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The Importance of Breakfast

The Importance of Breakfast

Breakfast Pancakes

The American Dietetic Association says breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Despite the healthful benefits, breakfast may be the meal that is most often neglected or skipped. Eating breakfast not only aids in weight management, it fuels the body to help provide energy, better concentration and problem-solving ability throughout the day, according to the food and nutrition experts at the American Dietetic Association.

Why Breakfast?

Forty years of breakfast related studies show that jump starting the day with breakfast benefits everyone -- children, teens and adults. "Eating breakfast is very important for the brain and the body first thing in the morning", said Los Angeles registered dietitian Gail Frank, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "Breakfast skippers often feel tired, restless or irritable in the morning."

Breakfast is the first chance the body has to refuel its blood glucose levels, also known as blood sugar, after eight to 12 hours without a meal or snack. Glucose is essential for the brain and is the main energy source. Blood glucose also helps fuel the muscles needed for physical activity throughout the day.

"Breakfast is also very important for weight loss and weight management," Frank said. "You 'break the fast' of not eating for the past eight to 12 hours. It helps curb your hunger and prevent binge eating later in the day. Breakfast is important to manage your weight and potentially lose weight by eating less calories throughout the day."

Bowl of cereal with strawberries on top During National Nutrition Month and all year long, the American Dietetic Association suggests simple ideas to help add breakfast to your daily eating plan.

  • Ready-to-eat whole-grain cereal topped with fruit and a cup of yogurt
  • Whole-grain waffles topped with peanut butter, fruit or ricotta cheese
  • A whole-wheat pita stuffed with sliced hard-cooked eggs
  • Hot cereal topped with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice or cloves
  • Peanut butter (see The Top Four Peanut Butter's) on a bagel with fresh fruit (banana or apple wedges) and low-fat milk
  • Breakfast smoothie (milk, fruit and teaspoon of bran, whirled in a blender)
  • Vegetable omelet with a bran muffin and orange juice

If your taste buds just do not crave breakfast foods in the morning, try:

  • Lean ham on a toasted English muffin and vegetable juice.
  • Cheese pizza and orange juice.
  • Grilled vegetables mixed with beans and cilantro topped with cheese.
  • Heated leftover rice with chopped apples, nuts and cinnamon and fruit juice.

Grab and Go Breakfasts

Following are suggestions that you can vary to your own personal taste for some Grab and Go Breakfasts. The key to any healthy grab-and-go meal is a balance of protein, fat and carbs.

For a quick and easy breakfast, stuff half a whole-wheat pita with cottage cheese and sliced peaches or pears.

2 frozen toasted whole wheat waffles topped with 1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese and 1/2 cup frozen thawed strawberries. 320 calories

1/4 cup chocolate granola, layered with 1/2 cup plain fat free yogurt, and 1 medium sliced banana. 304 calories.

Starbucks Egg White, Spinach and Feta Wrap and 1 medium tangerine. 327 calories

Other ideas: Add fresh fruit or bran flakes to a cup of nonfat fruit yogurt, or spread 2 tablespoons of hummus onto half a whole-wheat or pumpernickel bagel.

Grab and Go Breakfast Munchies

Pre-fill baggies with Post Honey Nut Shredded Wheat and add a handful of dried apricots, raisins and almonds, or your favorite nuts. For a quick breakfast or lunch, balance with a glass of milk.

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