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Breakfast-It Does a Body Good

Your mom was right; you need to eat your breakfast. It may not be THE most important meal of the day, but it is absolutely essential to a healthy diet, a healthy body, and a healthy weight. In this article, I discuss the importance of breakfast and provide you with healthy breakfast ideas, even if you have to eat "on the go."

Make time for breakfast. You've heard this one for a long time and it's true-breakfast is very important to a healthy diet. It breaks the fast you've had overnight and gets your metabolism "fired up."

You actually burn more calories when you eat breakfast; it's like adding wood to a fire. When your body goes all night and then all morning without food, it assumes that you must be facing a famine and potential starvation, so it slows your metabolism down (the rate at which you burn calories) in order to help you survive as long as possible. Also, studies have shown that providing your brain with fuel from breakfast allows you to think and perform better at school or work.

As far as your weight is concerned, a healthy breakfast (and lunch) helps prevent overeating later in the day. You don't save calories by skipping breakfast because your body (and mind) will attempt to make up for it later in the day.

One of the most common problems I have encountered with patients seeking weight loss is that they skip breakfast and/or lunch, eat a very large dinner and then snack all evening until bedtime as their body attempts to make up for the lost calories during the day. If you don't feel that you have time to eat breakfast at home before work, then try to put a quick breakfast together before you go to bed. Breakfast doesn't need to be a four course meal. You could put some light cream cheese between two bagel halves and put it in a baggie, grab some orange juice or skim milk and eat on the go. Or, grab a container of yogurt and put some granola or Fiber One® on top as you head out the door.

You also don't have to eat traditional breakfast food. Try a ham and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread with a banana and some milk or orange juice. Another quick and easy breakfast is Jimmy Dean's D-Lights® breakfast sandwiches found in the frozen foods section of the grocery store. Other healthy breakfast options include ready-to-eat cereals with at least five grams of fiber per serving (e.g., Shredded Wheat, Mini-Wheats®, Raisin Bran, bran flakes, Fiber One®, All-Bran®, and Kashi®), oatmeal, whole grain bagels, English muffins, toast (with at least two grams of fiber per serving) with low-sugar jelly or light cream cheese, whole grain waffles or pancakes, fresh fruit, and skim milk.

A high-fiber breakfast helps you stay full until lunch without cravings for snacks. I've had the most success with cereals that have at least five grams of fiber per serving. If you don't like any of the high-fiber cereals, then try mixing one of them with your favorite. This way, you'll get to taste your favorite cereal and get extra fiber at the same time. For example, mix about 1/2 cup of Fiber One® with Honey Clusters with about 2/3 cup of Cinnamon Toast Crunch®.

Learning to eat healthier and lose weight so that you can maintain it in the long-run is all about moderation and compromise. Speaking of compromise, one of my favorite breakfast treats is biscuits and gravy and every now and then I give into a craving. In order to save calories, I get the gravy on the side and spoon just enough over the biscuit to taste it on every bite without drenching it. Better yet, I make my own at home. Here's a lower-fat recipe for you to try at home.

"You'll Never Know It's Reduced-Fat, Biscuits and Gravy"

  • Take 1/3 of a roll of Jimmy Dean® 50% less fat sausage and brown it in a skillet (or brown the entire roll and put 2/3 of it in the freezer to use on a homemade pizza). There's hardly any grease to make the gravy, so you'll need to add 2-3 tablespoons of oil (preferably canola or olive).
  • Next, sprinkle 3 tablespoons of flour over the sausage/oil mixture and whisk until absorbed. 
  • Add approximately 3 cups of skim milk and whisk until smooth.
  • Season with a small pinch of nutmegBusiness Management Articles, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Simmer until thickened.
  • Serve over biscuits made from Reduced-Fat Bisquick® alongside some fresh fruit. Yum! You can even serve this to your overnight guests and they'll never know it's lower in fat.

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April Adams,  I am a Registered Dietitian and author with years of experience in weight loss counseling. If you are tired of wasting your time on fad diets and are ready to learn how to eat healthier and lose weight in the most practical, painless way possible, please visit my website. I have recently written a book entitled Back to Basics: A Practical Guide to Healthier Eating and Weight Loss that provides my no non-sense tips to help you cut unnecessary calories from your diet and better meet your body's nutrient needs.

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