Perryman Nutrition Column: Breakfast is the Winning Solution

Note to Reporters: The following column is written by Shirley Perryman, an Extension specialist in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. The department is part of the College of Applied Human Sciences at Colorado State University.

If someone could figure out how to lower the climbing rate of obesity, it could be like winning the lottery, though research may be on the right track for a solution. A recent study linked lack of adequate sleep to the growing problem of obesity and other research has shown the importance of eating a good breakfast for weight management.

Do you choose sleep over breakfast? Breakfast skippers tend to make up for those calories later in the day by overeating at meals or snacking more often throughout the day. Whether you’re a parent of young kids, a college student, in the work force or in your retirement years, breakfast is the most important meal of your day.

Whatever your lifestyle, get adequate rest and consider these ideas for a healthy breakfast to look and feel your best:
– Avoid wasting your money on vending machine offerings or the drive-through. Instead, have things on hand.
– Take the time in the grocery store to read nutrition fact labels on pre-packaged foods.
– If you eat breakfast at home save time in the mornings to pre-set the table the night before. If you eat breakfast on the run, have something healthy pre-packaged and ready-to-go.
– If you are a weekend warrior in the kitchen, make your own granola, waffles or muffins to keep in the freezer for a quick morning breakfast.

If you don’t have time in the morning for a sit down breakfast and need to grab-and-go, try:

– Ready-to-eat cereal in a sealed plastic bag or granola or protein bars with the least amount of added sugar and the most fiber. Visualize that 4 grams of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar. The more fiber the better.
– Fresh fruit has more fiber than juice. If you choose juice, be certain it’s 100 percent fruit juice and not a fruit-flavored, added-sugar beverage in a pouch.
– Yogurt with the least amount of added sugar. Better yet combine unflavored yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit the night before. Don’t forget to take along the plastic spoon.
– Trail mix made of dried fruit, nuts, bite size whole grain cereal. Skip or add only a few chocolate chips, yogurt-covered raisins or other added sugar tidbits.

If you have time to pop something in the toaster or microwave or get out the blender, choose:

– Instant oatmeal with the least amount of added sugar.
– Whole grain waffles, toast or mini-bagels topped with peanut butter rather than high sugar, low fiber toaster pastries.
– French toast or pancakes from the freezer topped with either fresh or frozen fruit.
– Fresh or frozen fruit smoothies made with low fat plain yogurt.

If you don’t like traditional breakfast foods, try:
– Sandwiches made with 100 percent whole wheat bread with peanut butter or grilled cheese.
– Leftovers such as pizza are often a favorite—cold or warmed. Make or order your pizza with half the cheese to lower the fat content.
– Pre-cooked rice –preferably higher-fiber brown rice — with dried fruit, nuts and low-fat milk.
– Low-fat string cheese and lower sodium crackers.
– Fresh fruit dipped in fruit-flavored yogurt.
– Scrambled eggs topped with fruit salsa wrapped in a whole grain tortilla.
– Cottage cheese and fresh fruit or fruit canned in juice.

If these healthy ideas are not your cup of tea and you’re a breakfast skipper, resolve just to eat something. Doughnuts, pastries or fast-food breakfast biscuits as regular fare are most likely to show up on your waistline and strain your budget. Focus first on establishing the good habit of eating breakfast and then make healthier choices a priority to get your body and brain off to the best start every day!