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Why Eat a Healthy Breakfast?

By Kathie O’Connell, N.C., Holistic Nutritional Consultant

We’ve all heard “eat your breakfast” from our parents when we were children. It turns out that this advice has some sound science behind it.

Eating breakfast is important for good health, yet 31 million Americans skip breakfast every day. A recent study from Harvard School of Public Health concludes that “skipping breakfast may lead to one or more risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, which may in turn lead to a heart attack over time.”  And, studies of young people found that breakfast-skippers consume 40% more sweets, 55% more soft drinks, 45% fewer vegetables and 30% less fruit than people who eat breakfast.

Eating a healthy breakfast provides more satiety, leads to less over-eating, and promotes healthier food choices throughout the day.  And, a healthy breakfast is shown to jump-start your metabolism, improve concentration and give strength and endurance to engage in daily activities.

It’s important not only to eat breakfast, but to choose the right breakfast foods. We all know that eating a doughnut and drinking a cup of coffee doesn’t count as a healthy breakfast, so what does?

Every meal should consist of lean protein, whole grains, dairy or dairy alternative and vegetables and fruit.  Breakfast is no exception. Adding lean protein to your breakfast keeps you feeling full for hours and supports lean muscle mass. Fiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables helps you stay full, prevents constipation, may improve blood sugar levels and has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease.

The most common reasons people give for skipping breakfast are they have no time, they aren’t hungry, or they just don’t feel like eating. Considering all the evidence that shows that high-quality breakfasts improve health and decrease the risk of disease, maybe it’s time to re-think how we approach breakfast.  Being mindful of having and preparing ingredients ahead of time and using some quick and easy breakfast ideas may increase the likelihood of eating breakfast.

Here are six simple, healthy options to start with (based on a 2,000 daily caloric intake).

1. A slice of whole grain toast (sprouted or gluten-free choices are available) with natural peanut butter or spreads such as almond, cashew, sunflower) and whole fresh fruit.

2. Smoothies: Blend 1 cup of milk (organic or a dairy-free alternative, such as unsweetened rice or almond milk), ½ cup natural plain yogurt, ¼ cup berries and ½ banana. If needed, sweeten with Stevia® (a healthy, natural alternative to artificial sweeteners) or honey.  Throw in a handful of spinach or kale to “green” things up.

3. Oatmeal with one medium-sized grated apple, chopped walnuts, cinnamon and a splash of organic milk or a dairy-free alternative.

4. Two eggs, one slice of whole grain toast (sprouted or gluten-free) and a slice of tomato.

5. ½ to 1 cup natural unsweetened yogurt and ½ cup fruit of choice. Sweeten with Stevia or honey and garnish with walnuts, pecans or almonds.

6. A two-egg veggie omelette (prepare the vegetables the night before or use leftovers from last night’s meal) and a piece of whole grain toast (sprouted or gluten-free).

If you haven’t been a breakfast eater, but want to incorporate eating breakfast as part of a healthy lifestyle strategy, take small steps, be consistent and enjoy! You will reap the benefits.

 Kathie O’Connell, N.C. is a holistic nutritional consultant. She is a health and wellness coach for IN.FORM Total Lifestyle Transformation and does individual counseling. She can be contacted at kathie.oconnell@gmail.com or at (815) 592-4296.

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