If you were going to take a trip in your car, or you were planning to run errands all day, would you begin by leaving the house with an empty tank, running through the neighborhood or down the highway on fumes, hoping you would make it? Frantically running from place to place, hoping the car would get you there and not give out? Meanwhile the gas indicator on your dash flashes and the little chime reminds you that the car needs fuel? And when you find a gas station just in the nick of time, you realize that it has the most expensive gas? Afterwards, you thought how much better you could have done if you’d only left the house better equipped… well, my friends, that is what you are doing to your body if you elect not to eat breakfast!
Without breakfast, your concentration could suffer, you could be headachy or on the verge of getting a headache, you feel weak and more stressed as your body is on fumes just like the car in the example above. You get to work, feeling even more stressed, because you are rushing to get there, rushing to get started, and you have very little energy to face your day. Your body is really getting fussy; you realize it and grab a donut, pastry, or bagel to quell your hunger pangs. The high carb selection burns quickly, and your sugar high turns into a sugar crash. Lunchtime rolls around and you know in your mind you haven’t eaten anything of great nutritional value, so you when you finally eat, you overeat, how could you not? Then you become like the driver that pays premium for gas. You are paying for it by consuming higher calories.
For me, this is no way to start the day. If you skip breakfast, you are starting out your day on the wrong nutritional foot. Even if you ate a midnight snack, then you are going 12 hours without food! We are starving our bodies for that length of time! You’ve all read how when the body thinks it is being starved it goes in to a sleep mode (a computer analogy) which is a conservation mode and then reacts by lowering its metabolism. By not eating breakfast, you are putting your weight loss in low gear. Is that what you want? I think not.
One huge benefit of eating breakfast, besides having better energy to concentrate and jump into your day is the benefit breakfast has in weight loss. The National Weight Control Registry did a study of a group of 3,000 people who lost at least 60 pounds, and who also kept the weight off for 3 years. 78% of these people ate breakfast every day! Also people who kept weight off for the long term ate breakfast, a low fat diet and exercised an hour or more a day. With breakfast, you are starting out your day with more vigor and energy! For me, I can’t start the day without breakfast. Even if it is an emergency Kashi granola bar to hold me for my second breakfast course, I must have something.
Remember the old saying, “Eat breakfast like a king and dinner like a pauper”? It is pretty darn good advice! Breakfast should be approximately ¼ of your daily intake, that way you have enough in your calorie budget for 3 meals + snacks or treats. It should contain protein so that it can keep hunger at bay since proteins take longer to digest. Breakfast should have complex carbohydrates, whole grains, not pastries and a little fat to help you feel full and to regulate blood sugar. Keep those saturated fats at a minimum. Stay away from the pastries, white breads, syrup and syrups. Make sure you have some protein in your breakfast.
I can hear some of you groaning and saying, “I don’t like breakfast” or “I don’t have time for breakfast”. You make time for what is important! That was a cheap shot, now wasn’t it? It’s true, and breakfast is important! For those of you that feel this way, you need to get creative. For those who don’t like breakfast, split your breakfast into 2 smaller meals. Have a hard-boiled egg with toast if you prefer and then have a mid-morning snack of an apple with a few walnuts or almonds. This takes no time at all and you will feel better for it.
Personally, I make time for breakfast. Mine consists of 3 slices of turkey bacon, and a couple of eggs. I may also eat a couple of eggs “in a basket”, which is an egg cooked in the pan in the middle of a piece of bread that has a hole cut out. You ate this as a kid, remember? Sometimes I would have a hard boiled egg mixed with a low fat dill sauce that I use with fish and make egg salad and put that in-between two slices of toast. Another idea would be to have a fruit and cream cheese sandwich. I have also eaten an apple and peanut butter sandwich. Sometimes I really enjoy having a banana and peanut butter sandwich although it doesn’t hold me as long as the eggs might. If you eat this kind of sandwich, remember that 2 tablespoons of peanut butter is about 200 calories. I spread mine ultra thin on warm bread from the toaster, as it spreads easier that way. Also look for healthier versions of peanut butter without the added sugar and the partially hydrogenated oils that can clog your arteries. I saw a recipe that was another version of the peanut butter and banana sandwich that included a banana in a whole-wheat hot dog bun with peanut butter and raisins. That sounds so good!
One other breakfast alternative is to have some of your dinner leftovers from the night before. There is nothing wrong with having dinner style foods for breakfast! In fact, you’re more likely to include the good combination of protein, carbs and fats if you are eating dinner leftovers. My doctor has a small piece of broiled salmon with small portions of veggies for his breakfast every day, and he is one of the healthiest people I know! The past couple of weeks, one of my favorite breakfasts has been: are you ready for this, are you ready? One of my favorites has been turkey chili! With the combination of turkey and kidney beans, it stays with me the longest, and I know I need that, especially in the first meal of the day. Granted, my chili is mild, so I am not eating a fireball first thing in the morning.
Resolve not to leave your house on an empty tank and to begin eating breakfast. Experiment with different ideas to see what satisfies you nutritionally and is also appealing. Give it some thought to come up with some options that you can eat in a hurry. Something is better than nothing, but if you plan ahead, you can get the best nutritional bargains that fill you up the most nutritionally, without giving you a calorie overload. If you plan ahead, then you won’t be left to chance to eat whatever is there whenever your poor stomach bottoms out from hunger.