September brings an ending to summer and beginning of fall, which brings us to “Better Breakfast Month.” What is a “better” breakfast? To me, a better breakfast would be just simply eating breakfast. I only eat breakfast on days in which time allows. Little did I know that by skipping breakfast, I am missing the most important meal of the day. What are the benefits of eating a breakfast?

Breakfast not only gives us a jumpstart to our day, but can also be linked to health benefits, such as maintaining a healthy body weight or an increase in metabolism. Surprisingly, eating breakfast will not make us over eat at lunch. Skipping breakfast causes increased hunger and we then eat too much at lunchtime. We know that eating breakfast increases metabolism which helps burn fat more effectively throughout the day. Adding a few extra minutes to our routine each morning can benefit our health and performance. Let us go beyond just simply eating a breakfast because it is the healthy thing to do, and dig deeper into eating a better breakfast. How can I make my occasional breakfast a “better” breakfast?

Eating something for breakfast is better than no breakfast at all, but there is such a thing as a better breakfast. A better breakfast incorporates three main components: carbohydrates, fats, and protein. The carbohydrates our body needs in the morning comes from whole grain products. Food items such as oatmeal or whole wheat bread are included in this category. The term whole grain simply refers to the entire kernel; not only the inside part of the grain but the outer part as well, which is known as the husk. The second important component is fat. When reading the term “fat” do not imply that it is bad. There are in fact good fats and these include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. This means that fatty food products are oils such as canola, sunflower and olive, just to name a few. Pecans, peanuts and almonds are also a healthy choice. Nuts not only provide our bodies with good fats, but also contain protein, which leads to the third main component of a better breakfast. Protein cannot be stored in the body, so it is vital to ensure protein is in our daily diet. If you are not lactose intolerant, then dairy products provide an easy way to obtain protein. Milk, yogurt, cheese are all protein rich. If, however, you are lactose intolerant, an alternative to dairy products such as soy milk, provides protein in the diet.

In addition to not overeating at lunch and having an increase in metabolism, eating a better breakfast provides the body with more energy to stay focused (carbohydrates), lowers cholesterol (good fats), and repairs tissues and maintains health (protein). Instead of drinking a soda and eating a buttered-down piece of white toast, followed by a doughnut; try a glass of milk and a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter spread. And if you are feeling really healthy, sprinkle some chopped up pecans on the toast and take a banana for the road. Even though fall is just beginning, incorporating a “better” breakfast will put you ahead of the game come winter mornings when one is reluctant to head out into the cold.

Carly Holcomb
Agriculture Communications & Leadership
Illinois State University

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