Your mother always told you it was the most important meal of the day. Here’s why. "Breakfast starts your brain," says East Valley dietitian Tammy Baker. "Basically, carbohydrates are needed for the brain. . . . It’s the glucose that, really, your brain operates on."
Besides that, people who eat breakfast are less likely to be obese, have healthier nutritional profiles and fewer heart problems, and typically are more alert than their breakfast-shunning counterparts, nutritionists say.
Every year, more study results tell us we need to eat breakfast. Yet those same studies also show one out of three people skips the meal, says Terri Verason, director of nutritional education for the Dairy Council of Arizona. (Ideally, Verason says, breakfast should be consumed within two hours of waking up.)
Some people don’t like the traditional breakfast menu. Others don’t feel like eating first thing out of bed. And most abstainers cite a lack of time. But a good breakfast can be made in about three minutes, nutritionists say: How long does it take to spread peanut butter on whole-wheat toast?
Even a fast-food yogurt parfait is actually a good breakfast, Verason says. It has dairy, fruit and whole grains — three out of the five food groups. A little fat is considered good, too, because it will stay with you longer than the carbohydrates.
Children and the elderly are affected most by the lack of breakfast, when the absence of glucose translates into sluggishness, low attention span and poor memory, Baker says. But even young adults benefit from breakfast: Studies show a positive correlation between breakfast eaters and people who maintain a healthy weight.
She says just a bowl of cereal with milk constitutes a good breakfast. Toaster waffles and fruit. Low-fat or nonfat yogurt. A ham sandwich. Leftover pizza.
"Just remember that anything is better than nothing," Baker says.
Make breakfast a habit at home Be a role model: If you want your child to eat breakfast, eat it yourself.
Keep breakfast foods on hand: Have at least two easy-to-serve items from each food group.
Make it easy: Keep breakfast foods highly visible and in convenient spots for kids to grab.
Source: American Dietetic Association