Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Rise and Shine: It's Breakfast Time!"

How many times have you heard the sentence “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”? Many times I bet. All dietitians fight strongly for this matter. However, you don’t understand why they’re making you eat so early in the morning when you just don’t feel like it. They don’t do it for nothing, you know. It IS in fact, the most important meal of the day, even though the most skipped! So what’s the deal with breakfast and why is it so primordial?

A good meal for a good start!
Breakfast is important for many reasons:

Refuels blood glucose levels after around 12 hours of fasting. This glucose will be used to feed the brain which leads to a higher concentration, attention span and problem solving ability.
Kick start your metabolism: during the night, your body is resting. The only way to wake it from its sleep is to start eating.
Important in weight management: Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) show that eating cereals and breads in the morning was associated with a lower body mass index than breakfast skippers or meat/egg eaters. Besides, eating in the morning prevents extreme hunger at lunch time thus, associated with a reduced calorie intake.

No excuses accepted!
People usually skip breakfast for many reasons:

No time to prepare it: there are breakfast items that do not need time to be prepared. Ready to eat cereals just need to be poured into a bowl and voilà! Just try to avoid sugar coated ones. You don’t have to prepare very complicated dishes. Plus you can always make a sandwich the day before and just pick it up in the morning.
I’m not hungry or I’m nauseous in the morning: you should stop eating at around 7 the day before. No one has appetite for food if they wake up still digesting last night’s meal!
I prefer to save the calories for lunch or dinner: I think we’ve already established the fact that eating breakfast will help you manage your weight in a better way. So that’s no excuse.
You’re not used to eating breakfast: eating is a habit! If you change it, you’ll get used to it after a while. So try it and after a few weeks, you’ll see that you’ll adapt to your new way of life.

Integrate breakfast into your daily life

Introduce breakfast gradually: start by a small low fat biscuit, the next day have two of them… or you can start with half a sandwich, then in a few days you’ll be eating a whole one…
Have your regular morning coffee or milk then eat a small meal after an hour or two.
Split breakfast in two: if you’re not that hungry you can have 2 mini breakfasts.

Breakfast items you should avoid
It’s true we advise you to have breakfast, but it doesn’t mean you should have anything! Plan it wisely and go for healthy stuff. There are foods that have proven to be better for weight loss such as ready to eat breakfast cereals and breads. Proteins and fibers are also advisable as they delay hunger so you can make it till lunch.
In contrast, there are high fat, high sugar foods that will give you a lot of calories and will contradict the effect of breakfast on weight management. By these foods I mean:

Sweets: having cookies, doughnuts or chocolate in the morning is not advised. It seems that when you start your day with a sweet taste, you’ll be craving sugar for the rest of the day. Replace them with plain biscuits rich in fiber.
Knefeh and croissant: even though they’re part of the traditional Lebanese breakfast, they provide around 600 calories and leave you hungry within an hour or two.
Man’ouche: although it’s one of the tastiest breakfast items, it’s very high in calories. It provides 500 to 700 calories (for thyme and cheese respectively) and leaves you feeling tired and sleepy as it is very rich in fat.
Bayd b awarma: traditional fried eggs and high fat meat. Need I say more?

Just go for a cheese, labneh or turkey whole grain sandwich with some vegetables. You can also have milk and cereals. It can’t be any simpler!

                As I said before, eating is a habit. Try to change it gradually and you’ll get there in no time. 


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