Eating a healthy breakfast is a great way to kick start your day. Not only does it “break the fast” from not eating since dinner the night before, but studies show eating breakfast increases overall diet quality, can help maintain a healthy weight, and improves behavior and learning with children. However, not just any breakfast will do.
At one time or another we’ve all given into the colorful box of sugary cereal with fun characters; or a sweet pastry when we are crunched for time, but like gas in a car, our body burns through this fuel quickly leaving us feeling tired and sluggish. The key to keeping our bodies running smoothly is to choose healthy “fuel” by following these three simple steps.
1. Start with a whole grain. Whole grains are complex carbohydrates (or fuel) that helps us feel full longer and gives us energy for a longer period of time. Tip: Look for the words “whole” as part of one of the first ingredients on the label.
2. Add a fruit or a vegetable. Almost all of us need to eat more fruits and vegetables. Adding a fruit or vegetable to breakfast is a great way to add flavor and get the recommended servings from these groups for the day. Tip: Limit juice as these can be high in sugar or sodium. If you choose juice, look for 100% juice on the label.
3. Add a lean protein or dairy. Protein and dairy helps our muscles and bones grow big and strong; and provide much needed nutrients. Tip: Protein doesn’t have to be meat. Beans and nut butters can be a great lean protein to choose.
“The effects of breakfast on behavior and academic performance in children and adolescents.” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 08 August 2013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737458/pdf/fnhum-07-00425.pdf
“Eating Smart on the Run.” Eating Smart, Moving More: Making Smart Breakfast Choices, curriculum and handouts, 2016.