It’s hard to imagine, but there was once a time when there weren’t coffee shops on every corner and vending machines in every workplace. Most people ate breakfast at home because it was their only opportunity to nourish themselves for the day’s work, notes Meg Galvin, a World Master Chef who teaches at the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State and is a co-author of the newly released “The SparkPeople Cookbook.”
Now, plenty of people rush out of the house and grab something to eat on the way to work or school or worse, eat nothing at all. And that’s not good, Galvin and other health experts say. Turns out your mother and grandmother were right: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. (And don’t forget to drink water before, during or after breakfast. You’ve just gone for probably several hours without drinking or eating anything and are likely at least a little dehydrated.) “At our house,” Galvin said,” you’re not allowed out the door unless you’ve had breakfast.” But why? And what should – and shouldn’t – you eat before you start your day?
Four reasons why you need breakfast:
1. “Breakfast provides fuel for your brain and body since you’ve essentially been fasting overnight,” said Lisa Andrews, a registered dietitian for Pleasant Ridge-based Sound Bites Nutrition. Eating breakfast improves focus and concentration and has been linked with improved work productivity and higher test scores in kids, she said.
2. Breakfast kick starts your metabolism, Andrews said. You need carbohydrates, fat and protein to stimulate your metabolism. Without them, your body’s ability to use calories slows down, making weight control more difficult, Andrews said.
3. Breakfast helps to maintain blood sugar, which keeps up your energy throughout the morning and prevents fatigue and irritability, Andrews said. Foods with refined carbohydrates and lots of sugar, such as toaster pastries, sweetened cereals, granola and fruit bars, doughnuts and even bagels, get digested too quickly, drop blood sugar and leave you hungrier.
4. Breakfast prevents you from overeating at your next meal, Andrews and Galvin said. “Get into the habit of eating before midday,” Galvin said. “Otherwise, your hunger just builds, and all of a sudden you’ll eat anything.”
Six quick, easy and healthy breakfast ideas
1. Peanut butter or almond butter on whole wheat bread or apples, Andrews and Galvin suggested.
2. Granola, yogurt and fresh fruit, one of Galvin’s go-to breakfasts.
3. Eggs, egg whites or egg substitute cooked in a non-stick pan with vegetables chopped the night before. This takes about as long to cook as toaster pastries, Galvin said.
4. Trail mix made with Cheerios, mixed nuts and raisins – a simple breakfast for kids, Andrews said.
5. Hard boiled eggs made ahead of time with whole grain crackers or toast, Andrews said.
6. Not a breakfast fan? You don’t have to eat conventional breakfast foods in the morning, Galvin pointed out. She suggested snacking on some almonds, pecans, and Andrews recommended low-fat cheese sticks, whole grain crackers and grapes.
A vitamin with breakfast?
Pro: You’ll remember to take it, Andrews said.
Con: “If you take your vitamin in the morning, bran, shredded wheat and other high fiber foods can bind iron and calcium, which impairs absorption,” Lisa said. Many breakfast cereals are already fortified with vitamins, so a multivitamin may not even be necessary.
Andrews suggests people take vitamins before bedtime because some people complain that vitamins make them nauseated, especially pregnant women. So if that’s the case, they’d sleep through it. If you take calcium, take it at a different time of day than a vitamin containing iron, Andrews said. Calcium is best absorbed after meals in small doses, i.e., 500 mg at a time. If you take your multivitamin and calcium together, they compete for the same binding (absorption) site in the small intestine, which impairs utilization of the nutrients, she said.
Lauren Bishop (Cincinnati Enquirer 11/10/2011)