YogurtPull out those cereal bowls and spoons; it’s National Breakfast Week (March 4-8, 2013). Since its launch in 1989, this campaign has been held annually to raise awareness about school breakfast programs, as well as to educate the public about the importance of starting each day with a healthy meal.

The most important meal of the day

Eating breakfast is important for children and adults alike. By early morning, most people have gone without food between 8 and twelve hours. Without refueling the body, people can experience decreased energy, poor concentration and focus, irritability, unsteady blood sugar levels and a sluggish metabolism. Eating breakfast has also been linked to successful weight loss and healthy living. Small frequent meals and snacks throughout the day keep the body performing efficiently and reduce overeating due to extreme hunger.

Squeezing in breakfast is easier than it sounds. Many options are quick and convenient so kids can eat them in the car or adults can bring them to work. The key is to avoid high-fat, sugary, processed foods such as pastries, sweetened cereal or fast food sausage/ cheese sandwiches.

A healthy breakfast should include a combination of

  • lean protein (low-fat milk, yogurt, eggs, peanut butter)
  • whole grains (oatmeal, whole-grain bread/cereal/pancakes)
  • fruit/veggies

Five fast morning fixes

  • Spread peanut butter on a small whole-wheat tortilla, lay banana in center and roll up tortilla
  • Mix whole-grain cereal, raisins and nuts and portion into small plastic containers or baggies;Tip serve with yogurt or glass of milk
  • Scramble one egg, toast two whole-grain freezer waffles and assemble sandwich (slice of cheese optional)
  • Mix 1/3 cup each rolled oats, milk and plain yogurt; refrigerator overnight (flavor with fruit, jam, cinnamon, nuts, etc. and enjoy cold or warmed in microwave)
  • Dice apple (or fruit of choice) and mix with 1 cup cottage cheese, sprinkle with cinnamon and wheat germ

Not a morning eater?

Some people report not being hungry in the morning so they skip breakfast. Nutritionists encourage everyone to start the day with a healthy meal so if this is you, consider one of these strategies:

  • Keep the meal small and light (a piece of fruit, a cup of yogurt, a hard-boiled egg)
  • Opt for non-breakfast foods to whet your appetite (a slice of cheese and a few whole-grain crackers; lean turkey on a slice of whole wheat bread)
  • Eat a few hours after rising (between 9-10 a.m.)
  • Sip on a fruit smoothie (blend 1 cup low-fat flavored yogurt, ½ cup any fruit, and a few ice cubes)

National Institutes of Health

Image courtesy of Piyato / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.