Before we get started, I want to introduce you to a new series that will occur periodically – though not consecutively – on Nourishing the Soul. The series (as you’ve figured out by now, because you can all read) is called “Baby Steps” and it introduces small changes that each of us can make to better nourish our bodies, minds and souls. These are designed to be practical tips that you can incorporate into your life – starting today! (or maybe tomorrow…)
Baby Steps :: Start Eating Breakfast
Just like your day, what better way to kick off this new series than to focus on breakfast! I remember long, long ago when I didn’t consistently eat breakfast – or when breakfast for me consisted of a jaunt to Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru (and no, I was not just getting their amazing coffee to accompany my homemade flax-seed muffin) – and I would hear those annoying know-it-alls in their sing-song voices say, “You know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” …And then I would want to smack these people in the face. Breakfast didn’t seem all that important to me. Is cereal really that appetizing? Besides, I wasn’t even hungry in the morning. How could you possibly eat right after waking up? No, my body needs a few hours to “get going.”
Any of this sound familiar?
It should, because at least 51% of you out there do not regularly eat breakfast, according to the International Food Information Council (2007). Interestingly (at least I find these things interesting), there appear to be significant racial differences, as only 22% of blacks reported eating breakfast every day in a Harvard study. I’m happy to report that I am no longer counted among these statistics. And now I’ll tell you why:
It keeps my weight under control. The Mayo Clinic reports that eating breakfast not only jump starts our metabolism, but it helps reduce overeating later in the day. Breakfast keeps us satiated long enough to make it to mid-day, which prevents us from going bananas at Taco Bell on our lunch hour. Not only that, but skipping breakfast means you’ve fasted for at least twelve to eighteen hours. That’s a long time for our bodies to go without energy – and can result in an increase in our insulin response. Know what happens next? (I’ll tell you.) Our blood sugar drops, our fat storage increases, and we gain weight.
It keeps me on the right track. If I’ve eaten a semi-nutritious breakfast, I notice I’m more likely to continue making healthy choices throughout the day at other meals. Not only do I not feel that burning hunger and end up eating whatever sugary concoction the nurses on my unit have brought in that day (it’s incredible how many sweets are on a hospital unit!), but I have at least one success to draw from in making other food choices.
It helps me focus and concentrate. We always hear about the importance of children eating breakfast for improved school performance, and the same is true for work performance as well. I personally notice a major difference in my ability to focus when I’ve eaten my Wheaties (okay, I don’t really eat Wheaties…). And considering I work with people who expect me to listen carefully to their problems and provide (usually) sensible responses, I think it’s probably important that I can concentrate. Maybe.
It makes me nicer to my husband and coworkers in the morning. Low blood sugar can leave you irritable, depressed, and with a mean headache, and I notice a distinct difference in my mood if I haven’t eaten breakfast soon enough. Just ask my husband if you don’t believe me. In addition, breakfast foods rich in folic acid, B-vitamins, and omega-3s keep our emotional health in check. For more on the mood-food connection, check out this post.
Hopefully if you’re weren’t eating breakfast before, you’re convinced enough to start trying to make it a daily habit. If you’re not yet convinced (or you’re just being difficult), I’ve pulled together some of my favorite blogger breakfast ideas to tempt you into giving the first meal a fair shake.
From Living With a Healthy Hunger :: Banana Oatmeal
From The Front Burner :: Peanut Butter and Jelly Oatmeal (a personal favorite!)
From A Weight Lifted :: Watermelon Smoothie
From Oh She Glows :: Overnight Oats (love them!)
From Oh She Glows :: Grilled Cashew Butter and Blueberry Sandwich
From Carrots ‘N’ Cake :: Almond Butter Stuffed French Toast (Can I get an “Amen”!?)
From Carrots ‘N’ Cake :: Polenta Breakfast Pizza
From Health for the Whole Self :: Asparagus Quiche
From Hangry Pants :: Sour Cream Coffee Cake
From Hangry Pants :: Ricotta and Orange Pancakes
Do you eat breakfast? What are some of your favorite foods to eat in the a.m.?