What’s more important than breakfast? A healthy one

Are you guilty of skipping breakfast, or pushing your first meal of the day so far back that it’s practically lunch? Ideally, breakfast should be eaten within the first two hours of waking, but not everybody does well with loading up their stomach with a full meal so early in the morning. Which is one of the many reasons people tend to skip breakfast.

The fact of the matter is, it’s not only about when to eat breakfast, but what to eat. You don’t necessarily have to wolf down a huge serving as soon as you wake in the morning, as long as you’re filling up the tank with nutrient-dense, high satiety foods.

Here are five reasons why it’s important to have – not just any breakfast, but – a healthy breakfast!

Breakfast jump-starts your energy

The word breakfast literally means to break your evening fast. We go without food in the eight hours we spend asleep every night. While that’s fine when you’re asleep and body processes slow down, that also means your body’s tank is empty when you wake up! Jumping straight into a new day without any fuel at all makes for a slow and sluggish beginning. This ultimately decreases productivity, and triggers a chain of ineffective health habits for the rest of the day.

Healthy start: Top up your tank with a healthy serving of complex carbohydrates to give you fuel for the morning ahead! Break your fast with whole wheat bread, chilled overnight oats, or other whole grain meals.

Breakfast decreases snacking

Starting the day full means you’re less inclined to be hungry in the middle of the morning. This allows you to avoid hankering for snacks, which often tend to be quick, instant, and unhealthy.

Skipping breakfast also means you’re hungrier come lunchtime, so you’re more likely to eat bigger meals at lunch (or even dinner, if you end up skimping on lunch too!). The truth is, your body needs less energy as the day passes by, meaning your meals should become lighter as the day progresses.

Keep in mind the age-old saying: Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper!

Healthy start: To reduce mid-morning cravings, start the day with a balanced, healthy breakfast that leaves nothing wanting. Make sure it includes all the food groups: complex carbohydrates, protein, fruits or vegetables (or both!), and healthy fats.

Breakfast helps with weight control

Here’s an interesting primal instinct the body has: when you don’t eat breakfast, you’re actually telling your body that food is scarce, thus it needs to slow down metabolism in order to conserve resources. The body then stores fat to provide you with energy reserves to make up for your lack of food. Constantly skipping meals throws your metabolism out of whack and, in reality, makes you pack more of the fat on in the long term.

In contrast, when you satisfy your body’s need for nutrients early in the day, you’re telling your body that there’s no need to hoard glucose. This normalises metabolism, controls appetite, and allows you to adhere to a more balanced eating schedule necessary for managing weight.

Healthy start: To avoid putting on the pounds, skip sugary foods during breakfast. If you’re looking for flavour in your morning meal, use natural sweeteners like raw honey, cinnamon and berries.

Breakfast improves mood

You’re only human – when your basic physical needs aren’t met, don’t count on emotional sophistication. That’s why when you’re hungry, you wind up being sluggish, moody, and short-tempered.

Your bad mood is largely related to a lack of glucose in your system. Low blood sugar makes your muscles tight and stiff, leading to headaches, feeling cold and clammy, weakness, and irritability. Eating a healthy breakfast composed of fresh, feel-good food goes a long way in improving your mood.

Healthy start: Avoid processed foods, anything with artificial sweeteners or refined sugar, and excessive caffeine. Although they can be temporarily satisfying, these foods actually bring down your mood after the sugar rush passes, and can even trigger and exacerbate anxiety and depression.

Breakfast builds momentum

An NPR poll found that 25% of people skip a proper sit-down breakfast in favour of an energy bar or a cup of yogurt. The thing is, though, starting your day by cutting corners with breakfast sets the tone for other shortcuts and rationalisations for unhealthy behavior throughout the day.  Plus, if you failed to get the right foods in at breakfast, you’re less likely to find a way to make up for it as the day goes by.

On the opposite side, taking the time to properly nourish your body kicks your day off with the right nutrients and serves as a reminder of your commitment to making healthy choices.  

Healthy start: if you’re in too much of a hurry to make and sit down for breakfast every morning, prepare healthy breakfasts like smoothies or overnight oats at night, and eat them on the go the next morning!

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