The Myth Around Breakfast: Why the “Most Important Meal of the Day” Should be Eaten with Care

Most people relish their morning breakfast. Whether you take a “grab-and-go” approach to your first meal of the day or prefer a full-fledged, sit-down morning ritual, breakfast allows you to nourish your body after what was hopefully a full eight hours of slumber-induced fasting. By all means, enjoy a delicious breakfast—it’s an important signal to your body that it’s time to start the day, and many studies show that a good breakfast improves concentration and performance throughout the day.

However, breakfast is also a meal of many myths, and one of them is that this meal—notoriously honored as the “most important meal of the day”—gives us healthy justification for eating large portions. Unfortunately, this popular belief that bigger breakfasts are better leads many people to overeat, spiking their insulin levels first thing in the morning and ending up ravenous just a few hours later. If this sounds familiar, you may want to revise your breakfast selection to include less overall quantity and more of certain food qualities. Of course, all dietary health advice is subjective for each individual—if you feel great after a big breakfast and couldn’t function if you trimmed your feast, continue your breakfast business as usual. If, however, you’re interested in seeing how your body would respond to a smaller but nutritionally fuller breakfast, try these three tips to eat smaller and smarter.

Portion Sizes Matter

Big breakfasts can lead to blood sugar spikes and a mid-morning crash, making you feel like you need more food to refuel. The truth is that your body may still be processing this food a few hours after you eat, and if it’s a huge meal then it may take more time to process. In order to control portion sizes, choose things that are individually packaged, like a small fat-free yogurt with a handful of nuts or berries mixed in. If you love your morning oats (great!) use a measuring cup to make sure you’re serving yourself the right portion (usually a ½ cup dry) instead of pouring straight from the bag. Portion control is especially vital with nut butters, as these are great in small amounts but very fattening and caloric when eaten with abandon. Use a tablespoon to measure how much you’re having. You can also pick up individually packaged nut butters, or buy them in bulk to get them slightly cheaper.

Pick the Right Foods

Fruit and oatmeal are breakfast favorites, and far be it from us to deny you the things that make your morning happy. Fruit is a great source of immediate energy, as it has high amounts of glucose. However, too much fruit can lead to unwanted (and usually unbeknownst) carb overload. It can also lead to a sugar high and post-breakfast crash. In order to round out your breakfast meal with the three macronutrients your body needs (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates), make sure you aren’t just eating bread and cereal, topped off with fruit, for breakfast. Instead, try one serving of fruit, like a sliced apple, one banana, or one cup of grapes, and pair it with 2 hardboiled eggs (which provide a great on-the-go protein punch). If you’re someone who loves to get your carbs in the morning so that you can spend all day burning them off, enjoy a bowl of oatmeal and incorporate a small handful of almonds or walnuts to round out your meal with protein and healthy fats.

Hydrate first

Finally, when we first wake up, our bodies are likely more thirsty than hungry. Instead of rushing to the fridge (or the nearest pastry shop), try drinking a big glass of warm water with lemon. If you can only get your hands on a bottle of ice water, that will do just fine! Hydrating your body is critical to controlling hunger and cravings, and drinking a big glass of water 20 minutes before a meal can prevent you from overeating.

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uditpatel • 2019 Sep 10

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