We’ve all heard it- “the most important meal of the day” is the all-so-powerful breakfast. While you may know that it is the right way to start your day, it can be tough to eat something in the morning when you’re tired, rushing around, and getting ready for the day. But this little to-do of eating something in the morning can really jump-start your day and make it a great one. Choosing to eat a nutritious breakfast can truly make a difference in your life, energy, health, and wellness.
Eating a nutritious breakfast is linked to better physical and mental performance as well as giving you sustained energy throughout the day. Think about it: your body has been sleeping (hopefully) for 7-8 hours. Since you have gone this long without food, your blood sugar is low, making you feel tired and unproductive. Breakfast is literally “breaking the fast” that allows your blood sugar to stabilize so you can focus on your tasks for the day. This can lead to improvement in school, work, exercise, or whatever activities you can excel in.
One country in particular that has seen good results from eating breakfast is Japan. The Japanese breakfast is special because it is typically full of nutrients that starts the day off right. The Japanese actually have their first meal of the day as not a typical “breakfast” meal but more of what Westerners would consider a “dinner” meal. A typical Japanese breakfast includes staples of rice, soup, and protein. Interestingly enough, their breakfast looks similar to their lunch and dinner! They’ll typically have leftover rice from the night before, miso soup which includes tofu and vegetables in broth, and usually accompanied with a type of fish. They always make sure that their breakfasts are well-rounded, light, and healthy - just like their other meals. We can learn from Japan when choosing what to eat for our first meal of the day.
Here are 3 simple rules to eat a healthy breakfast:
1) Include Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fat
Japan always is sure to include of 3 food groups in their breakfasts. Having your breakfast include carbohydrates, protein, and fat will allow your blood sugar to stay stable as well as keep you fuller longer. If you chose to just eat one food group for breakfast such as just carbohydrates, then you might find you’ll have a sugar crash quickly or feel hungry sooner in the day. So instead of just eating a breakfast pastry or breakfast cereal, try adding a source or dairy, lean meat, legumes, or nuts to keep your satiety. An example of a breakfast that includes all three food groups is whole wheat toast (carbohydrates) with avocado (fat) and eggs (protein).
2) Make it Easy
Not having options or lack of planning are the main reasons people find they can’t have breakfast in the morning. Japan combats this through using leftovers from lunch or dinner the day before. You can also easily address these barriers through some simple preparation! Try preparing for breakfast the night before by setting out dishes or utensils, packing a meal, washing and cutting up fruit, hard-boiling eggs, or meal-prepping breakfast in advance. Although it does take some more effort, these strategies will overall make it easy to have breakfast everyday so that it can become a routine.
3) Have a Grab-and-Go Breakfast
Mornings can be rushed. You may not always have time to make that homemade veggie omelet that you were planning. So having a breakfast that you can make quickly that is still nutrient-rich and can be taken on-the-go is essential. Some easy meals to prepare ahead of time or made quickly are toast with nut butter and chia seeds, overnight oats, greek yogurt with fruit, smoothies that can be thawed, mini frittatas baked ahead of time, banana or apple with almond butter, a whole grain bagel with low-fat cream cheese, or a microwavable oatmeal cup with nuts. Just remember that something is better than nothing. Even having trail mix, dried fruit, or a healthy bar in your bag or car for emergencies will work. Just make sure to do the right thing for your health and wellness by eating breakfast!