March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
If you are one of the millions of Americans who regularly skip breakfast, you probably think you have a reason, such as wanting to lose weight or oversleeping.
Whatever your reason, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Kristi L. King, MPH, RDN, CNSC, LD, says you're doing something wrong. "It's really important to eat breakfast in the morning. Eating breakfast helps with brain function, attention span, concentration and memory. People who eat breakfast tend to be a little bit more on top of things as far as attention and memory go. Eating breakfast can reduce irritability and tiredness," she says. "It also helps prevent overeating later in the day."
If you skip breakfast hoping to lose weight, King says you may be sabotaging your goals. "There have been studies that have shown that if you eat breakfast in the morning you are less likely to eat a large amount of calories later on in the day," King says.
Make time for your morning meal with these simple solutions.
If You Wake Up on Time, Eat ...
- Scrambled Eggs: Serve with turkey bacon, fruit and whole-grain toast.
- Whole-Grain Waffles: If you have a waffle iron, King suggests looking for a whole-grain waffle mix at the grocery store for a special treat. Serve topped with fresh fruit.
If You Hit the Snooze Button One Time, Eat ...
- English Muffin Sandwich: Toast a whole-grain English muffin. Put low-fat cheese and sliced deli ham on the toasted muffin. Warm the sandwich in the microwave to melt the cheese. Grab a piece of fruit for a complete breakfast.
- Breakfast Tacos: Scramble and cook one egg (or two egg whites). Serve eggs, salsa and low-fat cheese in corn tortillas. "I live in Texas so breakfast tacos are huge out here," King says. "I think that they are totally underrated in other parts of the country."
- Classic Cereal Gets an Upgrade: Cut up some fresh fruit and add to an unsweetened breakfast cereal. "Take your time eating it, and really enjoy the breakfast," King says. "It takes about 20 minutes for the brain to receive signals from the stomach that you're actually full."
- Yogurt Parfait: Layer yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit and granola.
If You Hit the Snooze Button Three (or More) Times, Eat ...
- Instant Oatmeal: Look for varieties without added sugar and just add boiling water.
- 45-Second Scrambled Eggs: "This is one of my key things that people don't know that you can do: You can actually cook eggs in the microwave! It takes about 45 seconds." King says. "Put eggs and a splash of milk in a bowl, scramble it up, put it in a microwave for 30 seconds. Stir it up and put it back in for another 10 seconds. And your scrambled eggs are done. You can eat it right out of the mug or the bowl it's in."
- Peanut Butter Sandwich: Grab a banana while you're at it.
- Cream Cheese on Bread: Try it on a bagel or tortillas.