Today, more and more people are aware that breakfast is an essential meal to jump-start the day.
Breakfast eaters are often touted as healthier, and less likely to be overweight, than non-breakfast eaters. Some studies suggest that breakfast eaters are more likely to eat fewer calories, exercise more, and be leaner than those who skip breakfast. A study with subjects from the National Weight Control Registry found that eating breakfast on a regular basis was associated with success in maintaining weight loss.
Why does skipping breakfast seem to lead to weight gain? People who skip their morning meal may become ravenous by lunch time, which often leads to lousy food choices. When you are excessively hungry, anything and everything sounds appealing, causing you to eat more than you normally would.
And your food choices—muffins, donuts, packaged goods—become poor, resulting in a cheap, fast, unhealthy meal.
‘Setting Back’ Breakfast
Some people skip breakfast because they are just not hungry first thing in the morning, while others are constantly rushing to get to work or school on time. Does this mean they are destined to become overweight?
The culprit seems to be overeating and choosing junk food while feeling famished. Here are two guidelines to follow when breakfast is just not an option first thing in the morning:
1. Don’t wait until you are starving. Waiting too long to eat between meals can lead to overeating at the next meal. Have you ever gone grocery shopping on a growling stomach? Suddenly, the barbecue potato chips and chewy chocolate chunk cookies that you can usually resist putting in the shopping cart sound like a most satisfying meal.
This theory can be applied to breakfast. It’s not vital to eat if you are not hungry first thing in the morning. Instead, consuming a healthy breakfast when you start to feel hungry a few hours into your day is just fine.
2. Plan a healthy breakfast meal. Choose something healthy and nutritious once you do start to feel hungry. For instance, when setting back breakfast due to time constraints, order a yogurt parfait with granola and fresh fruit instead of a muffin.
These recommendations can work as long as your schedule is flexible enough to allow for mid-morning breaks.
Breakfast can help initiate a healthy start to the day. Choosing a nutritious first meal sets the tone for better choices at lunch and dinner. Having a balanced diet overall is the key to successful weight management.
Caroline Leung is a Registered Dietitian. She has a keen interest in prenatal nutrition and is currently a nutrition fellow at New York-Presbyterian’s Ambulatory Obstetrics clinic.
Examples of Healthy Breakfast Options:
Plain oatmeal made with low fat milk/water + tsp of peanut butter
Greek yogurt + fresh fruit + 1 serving low-fat granola
Eggs: scrambled or boiled, or omelet with vegetables + slice of ham
Whole grain cereal + low fat milk + fresh berries
Whole wheat toast + tsp peanut butter + glass of low-fat milk