Breakfast: the most important meal of the day!

Breakfast literally means “break the fast.” First thing in the morning most of us have gone 8-12 hours without eating. Compare 8-12 hours to the rest of the day when we eat every 3-5 hours. Breakfast plays an important contribution to both our mind and body, but sadly it is the most frequently skipped meal of the day. Some of the reasons people give for not eating breakfast include: not having enough time, not being hungry in the morning and trying to save calories for the rest of the day. Here are some of the ways that breakfast benefits our mind and body:

Helping the mind

Breakfast helps make us be better students and employees. Research shows that people who eat breakfast have greater attention spans, improved concentration, and students perform better on spatial and cognitive tests. Breakfast eaters have better school attendance and are less apt to show up tardy.

Children who skip breakfast are more likely to get stomach pains and headaches caused by hunger, which could make learning and test-taking challenging.

Helping the body

People who eat breakfast are healthier. They are more likely to meet the nutrition recommendations for their age groups, especially for vitamins A, C, riboflavin, calcium, zinc, iron, and fiber.

What about those breakfast skippers?

Breakfast skippers tend to have higher cholesterol levels, which can increase their risk for heart disease. They tend to snack more on high-fat, low-nutrition foods and are more likely to overeat at lunch because of excessive hunger. This may be why breakfast skippers are more prone to be overweight than breakfast eaters. According to the National Weight Control Registry, 78% of people who lose weight and keep it off eat breakfast every day.

Helping athletes

Breakfast eaters benefit from having better hand-eye coordination, which is an important component of success in most sports. Skipping meals makes the body to have to rely on energy stores in the liver and muscle to keep going. For athletes to train and perform their best, it is important to get fuel for the body provided by food. This is even more true for athletes that train in the morning.

How to make breakfast part of your routine?

A healthy breakfast should include foods from the whole grains, fruit, and protein/dairy groups that provide a good mix of nutrients and fiber. If eating breakfast is a new habit, it may take a few weeks to get adjusted. One way to key to work in a healthy breakfast is to plan ahead.

Here are a few healthy breakfast ideas that can help you get started:

• Ready-to-eat cereal
• Hot cereal
• Bagel with low-fat cream cheese or peanut butter
• Yogurt with sliced fruit
• Fruited low-fat muffin or bread
• Fruit and yogurt smoothie
• Peanut butter or hummus on whole-wheat toast
• Cheese pizza
• Breakfast quesadilla with low-fat cream cheese and sliced fruit
• Breakfast burrito or taco
• Toasted whole-wheat English muffin with lean ham and low-fat cheese
• Toasted pita with scrambled egg and low-fat cheese
• Low-fat milk and 100% fruit

Here are a few tips to choosing a healthy breakfast cereal:

• More than 3 grams (g) of fiber
• Less than 2-3 g of fat
• A ratio of greater than 4 g carbohydrate:1 g sugar (for example, if the label reads 28 g of carbohydrate, it should not contain more than 7 g of sugar)

Healthy Breakfast to You!

Carol and Denise

About the Author:


Carol and Denise's picture
Carol and Denise

Carol Shimberg, RD is a registered dietitian/licensed nutritionist practicing in the Asheville area. She completed her Bachelor of Science Degree in Community Health and Wellness from Georgia State College, and her Master of Health Sciences in Nutrition from Western Carolina University. She has additional certification in Adult Weight Management from the American Dietetic Association.




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