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Choose the best breakfast:

A. Leftover cold cheese pizza and orange juice
B. Peanut butter and banana sandwich and milk
C. Cold cereal with raisins and soy milk
D. Shake made with frozen fruit, milk, juice, and wheat germ
E. Poptarts, a hard-boiled egg, and vegetable juice

If you chose A, B, C, D, or E, then you're correct! The best breakfast is the one that you'll eat regularly (and is relatively well-balanced).

The Neglected Meal

Gone are the days when it was unthinkable to start the day without a good hearty breakfast. Now people have more excuses than you can shake a spatula at for why they cannot or do not eat a morning meal. Do any of these sound familiar?:

  • I do not have time.
  • I am not hungry in the morning.
  • I am trying to lose weight.
  • I do not like breakfast foods.
  • When I eat breakfast, I am more hungry mid-morning.

The Case for Breakfast

We have all heard it—breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But you know what, it is true. Here are some reasons why:

Breakfast is the time to refuel. After fasting for the 8-12 hours after dinner and during sleep, your body needs to replenish its energy supply. The brain is especially in need of a fill-up, because it has no place to store its main energy source: glucose, which comes from the foods we eat. Without eating you won’t be able to think or concentrate. Muscles also rely on glucose for a portion of their energy.

Eating breakfast is associated with better attitudes about work and school. People who pass on a morning meal are often tired, irritable, or restless in the morning.

Eating breakfast regularly is associated with maintaining a healthful weight. According to the American Dietetic Association, kids who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight. There has also been extensive research to show that adults who skip breakfast are more likely to be overweight and obese.

Breakfast can add to the healthfulness of your diet. Breakfast food can be an important source of the following nutrients in your diet:

No More Excuses

Now it's time to let go of those excuses.

I do not have time. A little planning may help.

  • Have quick foods on hand:
    • Dry cereal, have a variety of types for mixing
    • Single-serving containers of ]]>yogurt]]>
    • English muffins or whole wheat bread or bagels
    • Fresh, canned, or dried fruit
    • Instant oatmeal
  • Spend time on the weekend or a week night preparing easy-to-grab foods for the week:
    • Make your own muffins, breads, or granola
    • Hard-boil several eggs
    • Make pancake batter and keep it in the fridge; in the morning, ladle some on the griddle and top with fresh fruit
    • The night before, whirl together a breakfast shake—milk/yogurt, fruit, ice, and wheat germ—and store in the fridge
  • Pack foods that you can eat on the commute or at your desk:
    • A Ziploc bag of dry cereal or trail mix
    • Cereal bar, granola bar, or low-fat POP tarts
    • Can of vegetable juice

I am not hungry in the morning. Eat something small, such as toast, juice, or an egg, at breakfast time. Bring along a snack for when you are hungry mid-morning.

I am trying to lose weight. Several studies have found that people who eat breakfast tend to weigh less and be more successful at losing weight than those who do not eat breakfast. Skipping breakfast sets you up to be ravenously hungry later in the day, which can lead to overeating. Of course, you still need to make healthful choices. Be aware of portion sizes. For example, many bagel-shop bagels and muffins are much higher in calories than you think. Also, stay away from some of the traditional, fatty breakfast foods, including:

  • Bacon
  • Breakfast sausage
  • Hash browns
  • Biscuits with gravy
  • Doughnuts and pastries
  • Foods with lots of cheese

I do not like breakfast foods. Anything can be a breakfast food:

  • Last night's leftovers and a piece of fruit
  • Grilled cheese and tomato sandwich
  • English muffin with peanut butter and banana
  • Bagel topped with avocado spread and sliced fresh tomato
  • Cheese, crackers, and fruit
  • Tomato soup and crackers
  • Pizza, hot or cold, with orange juice
  • Pita stuffed with low-fat cheese and salsa
  • Cottage cheese with fresh or canned fruit and graham crackers
  • Smoked salmon, cream cheese, and cucumber on a bagel
  • Baked potato topped with cottage cheese or salsa

When I eat breakfast, I'm more hungry mid-morning. Hunger pangs are a healthy, normal signal from your body. Bring along a snack for these times. Or try eating a little more protein or fat with breakfast to keep you satiated longer.

Back to Breakfast

Eating a healthful breakfast helps prepare your mind and body for the day ahead. Try some of these ideas to bring breakfast back into your routine.