Important or not? If you’ve seen breakfast news stories lately, you may wonder if you need to bother with that steaming bowl of oatmeal or morning yogurt and fruit.
The two recent studies, highlighted in Cancer Research Update this week, focused on how breakfast affects weight. These trials were short term, but they do seem to show that if you just don’t like or want to eat breakfast, it may not make a difference for weight loss. If that finding holds, it could give you more flexibility in finding ways that work for you to get extra weight off.
However, there are great reasons to start your day off with something healthy – whether you consider it breakfast or a snack:
- Health-packed foods we need to eat more. Fruit, dairy and non-dairy milks and yogurt, and whole grain breads and cereal – we fall short eating these nutrient-rich traditional American breakfast foods. Whole grains are a fiber-rich food that protect against colorectal cancer. Getting plenty of fruit in your diet lowers risk cancers of the mouth, esophagus, lung and stomach. The calcium and potassium found in dairy and fortified soy milk link to healthy bones and lower blood pressure.
- People successfully losing weight and keeping it off eat breakfast. In the National Weight Control Registry, 78 percent of the participants (out of a total of about 2900 people) report eating breakfast as one important strategy to help them maintain their weight loss. The participants, on average, have lost 66 lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years.
- These studies are relevant only to adults. There is some evidence that breakfast may play in role in children’s health, energy levels and learning. The foods listed earlier are also lacking in kid’s diets – breakfast is a great way to ensure your child begins the day with healthful foods.
- Making a healthy breakfast is easy. Here are 3 tips:
- Fruit is the ultimate in healthful convenience – apple, banana, grapes – these are all grab and go foods. Or keep frozen bags of fruit on hand and grab a baggie full of berries or mango chunks to eat like popsicles pieces on your way to work or at your desk.
- And yogurt – it’s already packaged in single serve containers in a dizzying array of choices, including high protein Greek or regular. Here are some tips in choosing yogurts with little or no sugar. Choose plain, unflavored yogurt and add your own fruit – fresh or frozen, and a small handful of nuts.
- Breakfast is a great time to substitute whole grains for white bread, sugary cereals and pastries. Look for mini-whole wheat bagels and spread with a little peanut butter for a protein boost. When you cook a whole grain for dinner, like rice, quinoa or couscous, make a little extra and when putting away the leftovers, mix in some fruit (fresh, dried or frozen), nuts and cinnamon for a delicious morning cold salad, or heat up for a quick, warm cereal.
And here are more breakfast ideas: