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Breakfast—Don’t Leave Home Without It!

Diann Douglas

Like it or not, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet many Americans choose to skip it, opting for larger meals later in the day.  Since breakfast is an essential meal of the day, September is designated as Build a Better Breakfast.  A subject of much research over the years, it is a proven fact that breakfast eaters are better off than breakfast skippers.

Breakfast literally means “break the fast.”  Your body has gone without food during the night’s sleep, operating in a fasting mode for 10 to 12 hours.  A body needs food to fuel up for the day’s activities, so that is why breakfast is so important.  Research has proven that students who eat breakfast perform better in school; they have a longer attention span and score higher on tests.  The same applies to adults, their work performance is better when their body is fueled at the start of the day.  With this information at hand, you would think everyone would be eating breakfast, but the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reported that 48 percent of the children in the U.S. do not eat breakfast.

One myth that doesn’t hold up is that breakfast causes weight gain.  The truth is that breakfast eaters do a better job at weight management.  Research shows people who skip breakfast will overeat the rest of the day causing weight gain over time.  There are many reasons why people skip breakfast.  Time is a big factor, people often complain they don’t have time to fix a meal and eat it before heading out the door.  Some people claim they aren’t hungry when they first get up in the morning.  Still a segment of the population doesn’t like traditional breakfast food.  Don’t let these excuses keep you from starting your day off on the right foot with a healthy breakfast.

Most breakfast foods are low in calories and fat, so skip the coffee and donuts or a drive through the fast food window.  Breakfast doesn’t have to be a cooked meal, if you find it hard to pull a breakfast together because you aren’t a morning person, take a few minutes the night before to plan what you will eat.  It may be that you boil an egg or cut up fruit and store it in the refrigerator overnight.

When preparing breakfast, try to include a whole grain, a source of protein and a serving of fruit.  Something as easy as cheese toast on whole wheat bread with a glass of 100 percent orange juice will meet the description of a complete breakfast.  If you choose an orange juice that is fortified with calcium and vitamin D, you’ve added a boost to the beginning of your day.  You may want to keep the blender handy and whip up a breakfast smoothie, ingredients like low-fat milk and fruit are easy to pour and go.  Instead of pouring milk on your cereal, change it up and mix cereal with a container of flavored yogurt and add some fruit.

Make food on the weekend that can be eaten during the week.  Whip up a batch of pancakes or waffles and freeze.  Before you run out the door, pop one in the toaster, top it with peanut butter or cream cheese and add sliced fruit, roll it up and you can eat it on your drive to work.  Find a recipe for a high fiber muffin, bake a batch and eat one with a glass of milk or orange juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

For a nontraditional breakfast, leftover veggie pizza and a glass of milk is a good choice.  Try mashed pinto beans on a tortilla, topped with mozzarella cheese and a glass of 100 percent orange juice will meet the criteria of a healthy breakfast.  Even a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich can be a great morning meal.

Start your day off right by building a better breakfast to give you nutrients and energy to fuel you through the morning.  For more ideas on creating a nutritious breakfast or meal planning on a budget, contact the Madison County Extension Service.

The University of Florida/IFAS Extension – Madison County is an Equal Employment Opportunity Institution.

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