Written by Courtney Warday, MS, RD
You may have heard the phrase “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” but do you know why it is so important? Breakfast provides us with the energy necessary to fuel our day and perform daily tasks. By eating in the morning, you are breaking the fast your body has been all night and providing it with nutrition.
Why is breakfast so important? Skipping breakfast can lead to poor performance in school, a poorer diet overall, trouble concentrating, and could lead to weight gain or obesity. Missing out on the first meal of the day can also lead to overeating later in the day and a greater likelihood of making less nutritious choices.
There are many benefits of eating breakfast including:
- Helping meet daily nutritional needs, especially for vitamins and minerals
- Improving test scores in children and productivity at work for adults
- Fueling our body for an active day
- Increasing the likelihood of participating in physical activity
What Makes up a Healthy Breakfast?
Here are some guidelines you can follow while trying to put together a healthy meal.
- Try to include 3 different food groups from the MyPlate into your breakfast: Grains, protein, fruits, vegetables, or dairy. This can be as simple as scrambled eggs (protein), a slice of whole grain toast (grains), and a banana (fruit).
- Avoid a high sugar breakfast. While sugar can give us quick energy, this is usually followed by a “crash” an hour or two later, causing us to be tired or hungry again. Choosing complex carbohydrates with fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, leads to more long-lasting energy.
- Add in protein! Having a higher protein breakfast helps you stay full longer. Be creative with your protein sources: yogurt, nuts or nut butter, and eggs are all great choices.
- Healthy fats can complete a meal! Adding in a little fat can provide sustained energy since it is digested slower and it important for making things taste good. Good sources to include would be topping your eggs with avocado, spreading peanut butter on your toast, or sautéing vegetables for an omelet with olive oil.
Barriers to Breakfast
With breakfast being so important, why is this meal often skipped? The most common barrier to building a breakfast is not having enough time. To overcome this barrier, have options that are quick and easy to make, such as English muffins, whole grain bread, fresh fruit, yogurt, and many more. Preparing breakfast the night before is also another option to make the hectic mornings more manageable. Baking an oatmeal casserole (as seen below) or an egg casserole allows breakfast to be as simple as heating up your meal in the morning and walking out the door. Other on-the-go options for busy mornings include a banana roll ups, peanut butter and toast, and hard boiled eggs.
Next time you’re trying to decide what to have for breakfast, try this baked oatmeal recipe, loaded with whole grains, fruit and some protein. It is easy to make and can be prepared the night before so all you need to do is grab and go in the morning!
Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal
- 2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
- 1 1/2 cups fat-fee milk or soy milk
- 1/2 cup egg substitute or egg whites
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 4 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 Tbsp. melted margarine
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups chopped apples
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a small bowl mix the milk, brown sugar, egg substitute/whites, margarine and cinnamon together.
- In a larger bowl combine the oats and the baking powder.
- Pour the wet mixture into the bowl with the oats; add the apples and mix well.
- Spoon the mixture into a 8 x 8 inch pan coated with cooking spray and bake for 30-40 minutes, until top is firm and a toothpick comes out clean in the center.
Nutrition Information per Serving: Calories: 160; Total fat: 3g; Saturated fat: < 1g; Sodium: 80mg; Total Carbohydrate: 30g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 18g; Protein 4g; Vitamin A: 248 IU; Vitamin C: 1.5 mg; Calcium: 56mg.
For more information visit:
- http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/planning-and-prep/recipes/apple-cinnamon-baked-oatmeal-recipe (recipe)
- Food Smart Families Curriculum 2015-2016
Post reviewed by Marni Shoemaker, M.S., RD