also loaded with fiber. Pair them some nut butter and top it with fruit for a fulfilling breakfast.
  3. Whole grain tortilla wraps: whether you like a savory egg wrap or a sweet wrap tossing out the white tortilla and replacing it with the whole wheat/whole grain tortilla will do wonders for your body.
  4. Whole wheat pancakes: I am a sucker for chocolate chip pancakes. I make the whole wheat batter and add chocolate chips in it. I love topping off my pancake with bananas or strawberries, I like the freshness it adds to my breakfast.

 

Fruits and Veggies

We all know fruits and veggies are good for us. However, most of us tend to gravitate towards fruits more than we do veggies. Even as young kids, if we were given the option of a fruit or veggie we would grab the fruit, without giving it a second thought. But having a breakfast that includes fruits AND veggies can have a lot of benefits. They contain a wide variety of nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber and folate, to name a few. All of these nutrients lower our risk for various diseases and increase our chances of living a longer and healthier life. Here are 5 ways of adding more fruits and vegetables in your breakfast:

  1. Smoothie. You would be surprised at how long a fruit and veggie smoothie will keep you full. Sometimes I like combining my fruits and veggies and making a green smoothie, with kale, carrots, green apples, berries and some mint. But most of the time I will make an all fruit smoothie. My husband is big on working out, so I add protein powder to his smoothie. It definitely makes it more filling and it adds a creamier taste to the smoothie.
  2. Omelettes: I love making veggie omelettes with cheese. My favorite veggies to add in my omelette mushrooms, onions, garlic and leafy greens (spinach, kale etc). Chopped up or shredded veggies also are great ways of getting veggies in. You can also make wraps with omelettes and tomatoes, peppers, spinach or any other veggie as a filler.
  3. Toppings: You can add bananas, berries, or dried fruit on top of oatmeal or in cereal for a fruitful breakfast! They also make for a great topping on pancakes and waffles. Plus because of the sugar from the fruits, you can skip the syrup.
  4. Fruit Juices: Make fresh orange juice or any other fruit juice that you enjoy. Make it the night before if you have hectic mornings. For those who don’t enjoy the pulp, you can use the pulp in muffins or any other baked goods.
  5. Hash: Use root vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes for a delicious hash. You can add a variety of spices. I love adding garlic, onions, parsley and red chili powder in my hash. Add celery or carrots for an extra crunch.

 

Dairy

Got milk? Remember those commercials, well they were popular for a very good reason. Dairy is crucial part of our diet. It is filled with calcium, vitamin D, potassium and protein. Calcium is essential for building bones and keeping our teeth healthy. Vitamin D is also helpful in maintain healthy bone mass. Potassium helps better blood pressure, improve cholesterol, and regulate heart rhythms. And lastly, let’s get into the benefits of protein down below. But first let’s go over 4 good sources of dairy:

  1. Milk: add it in your cereal, oatmeal or smoothies. I drink full fat milk, the others taste way too watered down and I personally believe there are other ways of eliminating fat from our diets.
  2. Yogurt: Flavored or plain yogurt both are good options. If you don’t like the tarty flavor or regular yogurt you can add a drizzle of honey or fruits.
  3. Cheese: Yum yum YUMMY!
  4. Lactose-Free alternatives: There are many people who are lactose-intolerant. Today in the market there are many lactose free options, such as soy milk or almond milk.

 

Protein

There are so many reasons protein is good for you, I can sit here and go on about it for hours, but I won’t do that. Firstly, protein makes the building blocks of your muscles, skin and blood. Protein is loaded with B Vitamins, which help you body build tissue, and keep your nervous system function. Also, protein is one of the best things to have on your breakfast platter. Why? Well, protein helps you stay fuller for longer periods of time. Here are 3 excellent ways of adding protein into your diet:

  1. Eggs: I love eggs. They are great to add into your diet. They are so many ways you can serve an egg. My favorite way is to make an omelette or having it hard-boiled, but you can poach it, scramble it, have it sunny-side up, frittatas or a quiche. There are just so many things you can do with eggs and they are loaded with protein, which is a BIG plus.
  2. Greek Yogurt: make a parfait, eat it by itself, or add it to a smoothie.
  3. Cheese: Cottage cheese and ricotta cheese can serve as great toppers on waffles or pancakes. You can also use cheese in your wraps or breakfast sandwiches.

 

Remember, start everyday with breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day, so make time for it. Wake up a little earlier or prepare your breakfast the night before. Your health is your top priority and it starts with a good breakfast. There are several ways of making your breakfast wholesome and fulfilling. Eat healthy and stay healthy.

Remember moderation is KEY!

 

References:

  1. http://sru.avifoodweb.com/nutrilearn_09_breakfast.pdf
  2. http://bit.ly/1BVFfe1
  3. http://bit.ly/1A1qxwn (Potassium benefits)

Sumi K.

A student of Nutrition.

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