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Meal Planning: Healthy Breakfasts

Planning meals can be a challenge, but a little guidance can make it less daunting. Use these suggestions for some healthy meals this week, and add the foods you’ll find here to your grocery list!

When planning your grocery list for this week’s meals, don’t forget the first meal of the day! It's easy to eat right in the morning: the ideal breakfast should provide one quarter to one third of your day's protein, a fair amount of fiber (as found in low-glycemic carbohydrates) and some healthy fat. Here are some quick, healthful ideas on food to buy:

  1. Canned, wild Alaskan salmon. The traditional Japanese breakfast features broiled fish, steamed rice, pickled vegetables and green tea. Using canned, wild Alaskan salmon along with leftover rice and vegetables makes this a quick meal.
  2. Granola and yogurt. Choose granola or make one that's low in sugar or other sweeteners, and opt for full-fat plain Greek yogurt, fruit and walnuts.
  3. Eggs. Keep some hardboiled eggs (choose free-range, omega-3 fortified eggs) on hand to eat with sprouted grain toast. Include a piece of fruit like an orange or grapefruit and a container of plain, unsweetened yogurt.
  4. Dark, leafy greens. Spinach, kale and other dark, leafy greens are a nutritious addition to any breakfast – use with your eggs to create a vegetable scramble.
  5. Berries. Choose organic blueberries or raspberries for their fiber and antioxidants – add to your yogurt or top steel-cut oatmeal with a handful.
  6. Coffee or green tea. Coffee is a good source of antioxidants, and research has linked coffee to a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes as well as improved mental health as you age. I suggest finding an organic or fair trade version. If coffee causes side effects such as anxiety, tremors or irritation of the digestive system, drink green tea - it is a very healthy alternative.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s Daily Tip, for information on what not to eat for breakfast!

Can Skipping Breakfast Ruin Your Diet?

The latest word on this subject is “no.” The question of whether or not skipping breakfast is key to weight loss has been asked and answered in any number of studies and the answers have often been contradictory. The latest effort to determine whether or not eating breakfast has an impact on weight loss came from the University of Alabama, where researchers looked at the effect of eating or skipping breakfast on 309 healthy overweight and obese people ages 20 to 65. One group was asked to eat breakfast before 10 a.m. while those in another group were asked not to eat anything before 11 a.m. A third group, divided between people who habitually skipped breakfast and those who always ate it, was not given any instruction about whether or not to eat the morning meal. None of the participants was on a strict weight loss plan, but all were trying to lose weight independently. After 16 weeks, skipping or eating breakfast had no discernible effect on weight loss. Study leader Emily Dhurandhar, Ph.D., said future studies would be aimed at understanding “why eating or skipping breakfast did not influence weight loss, despite evidence that breakfast may influence appetite and metabolism.”

Emily J. Dhurandhar et al, “The effectiveness of breakfast recommendations on weight loss: a randomized controlled trial,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
doi: 10.3945/ ajcn.114.089573

How Often Do You Skip Breakfast? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed breakfast and the effects of eating in the morning: Doing Without Breakfast? Check out the article and let us know how often you eat breakfast.

Power Breakfast for Your Heart

Eating breakfast may help protect you from heart disease...and late night snacking could do you in. These findings come from a 16-year study which examined the lifestyles of 26,902 male health professionals, and illustrate the power eating habits can have over our health. It showed that participants who skipped breakfast had a 27 percent higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease than those who said they had morning meals. The study, from the Harvard School of Public Health, looked at data from questionnaires the men completed that delved into such issues as how much time they spent watching television, how much they exercised and slept, the quality of their diets, the amount of alcohol they drank, whether they smoked, their medical history, BMI, whether they worked full-time, were married and if had regular physical exams. Late night eating – after going to bed – raised the risk of heart disease by 55 percent, but the researchers noted that not many of the men in the study reported getting up in the wee hours to eat. The study was published in the July 23, 2012 issue of Circulation.

My take? I enjoy breakfast and feel it gives me the energy I need to start my day, but I know many people who skip a morning meal because they aren’t hungry, are in a hurry, or don’t believe it’s necessary. These new findings suggest that it might be wise to rethink that position. Aside from what this study tells us about breakfast and heart health, previous research has suggested that among people who want to lose weight, those who eat breakfast tend to lose more extra pounds than those who skip the morning meal. My typical breakfast includes a bowl of matcha tea, ½ cup of frozen organic berries (thawed), and a slice of wholegrain bread with baked, pressed tofu or smoked salmon. In general, I try to get 30 percent of my calories from fat, 50 percent from carbohydrates, and 20 percent protein at each meal.

Leah E. Cahill, et al “Prospective Study of Breakfast Eating and Incident Coronary Heart Disease in a Cohort of Male US Health Professionals,” Circulation. 2013;128:337-343,  doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.001474