Mom was right. Research supports the idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The meaning of the word itself conveys its importance: breakfast literally means to break the fast; that is, to eat the first meal of the day after a period of fasting through the night.
What can breakfast do for you? A lot, as it turns out.
- Eating a healthy breakfast helps provide a more nutritionally complete diet that is higher in vitamins, nutrients, and other essential minerals. (Note the “healthy” aspect of the equation; a donut a day probably won’t get you there.)
- Those who eat breakfast demonstrate improved concentration, increased performance, and better problem-solving skills.
- Breakfast eaters demonstrate more strength and endurance in physical activities, as well as better hand-eye coordination.
- A healthy breakfast can lower cholesterol levels.
- Though the reasons are not fully understood, adults and children who eat breakfast often weigh less than those who skip the morning meal.
- According to the American Dietetic Association, the benefits of breakfast are especially pronounced in children and adolescents.
To optimize breakfast, a balanced morning meal should include food from at least three of the food groups. Furthermore, lean protein at breakfast time is important to help stave off cravings by making you feel full until lunchtime. So if a healthy breakfast is so essential, what’s a busy family to do on rushed mornings? Plan ahead! Setting the table for breakfast the night before can make the morning mealtime less time-consuming, and having a ready-made stash of healthy breakfast options available can make breakfast easy as well. Ideas include:
- Hard boiled eggs in the refrigerator, paired with a banana
- Low-fat yogurt with a piece of fruit
- Toast with peanut butter
- Cereal with low-fat milk and a glass of whole-fruit juice
- A whole-wheat English muffin with melted cheese
- A smoothie made with milk or yogurt and fruit
- Oatmeal with skim milk and raisins
My personal favorite? Last night’s leftovers. Your body doesn’t care what you eat for your morning meal as long as it’s healthy. So regardless of your personal breakfast choice, be sure to include it in your daily routine. You’ll be glad you did.