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Food4Fuel: Smart Breakfast Meals for Montana Families

By Dayle Hayes, MS, RD

We’ve all heard that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day,’ perhaps most often from moms. And, it turns out, actual scientific research backs them up. Eating smart in the morning is essential for optimal performance at school or work – and for overall health. Breakfast eaters tend to get more key nutrients, to have healthier weights, and to enjoy a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes as well.

It’s no secret that mothers and experts recommend breakfast every day. So, why are we a nation of breakfast skippers? Most people say that time is the biggest obstacle to eating in the morning. But, let’s be honest, we can always make time for something that is important to us and a quality breakfast just isn’t that complicated. As a member of Kellogg’s Breakfast Council, I’ve recently had the opportunity to talk with scientists and review years of research. The bottom line on breakfast is clear:
   • A simple breakfast of cereal with non-fat milk delivers an array of essential nutrients for only about 150 calories per serving (average, depends on cereal).
   • Cereal with milk or yogurt provides all four nutrients that are most likely to be lacking for both children and adults – fiber, calcium, potassium and vitamin D.
   • Add a serving of fresh or dried fruit to your breakfast bowl (or a cup of 100% fruit juice beside it) and you get even more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
   • Nine out of 10 Americans do not eat enough fiber. Choose a cereal with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving and add a handful of nuts to up your daily intake.

Visit Choose MyBowl for much about cereal nutrition. Kellogg’s MyBowl™ is an educational tool (developed by the Kellogg Company and is not affiliated or endorsed by USDA) that shows how easy it is to meet dietary guidelines with cereal or other meals served in bowls.

Anyone can beat the breakfast rush with a little planning. Get ready the night before – by preparing the ingredients for fruit-yogurt smoothies or setting the table with bowls and spoons for cereal. If you can’t find time to eat at home, take your nutrition to-go. Pack a desk-top breakfast (e.g., fruit, breakfast bar, hard cooked egg, cheese stick). Check to see if your school offers a breakfast program for kids. These four tips for fuel in the morning can help your entire family enjoy all the benefits of breakfast – every day of the week!
   1. Breakfast Regularly: Skipping breakfast is a no-brainer – literally. Eat well in the morning and you’re on a nutrition fast track for a high-energy day. Nutrition experts agree that eating a smart breakfast every day helps optimal functioning in your whole body – from your brain to your feet.
   2. Breakfast Carefully: Give your body what it craves – a power breakfast every day. It’s easy as (1) whole grains (cereal, bread, rolls, etc.) for high-octane energy and fiber; (2) protein (eggs, lean meat, yogurt, low-fat dairy, etc.) for satisfaction and staying power; and (3) refreshing fruit – fresh, frozen, dried or 100% juice.
   3. Breakfast Tastefully: If your family has the breakfast ‘blahs,’ mix it up from the usual morning fare. Try slices of leftover steak or pizza. Or how about a spicy quesadilla with black beans and salsa? In some countries, breakfast is a buffet of cheeses, fruit, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, yogurt and fresh crusty bread.
   4. Breakfast Mindfully: Paying attention to your meals is one of the best ways to improve your eating habits. If you eat quickly and mindlessly, you are likely to eat more while enjoying it less. Take at least 10 minutes to savor your smart breakfast choices – and you are likely to feel satisfied until lunch time.

During the twelve weeks of Shape Up Montana, I’ll be sharing tips for every time of day and eating occasion – breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I’ll explore smart food choices and new research on all MyPlate (http://www.choosemyplate.gov) food groups. Stay tuned and discover just how easy it can be to fuel yourself well.

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