The new year usually comes with new resolutions, not the least of which is to exercise more and eat healthier. A great way to jump start a healthy eating plan is to incorporate a nutritious breakfast into you and your family’s diet.
Why is Breakfast So Important?
When I was little we were told that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. This is honestly true, for many reasons. Breakfast increases your metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories). It also provides energy that sustains you through the early hours of the day and helps you keep your focus and concentration. This is especially true for children! Numerous studies have shown that people who consume a healthy breakfast gain less weight and don’t snack on as many unhealthy foods during the day.
What Makes Up a Healthy Breakfast?
What you choose to eat for breakfast makes a big impact on your health. Forget the sugary cereals, pastries and syrup-smothered waffles! A bowl of Lucky Charms tempts me just as much as anyone but the refined sugars found in these food products offer calories but no true nutrients. I thought it was pretty gross when I found out most breakfast cereals are sprayed with vitamin powder to make them appear healthier (news to me!). They’re are also packed with preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup.
On the other hand, a breakfast with protein, fiber and whole grains will keep you fuller longer, sustaining you through until the noon meal. Foods with this type of nutritional value don’t have to take long to prepare. Simple things like eggs, whole grain toast, fruits and dairy products (organic if possible) keep your breakfast interesting, tasty and filling.
Meal Ideas for a Healthy Breakfast
The thing I love about the first meal of the day is that there are so many great tasting breakfast foods! Here are a few ideas to mix up your breakfast.
Homemade Whole Wheat Toast and Homemade Jam or 100% Fruit Preserves with 100% Juice
Steel Cut Oats or Old Fashioned Oats with Chopped Pears and a drizzle of Honey served with Milk
Egg or Egg White Omelet with a small amount of Cheese, Hormel Natural Choice Ham and chopped Green Peppers
Seasonal Fruit Plate with Peanut Butter Toast or a handful of Pecans and 100% Orange Juice
Smoothies made with Plain Yogurt, Frozen or Fresh Fruit (no sugar added), Ground Flaxseed and 100% Juice
Incorporating a variety of foods into the breakfast menu keeps things from becoming boring and keeps me from slipping back into a “sugary cereal” rut. You can also include carbohydrates like whole grain pancakes, whole wheat bagels and english muffins as well as these fantastic homemade poptarts in moderation. Of course there are days when cereal is the only thing we have time for, so we always make sure to have a few healthier cereals on hand (Shredded Wheat, Cheerios and Kashi cereals for example).
Making small changes can have a big impact on your overall health. Breakfast is an excellent and easy way to move towards becoming a healthier person and a healthier family.
Photo Credit: Meg Lessard on Flickr