Breakfast: A Great Way to Start the Day and the New Year
Tiffany Batsakis, MS, RD, LD
Dietitian for Meals on Wheels of San Antonio
Most Americans agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but despite that, many skip it. Do you? If so, why? What are some of your favorite breakfast foods when you sit down to break the fast?
Researchers define breakfast as the first meal of the day after the longest period of sleep. It breaks the fast, is usually eaten within 2-3 hours of waking, and contains food from at least one food group. You may have heard conflicting evidence on the benefits of breakfast, so today we are going to highlight why we should start our day with this meal. Various studies and research show this meal positively contributes to healthy nutrient intake, improvements in diet quality, and leads to feelings of well-being as soon as it is eaten. There is also evidence that it can help with achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and improving cognitive performance. Feeling good, improving health, preventing disease? All of these sound like good reasons to start your day with a healthy meal!
Let’s look at quality and quantity. A good breakfast should contribute about 25% of your needs for the day. Most Americans have a snack at some point in the day, but if you don’t, your breakfast can be a little bigger. By maintaining this balance, we can achieve or maintain a healthy weight (by not eating too much food). Breakfast should include protein, carbohydrates such as fiber rich whole grains, fruit, and dairy, and some healthy fats like nuts or avocados.
Foods that contain protein, like eggs, lean meat, and legumes, are important because they lead to a feeling of fullness, can improve the quality of your diet, and provide necessary vitamins and minerals. Fiber also helps keep us full and great sources include beans, fruit, vegetables, and oatmeal. More specifically, the soluble fiber found in oatmeal slows food emptying from the stomach which may result in eating less later on in the day. Fruits and vegetables should be added to your breakfast whenever possible. Most people do not eat enough of them, so this is a great way to fit them into your day. Limit foods high in salt and saturated fat. Unfortunately, typical breakfast meats are high in sodium, but leaner meats can be substituted and eggs are always an easy way to get the protein we need. Remember, sugar and sweets are not nutritionally dense and add unnecessary salt and saturated fat, especially convenience, packaged foods. Like I always say, make sure you read labels!
Most can agree, breakfast is important, so we should aim to start our day with a nutritious meal. If you don’t already, maybe it can be one of your New Year’s resolutions! If you do eat breakfast, can you make it more healthy? Either way, keep in mind the points above and start off the New Year with a healthy meal. Hopefully, it will lead to a year of improved health and well-being!
Here are some of my favorite breakfast combos!
Savory Oatmeal: ½ cup cooked oatmeal mixed with sautéed vegetables, a handful of spinach, and 2 egg whites; top with an over easy egg and a sprinkling of cheese
Greek Yogurt mixed w/ ½ cup blueberries, ½ ounce slivered almonds, and a dash of stevia
Peanut Butter and Banana Protein Shake: 1 Scoop Chocolate protein powder, ½ banana, 1 tbsp PB, 8 oz water (or skim milk), 4 ice cubes
Here is THE New Year’s Resolution that you can actually keep!