Here are the steps to starting your day off on the right foot:
1. Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation or a bad night's sleep can make us feel nauseated and bloated. This will starve off feelings of hunger until later in the morning when tiredness begins to be mistaken for hunger. You are more likely to eat candy bars and fatty baked goods later in the day to calm the queasy stomach if this is why you skipped breakfast.
2. Map out a variety of choices for breakfast. Some of us dislike the same breakfast food on our plate every morning. If the thought of cornflakes, pop tarts or toast has you reaching for the car keys with an empty stomach, it's time to vary your choices. Consider the following possibilities:
- Cereals - steel-cut oatmeal or whole oats, Udi's or Bare Naked Granola, Kashi Go Lean or Go Lean Crunch cereal, Optimum cereals. (Avoid high-sugar cereals)
- Fruits - sliced into your cereal; bowl of fruit, 1/4 c granola and Greek yogurt; smoothies, etc.
- Breads - Arnold Double Protein bread (or high-fiber whole-grain bread: 4-5g per slice); French toast made with high-fiber whole-grain bread; Cedars whole wheat wraps; Joseph's Flax, oat bran & whole wheat flour lavash breads, tortillas or pitas.
- Spreads - All-natural peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower butter; all-fruit jams and jellies
- Eggs - the manner of preparing them is endless; add sauces such as salsa, soy sauce, and Tabasco for variety
- Beans - baked beans, beans and rice, refried beans in a breakfast burrito made with a wrap from above, etc.
- Meats - turkey bacon and eggs, low-fat chicken sausage and eggs, smoked fish, etc.
- Drinks - smoothies (fruit/low or non-fat milk/soy), freshly squeezed juice - 100% juice, low-sodium vegetable juices - ex. low-sodium V-8
- Frozen Foods - Although frozen foods do not tend to be as healthful as fresh foods, there are endless varieties of breakfast burritios (Amy's Breakfast Scramble wrap, low-sodium breakfast burritos, Steel-Cut Oats Hot Cereal Bowl, Mexican Tofu Scramble, Multi-Grain Hot Cereal Bowl, etc.)
- Leftovers or foods that are more typically thought of as dinner foods can be good options if you are not a fan of breakfast foods.
3. Advice on substantial breakfasts. There is a saying: "Eat like a king for breakfast, a queen for lunch and a pauper for dinner." This makes sense as most of our activity is during the course of the day - not in the evening when a lot of us are used to consuming larger meals. If you have a more sedentary job, you are more likely to benefit from "grazing" - eating smaller amounts more frequently during the day. This might just make breakfast a palatable option for you as you will only need to consider eating half an apple with peanut butter, or a cupful of strawberries with Greek yogurt, or one piece of whole-grain toast with peanut butter, etc. to start out your day. As the day progresses, nibble on healthy portions every 3 hours striving to include a food with a source of protein (ex. plain or Greek yogurt, unsalted nuts or seeds, nut butter, cheese, protein shake or protein bar - refer to previous post on healthier protein bar options, etc.
4. Take care with the main meal. For many workers, dinner often ends up being the main meal. This could be having an impact on your breakfast desire. If this meal is very important in your household (e.g., it is the only time the family sits together) enjoy this time. Keep in mind, however, that the foods you enjoy together can be healthy choices. Try keeping your carbohydrate portions to a minimum and focusing more on your lean protein and vegetable intake. Try doing a stir-fry with sauteed chicken and vegetables, and serve with a salad. If you do have rice, pasta, or potato, keep your portions to a 1/2 - 3/4 cup or 1/2 potato or sweet potato. Try to finish your meal at least 2 - 2 1/2 hours prior to bedtime. That way the food will digest before you go to bed and your body can then begin to work its way towards morning hunger.
5. Check your lunch and dinner calories. If you are having both large lunches (especially in a business environment) and a large evening meal, you are probably removing your morning's hunger as the food is still being digested. Try eating a larger breakfast combined with making healthy choices both eating out and at home; while this will probably be hard at first, it might help to lessen the amounts you consume later in the day, thereby making it easier to eat more at breakfast. It will also make weight maintenance easier.
6. Exercise before breakfast. This might help you to work up an appetite prior to heading off to work for the day. At the very least, drink a small smoothie or a glass of 100% fruit juice prior to your workout to give your body some vitamins and a small amount of fiber. Make sure to refuel within 15 - 30 minutes after your workout with a source of protein and carbohydrate. A Greek yogurt with fruit would suffice, or if time allows, a few eggs and a piece of toast could work as well.
7. Allow enough time for breakfast. If you are feeling stressed or in a rush in the morning you may be less inclined to spend the time on a good breakfast. Try to prioritize sitting down for a relaxed meal (this can be true for all meals of the day.)
8. Drink juice at the very least. If you really feel too nauseated or can't fathom the thought of chewing, down a glass of juice (such as 100% orange juice) to give your body some energy. Try it before you take a shower, get dressed etc.; it may increase your desire for eating something afterwards by waking up your stomach after a long fast. Avoid drinks with fat in them (such as milk) which takes longer to digest, and may give you a feeling of fullness/satisfaction, leading to skipping breakfast altogether. If your stomach is sensitive to the acid in, say orange juice or apple juice, try 100% grape juice.
9. Don't snack at night. Some people, especially those who tend toward bedtime heartburn, stop eating a few hours before they head to bed. This makes them hungry enough to eat breakfast, and may also help them cut back on "empty" calories. If you absolutely need late night snacks, try small portions such as cheese cubes, apple slices, a banana or hot drinks like decaffeinated tea.
Hopefully tips like these will help you to make the switch and begin eating breakfast each day. Feel free to contact me for more information.