Do you often feel grumpy, irritable or sluggish in the morning? You might be feeling this way because you did not eat breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet nearly 40 percent of Canadians regularly skip breakfast. Not having a morning meal leaves your brain and body without the energy needed to start your day. And this can lead to what is known as brain drain, a reduced awareness and inability to concentrate. The most common reasons why people overlook breakfast is because ‘there is just not enough time in the morning’ and ‘I’m just not that hungry.’ I’m sure each of you has rushed out the door on an empty stomach on more than one occasion. March is National Nutrition Month and this year the goal is to help Canadians eat better during their 9 to 5 workday, starting with breakfast. With a little planning, anyone can prepare a nutritious breakfast that can be enjoyed at home or eaten on-the-go.
Benefits of Breakfast
Take a moment and think of the name breakfast. Breakfast literally means breaking the overnight fast. By the time you wake up in the morning, you may have gone 7 hours or more without eating any food. Your body needs a morning meal to build up those low energy reserves. For example, think of yourself as a car. After a long sleep, your fuel tank is empty. Breakfast is the fuel your body needs so you can hit the road in the morning feeling mentally and physically energized. Another benefit of having breakfast is to kick-start your metabolism. When you’re asleep, your metabolism slows down because you’re not moving. But when you wake up, your body needs to speed up and having breakfast is the perfect solution. Research has shown kick-starting your metabolism in the morning by eating breakfast can also help you maintain a healthy weight. By having breakfast, you are less likely to snack on high fat, high calorie foods before your next meal. Having breakfast in the morning is also a great way to increase your intake of vitamins and minerals. People who skip breakfast are less likely to meet their recommended daily intake of nutrients, such as B vitamins, iron, folate and fibre.
Tips to Help Battle Breakfast Challenges
- Here are some ideas to battle common challenges associated with eating breakfast.
- Rushed mornings can leave you with little time to prepare and eat breakfast. One idea is to try prepping breakfast the night before. You can wash and cut vegetables and fruit, and even set up the breakfast dishes for the next day.
- Have you ever thought of preparing weekday breakfasts on the weekends? You can bake whole grain muffins, French toast or pancakes and freeze them in individual containers. On those busy mornings, just grab one of those options from the freezer with a fresh fruit or cut vegetables and take them with you.
- Stock your refrigerator and pantry with some ready-to-eat items, such as containers of yogurt, cut fruit and individual sachets of trail mix or nuts. This can make assembling a parfait really easy in the morning.
- Why not have dinner leftovers for breakfast the next day? Barley, quinoa or brown rice makes a great morning meal warm or cold. Finish off with a sprinkle of cinnamon or mixing in fruits or seeds.
- Make a breakfast sandwich in 5 minutes or less. Simply microwave or fry an egg. Then place the egg on a whole wheat English muffin. Finally top with cheese and your favourite vegetables like tomato or spinach.
- If you’re one of those people who are not hungry in the morning, start small with a yogurt or a handful of nuts. Over time, your body will adjust to eating in the morning and you will eventually be hungry for breakfast. Snacking late at night can curb your appetite in the morning. Eating less after dinner will have you craving a meal in the morning.