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Breakfast: The first meal of good health


When most Americans lived on farms, breakfast was a major meal of the day. Chores often preceded it so stomachs had a chance to wake up before the meal was served. Now many of us just try to grab something on the way out the door or from a fast food restaurant.

But breakfast is still important. Research has shown that people who don’t eat breakfast are more likely to be overweight.

Eating actually increases your metabolism, so if you don’t eat, you burn fewer calories. The National Weight Control Registry found people who have successfully lost at least 30 pounds, and kept it off for at least a year, make it a habit to eat breakfast every day.

Both children and adults perform worse when they miss breakfast. They tire more easily, suffer more mood swings and have problems concentrating. That is why the School Breakfast Program was established in 1966 for children.

Our brains need a constant supply of blood sugar to function well, so if you don’t eat for 12 to 14 hours, you are depriving your brain of needed fuel.

Breakfast should provide a third or more of the calories and nutrients your body needs. Ideally, choose from at least three or more of the food groups recommended by the Dietary Guidelines. For example, you could get three groups by having a bowl of cereal with milk and banana slices or toast spread with peanut butter and yogurt.

Harvard Medical School says pre-planning can help you find time for breakfast. Every night,

  • Put out the clothes you and your family plan to wear
  • Set your table, and put out non-perishable cereal or bread
  • Cut up fruit, and put it in the refrigerator
  • Set up the coffee maker
  • Assign each family member morning chores

What types of foods should you buy for breakfast? Let the food groups guide you:

  • Dairy foods – low fat or skim milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, low fat cheese, kefir (a fermented, smoothie-flavored milk drink)
  • Grains – whole grain cereals, quick cooking hot cereals, whole grain frozen waffles, whole wheat bread, English muffins, bagels, pita bread, tortillas, instant brown rice
  • Protein foods – eggs, hummus, Canadian bacon, peanut butter, lean turkey slices, tofu
  • Fruit – any fresh, dried or frozen fruit without added sugar, canned fruit in juice, 100 percent fruit juices
  • Vegetables – spinach, kale, avocado, tomato, peppers, onions, frozen mixed vegetables (can be added to egg dishes)

If you must eat out, choose lower fat items like English muffins with jam or jelly only, pancakes with syrup, skim milk or yogurt with dry cereal, a small bagel with light cream cheese (on the side so you control the amount) or a small, low fat muffin.