Turns out your mother (or father) was right - breakfast really IS the most important meal of the day!
We’ve all heard this before, but has anyone ever told you that what you eat in the morning makes a crucial difference to the way you feel the rest of the day, and even effects what you crave at night? And yet, according to food industry studies, more than 30 million people in the U.S. skip breakfast on a regular basis.
Now, I’m not talking about a "breakfast" of coffee and Lucky Charms (or even Whole Wheat Cheerios) or a bagel and cream cheese with a skim-milk latte. These kinds of breakfasts start your day in a deficit – you’re already giving your body too much sugar (and possibly too much caffeine) so you are bound to crash mid-morning and crave something sweet or caffeinated to perk you up. You're also more prone to stress and anxiety when you don't start your day with the right nutrition.
A truly healthy breakfast includes unprocessed protein, fiber, healthy complex carbs and fats. Protein is brain food – just what we need to start our day at school, work or running a household - and it also stabilizes blood sugar levels. Fiber supports healthy digestion, elimination and weight loss, and helps us feel full and satisfied. Unrefined carbohydrates give us energy – both for our body and our brain. And healthy fats help us absorb vitamins and minerals while giving us a steady, slow-releasing source of energy.
A Big Deal, Not A Big Production
Breakfast does not need to be a big production. Even if you have limited time in the morning, you can still whip up one of my fast and healthy recipes. But you’ll need a plan! Make a list of the recipe ingredients you’ll want for a week of breakfasts and buy them at the start of the week. Prepare some foods ahead of time (for example, the Quinoa for the porridge recipe below keeps for days!) And don’t be afraid to eat leftovers for breakfast.
If you feel that you’re “just not a breakfast eater” or “never hungry in the morning,” you may want to consider how late you are eating at night. You want at least two to three hours between your last meal in the evening and the time you go to sleep so that in the morning you are ready to “break the fast.”
But maybe you need more convincing, so here are the top reasons that all of us should start our day with a healthy breakfast:
Supports your brain function so you have greater clarity and focus.
Promotes consistently high energy levels throughout the day (instead of being on a “rollercoaster” of energy highs and crashes)
Helps you lose and maintain weight
Helps reduce stress and anxiety
Reduces your cravings for sugar and caffeine
Supports balanced blood sugar levels
It might be challenging for you or your kids to eat a healthy breakfast first thing in the morning, but it’s important! Here’s why:
- The right breakfast combo of protein, carbs and healthy fats activates our neurotransmitters which support focus, attention and energy.
- A healthy breakfast also releases the brain chemical serotonin, which helps regulate mood and encourage a feeling of calm.
- Experts believe that skipping breakfast can make us lethargic, moody, anxious, and less focused.
I’m excited to share with you a few quick, easy and nutritious breakfast ideas - why not try one tomorrow morning?
- Spreadable edible! Slice an organic apple and spread on some almond butter OR sunflower butter. Top with shredded, unsweetened coconut or unsweetened cacao and enjoy! This also makes a great afternoon snack.
- Protein smoothie. Blend 1 cup of unsweetened almond or coconut milk with one scoop of plant-based protein powder, a handful of dark leafy greens (such as spinach or kale), two tablespoons of flax seeds and 1-2 tablespoons of almond butter. Add 1/2 cup berries and half a banana (cut up and freeze your bananas to make your smoothies extra thick and creamy). Blend and enjoy!
- Gluten-free Oatmeal (or quinoa) with power toppings. Choose 1 cup of cooked gluten-free oats, brown rice, or quinoa; stir in berries and flax seeds; top with shredded, unsweetened coconut, chopped walnuts or sliced almonds. For an extra soul-warming treat, add some full fat coconut milk and cinnamon. Still need more sweetness? Use a few drops of liquid stevia to sweeten it up. I like to make a big pot of quinoa on Sunday nights and reheat it in the morning, then add toppings.
- Eggs with fresh veggies. I heat a teaspoon of coconut oil on medium low, sauté mushrooms, garlic and spinach (or whatever veggies I have on hand) then I set that on a plate and scramble two whole, pasture-raised organic eggs right in the pan. When the egg is cooked, I toss the veggies back into the pan and mix it all together. This takes me two minutes, tops.
- Fridge frenzy! Who says you can’t have chicken and rice, or fish and avocado for breakfast? If you have leftovers from last night, serve ‘em up this morning and save yourself some time and money.
Many people tell me that they skip breakfast, thinking it will help them lose weight. But then they are starving by 11 a.m. and start snacking before lunch right up until dinner. Then, even if they've had a healthy, balanced dinner they crave sweets afterwards. When my clients start their day with a healthy smoothie or high-protein, high-fiber meal, it actually helps them LOSE weight, have more energy all day, and reduces their cravings for sweets & alcohol.