Rita Maas

Five healthful breakfast tips that will keep you fueled all day long

August 15, 2008

More than any other meal, breakfast is an investment in goodhealth. Eating in the morning helps you stay focused and energizedthrough busy days. Breakfast increases the likelihood of meetingrecommended daily doses for essential vitamins and minerals thathelp prevent disease. And recent research makes the idea of amorning meal even more appetizing. A study in the Journal of theAmerican Dietetic Association found that individuals who eatbreakfast are less likely to be overweight―and more likely toexercise―than non-breakfast eaters.

Preparing a healthful breakfast is easier than you might think,no matter how busy your schedule. Just aim to incorporate thefollowing five elements of better breakfasts into your morningmeal.

1. Eat Mindfully
Sit to eat―even for five minutes―and try to focusonly on enjoying your meal, savoring the flavors and aromas. "Ifyou're eating while rushing around―getting yourself or yourkids ready for the day―you won't really feel like you've hada meal," says Lisa R. Young, Ph.D., R.D., adjunct assistantprofessor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New YorkUniversity and author of The Portion Teller. When you get to the office and seedoughnuts, you'll feel like you've already eaten.

2. Include Lean Protein
A scone or bagel may be tempting, but if you eat only refinedcarbohydrates, you'll likely be hungry again in two hours, saysBeth Casey Gold, R.D., clinical coordinator for the BehavioralWeight Management Program at the University of Vermont inBurlington.

Include protein in your morning meal: It is digested at a slowerrate than carbohydrates, which keeps blood sugar levelssteady―and helps you feel satisfied longer. Good choicesinclude skim milk (on cereal or in a latte or cappuccino), low-fatyogurt, soy or turkey sausage, low-fat cheese, or eggs(hard-boiled, poached, or scrambled in nonfat spray).

3. Fill Up with Fiber
For guaranteed breakfast satisfaction, pair lean protein witha serving of fiber-rich carbohydrates. Go for whole-grain breadsand cereals that provide at least four grams of fiber perserving.

Insoluble fiber from whole grains is largely indigestible andtakes up space in the stomach, helping you feel full. Solublefiber―also found in grains and fruit―helps lowercholesterol. These quality carbohydrates provide a long-lastingsource of energy, so you continue to feel fueled several hoursafter eating. According to research published in the InternationalJournal of Food Science and Nutrition, the energy supplied by abreakfast high in fiber-rich carbohydrates versus one that ishigh-fat may result in better mental focus during morninghours.

4. Front-Load Your Day with Nutrients
Breakfast offers an excellent opportunity to increase yourdaily vitamin and mineral intake. A recent study in the Journal ofthe American Dietetic Association reported that people who atebreakfast had higher overall intakes of vitamin B6, folic acid,vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and fiber thanpeople who skipped their morning meal. Those nutrients help protectagainst a variety of diseases, ranging from heart disease toosteoporosis.

5. Savor Your Favorite Tastes
"If you don't like what you're eating, you won't stick withit," Phelan says. If your choices aren't the most nutritious, smalltweaks can make them more healthful. For example, if you have asweet tooth in the morning, try a piece of nutty whole-grain breadspread with a tablespoon each of almond butter (it's slightlysweeter than peanut butter) and fruit preserves instead of eatingfoods that offer sweetness but little nutritional benefit, likedoughnuts or muffins. If you enjoy egg dishes but don't have timeto prepare your favorite before work, try microwaving an egg whiletoasting two slices whole wheat or rye (whole-grain) bread. Add aslice of low-fat cheese for a healthful breakfast sandwich that'sready in minutes. And don't overlook leftovers. If you feel likecold pizza (which contains antioxidant-filled tomato sauce,calcium-rich cheese, and lots of veggies), have it. It's a goodbreakfast that's better than no breakfast at all.

Nicci Micco has a master's degree innutrition and food sciences. She lives in Burlington, Vermont.

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