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Does the morning mayhem cause you to jet out the door without first fueling yourself? The reality is that almost 40% of Canadians skip breakfast according to the latest Tracking Nutrition Trends report.
As a dietitian, this is a major concern since skipped breakfasts lead to weight gain, decrease in appetite control and decrease in key nutrients like calcium, fibre and potassium. Today you will become aware of why breakfast REALLY IS the most important meal and my top 3 strategies to overcome the time-crunched morning rush and actually fit your breakfast in!
I still remember during my dietetic internship, listening intently to my dietitian-preceptor telling the story of the sumo wrestler dietary plan and how they successfully “gain” large amounts of weight. She explained to me and a patient how the first strategy is for sumo wrestlers to skip breakfast so that their body can go into a type of “starvation mode” after 8 hours of sleep. This causes the metabolism to slow down and the sumo wrestler’s body to be able to efficiently store calories as fat.
Storing calories as fat is what our bodies do when in starvation mode – since our bodies are afraid of going long periods without eating they need to build up those stores! The result is an increase in fat mass fueled by sporadic and delayed eating. To support weight gain further, by skipping breakfast, the sumo wrestler is also able to eat larger quantities at subsequent meals because of a decrease in appetite control. This story is an effective one on how to GAIN weight.
However, if you are looking to avoid weight gain, to improve your dietary intake and to be in control of your food intake, skipping breakfast is not a good option.
By choosing foods that do not take more than 5 minutes to prepare, you are helping to remove the barrier of time for eating breakfast. Ready-to-eat cereal is the most popular breakfast food eaten and can be a healthy choice when selecting cereals with 5g of fibre or more and with 8g of sugar or less per serving. You might enjoy my breakfast today of fibre cereal with bran buds, sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and some milk. When selecting your breakfast, use strategy identified in my past post on Breakfast inspiration to aim to have fibre, protein and a fruit.
Some of my clients start work very early and tend to only wake up and get dressed before leaving the house. In this case, eating breakfast at home is not an appealing option in the very wee hours. In order for them to still benefit from breakfast, they need to have something to eat within 1.5-2 hours of waking up. Grabbing a fruit and ¼ cup of nuts is an option of a grab and go that can be eaten in the car or at work. Many people also enjoy homemade smoothies to grab-and-go. Additionally, many clients have started keeping a stash of breakfast items in their office such as cereal, milk, nuts/seeds, yogurt and fruits. They can then make a quick breakfast first thing at the office.
This is likely the most powerful of all solutions! You want to prepare yourself for breakfast success by planning the night before so that your morning will be less rushed. Start by packing lunches, laying out the outfit you will be wearing and even setting out the foods you will be eating for breakfast. One of my clients started making yogurt parfaits the evening before with oats and fruit and leaving them in the fridge over-night so that they were ready in the morning. Planning for change makes a new healthy habit much easier to keep.
Mornings are hectic enough so start planning for breakfast success. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day and it is a way to nurture yourself with good fuel. You wouldn’t want to drive your car on empty so don’t run your body on empty either. Rushed mornings and skipped breakfasts do not have to be your reality. Enjoy fueling your body with breakfast and achieving your best health!
*Adapted from the Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month Campaign Materials. Find out more at www.nutritionmonth2015.ca.