So is it really true that breakfast is the most important meal of the day?
We’ve all heard this saying time and time again, and that the best way to kick off your day is with a big meal and then smaller meals as the day goes on. It makes sense on one hand, that if you eat breakfast, you’ll get a surge of energy and it will make sure you don’t deplete yourself of calories, just to wind up starving a few hours later. But can eating more really help you to stay in shape and to feel better at the same time? I was doubtful until I saw it for myself.
My sister Trish was always complaining that she felt out of energy and ready to fall asleep as soon as the afternoon hit. Her overall health was fine, but she always just felt like something was off.
She ate well and never considered that eating could have something to do with her issues. It took seeing a nutritionist to finally set her straight.
Trish didn’t like eating in the morning, so besides a cup of coffee, her first true meal was at lunchtime. Often, she pigged out at lunch because her body was so hungry by that point. Not shocking, she also struggled with her weight and never felt like she could lose those extra few pounds that she gained over the years.
Her dietician recommended that she start with just one simple change: a plan to eat breakfast every single day- and stick with it. Sounds easy, right? It isn’t as simple as it sounds. Trish found this ‘simple’ adjustment tough at first because she had gone most of her life without eating breakfast, and didn’t even feel hungry in the morning.
Within a short period of time, she started feeling better, for a variety of reasons. First, it almost seemed like she knew she started her day off the right way. As soon as having breakfast became a part of her morning routine, she committed to it and made changes to her schedule to give herself the time and flexibility to enjoy breakfast. Because being weight conscious was also on the forefront of her mind, she tried to incorporate the healthiest of options for breakfast- oatmeal, fruits, and whole grain toast. Before, she struggled to get enough healthy components into her schedule. With the addition of an entire meal- purely healthy- to her day, she was able to get the additional nutrition she needed.
My sister felt better not just physically, but mentally. She was shocked with the almost immediate change she noticed in herself. This shouldn’t shock anyone though- imagine your body is like a vehicle that needs gas to go. Before, she was starting the day on empty. After a long night of sleep, the body has no energy to fuel you into the start of your day. By lunch she was worn out, because she hadn’t given her body what it needed to work hard. People who choose not to eat breakfast have a lower level of concentration and can’t focus on simple tasks in comparison to those who have fed their body what it needs to be its best. Your problem solving abilities are decreased and the opportunities to be creative are lost.
Another huge benefit she got from eating breakfast was actually in weight loss. I know, it sounds crazy that eating more would help you lose weight, but it’s true. Once she started eating breakfast every day, she stopped having hunger cravings and basically binging at her two big meals of the day, lunch and dinner. By just adding breakfast and having meals spread out pretty evenly throughout the day, she literally stopped feeling hungry. She ate when she was supposed to, and appropriate sized meals, which helped her to stick to her weight loss plans.
Not eating breakfast causes chaos in your body- making you feel starved, then causing you to eat in bigger quantities than necessary. Then you feel stuffed, all the while your metabolism and sugar levels are flying from one end of the spectrum to the other.
Skipping breakfast has a direct correlation with obesity, which has been proven in dozens of medical research studies. Another ‘side effect’ of skipping breakfast that also challenges your waist line it that people were more likely to go to fast food restaurants when they were hungry because they were not making smart meal choices or paying attention to their diets. All of these behaviors help add pounds to your body and will make you less healthy overall.
So now you’re probably feeling pretty confident that eating breakfast is the best route, but how do you change your life to make eating breakfast a habit?
It will take some time to become a habit, and it isn’t as easy as it sounds to change years and decades of bad behavior. We are all running around hectic in the mornings, and eating breakfast may feel like something you can push until later, or push off all together. There is always tomorrow, right? Wrong- start now and do it every day!
First, get out of the mindset that breakfast needs to be specific breakfast foods that you’ve grown accustomed to. You don’t need to make a full meal of bacon and eggs to eat breakfast, it can really be anything. Try to eat things that are high in fiber and protein which will keep you awake and mentally alert until lunch. But this could be cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, egg whites, or granola.
Consider eating protein that you’d normally have later in the day at breakfast- there is nothing wrong with eating chicken, fish, and turkey in the morning, no matter how strange it may feel at first. Breakfast can be anything you make of it, so the first thing that you must do is to stop thinking small. My sister has been known to have anything from a bagel to a sandwich to a protein shake for breakfast. It is just another meal, so vary your choices for variety’s sake.
Also get it out of your head that you have to eat first thing in the morning before you do anything else. Some people like to work out or get started with their day before eating. Obviously it needs to be before the time you get up and lunchtime, but if it is easier for you to eat once you get to work, after your workout, or once you get the kids to school, do so! Throw out the ‘rules’ you’ve set for yourself and do what works for you.
You can also plan your breakfast meals the week in advance. Over the weekend, do an inventory of your food and go shopping to buy anything additional you may need. Create a calendar of what you are going to eat for breakfast each day. Because you’re half-awake when you get up, having a solid plan of what you should eat takes guessing or being creative out of the equation. Trish found that this was a big help to her because it didn’t allow her to eat bad foods either- she stuck with her chart and got more and more healthy foods into her diet through breakfast.
Just like my sister, after a few weeks, I have a feeling you’ll be saying “I used to hate breakfast, but now it is something I just can’t live without”. You’ll be shocked by the changes in your body, your mind, and your spirit. Your work will improve, your patience will improve, and you’ll feel healthier overall. Don’t go another day as one of those people who are feeling sluggish for this simple and unnecessary reason- change your behavior to feel better now!