Have you ever heard the quote “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” The answer most likely is yes, but does the average citizen take this advice to heart? Apparently not, as a national survey conducted by The Canadian Council of Food and Nutrition showed that “less than two thirds of Canadians” eat breakfast daily. Translating literally to “break the fast”, breakfast is meant to kick start your metabolism after a good night’s sleep. An investigation into the National Weight Control Registry showed that seventy-eight percent of individuals enrolled (people who have lost and maintained a significantly amount of weight) say they eat breakfast on all mornings of the week. Many studies have shown conclusively that breakfast prevents overeating at nighttime, which is when people are most likely to consume unhealthy snacks. A common issue many people face is that they simply do not feel hungry upon wakening. The key to tackling this barrier is to start small and work your way up to becoming a “morning person” as your body slowly adapts. Start by trying liquids like a glass of milk, yogurt smoothie, or unsweetened latte in the morning The reason I don’t suggest a glass of juice is because I see juice as empty calories with no fibre, very little nutrition and will only leave you with a huge spike in blood sugar like a can of pop (more to come on this later!).
Rushed for time? To make life easier, there are some simple solutions for breakfast on the go; a few slices of low-fat cheese and whole-grain crackers, one cup plain steel cut oats topped with dried fruit, a whole-grain granola bar and a glass of milk, an individual greek yoghurt sprinkled with nuts, a nut butter and banana sandwich, one boiled egg and an apple or a smoothie made from ½ cup each frozen fruit, low-fat milk or yoghurt and a splash of OJ. Go for frozen or canned fruit over fresh produce if tight for money, but check the labels for no added sugars. Leftovers can also make a quick and nutritious packed breakfast for the next morning; those last two pieces of whole-wheat vegetarian pizza provide carbohydrates, one milk serving and even vitamins from the vegetables.
Good sources of whole-grains to include in breakfast are cooked oatmeal, muffins baked using wheat germ, flaxseed or bran and breads or cereals made without refined or processed flours. One consumer trap to watch for is foods claiming to be whole-grain but in reality are extremely unhealthy. A perfect example of this would be Tim Horton’s whole grain raspberry muffin that holds a whopping 400 calories and 17 grams of fat! Consumers should read food labels for total calories, saturated fat content and sugars to check it’s not a health food impostor. Many restaurants also post nutritional information on-line, so review your favourite morning stop’s offering to see exactly how many grams of sugar or unhealthy fats are in that pastry or breakfast sandwich.