The benefits of eating a balanced breakfast are many (more on what balanced means in a minute). The biggest change that I see in my patients who switch from being breakfast skippers to regular breakfast eaters is that they have balanced energy throughout the day and improved mental clarity.
The afternoon slump (usually between 2-4pm) that once lured them to a cup of coffee, a cookie or a piece of chocolate no longer occurs. Gone is the insidious brain fog that compelled them to leave work early. Now these clients have enough energy and motivation left over to cook themselves a real dinner that nourishes the body and brightens the soul. Those with children fully enjoy evenings with their family. Quite a change from feeling harried, stressed and hoping to just hang in there until bedtime.
All of this because of breakfast, you say?
Why yes, actually. And it’s all about blood sugar. Eating a balanced breakfast that includes protein (10-15 g is a good rule of thumb) is the best way to put your blood sugar on the right track. This means that cereal (even steel cut oatmeal), muffins and fruit are not your best choices. To give you a delicious and smart kick start, I’ve included links to easy breakfast recipes at the bottom of this post.
What happens if you ignore breakfast?
Your endocrine system has to do a whole lot of work to keep your brain and body supplied with glucose. The most notable hormone that is produced is cortisol. This is the “stress hormone” that, when produced in excess, depresses immune function and contributes to abdominal weight gain, insomnia and irritability. Then insulin and glucagon get involved and inevitably your blood sugar is yo-yoing up and down for the rest of the day, which leads to energy fluctuations, brain fog and poor food choices.
So how do you get started?
Prepping the night before really helps. You can even go so far as setting aside some weekend time to prepare a frittata or some breakfast patties. If the idea of putting a bite of food in your mouth in the a.m. makes you nauseous, start with just a bite of something relatively benign—a chicken breast or a breakfast sausage—and try a little apple cider vinegar 15-20 minutes before you eat; 1 tsp in 1-2 oz of water will stimulate digestive juices and get you hungry. My morning favorite? An ultra-delish green smoothie and an organic, uncured chicken apple sausage.
— Dr. Tara
Breakfast recipes that promote your health and awareness:
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