Mom Always Said…

By Dr. Michelle Zarrillo 


Besides, “Don’t play ball in the house,” haven’t we all heard growing up that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”? Yet, from our teen years until you hit the senior age bracket, up to 40% of Americans don’t eat breakfast. Some figures have this number as high as 50%. Of those that do actually eat breakfast, less than 20% get a truly healthy breakfast. Mommies are still doing the best job, as 80% of all small children eat breakfast; unfortunately the Mommies themselves are not applying the same lesson. Half of those that do eat breakfast admit to “wolfing something down” or “grabbing on the go”. Now, I ask you, is this any way to treat the most important meal of the day?

What are people actually eating? Did you know almost half of all Americans have eaten cold pizza or cold spaghetti for breakfast? How about doughnut and a Coke or Captain’s Crunch? Some just have 5 cups of coffee. It is a far cry from the “balanced breakfast” we were encouraged to eat when I was growing up. Cold cereal is the top choice for breakfast but not really Cheerios, Corn Flakes, Raisin Bran and Rice Crispies; more people eat Honey Nut type cereals and, of course, Frosted Flakes. J Are we such “non-morning people” that we can’t spend some time preparing a healthy breakfast?   The average adult spends 13 minutes in total time eating breakfast and that includes prep time.

So, is breakfast actually worth the effort? Studies done with school children have shown increased mental clarity, concentration, strength and stamina are directly related to eating breakfast. A 2003 study by Journal of American Epidemiology stated that skipping breakfast increased your chance of obesity by 4.5%. Many people try to “save calories” here by skipping this meal and it is actually a bad idea. Eating breakfast has been proven to help balance your blood sugar and increase your energy levels. Breakfast eaters generally make wiser food choices. Perhaps, the lack of ravenous cravings from skipping meals makes one a more discriminating eater. Eating breakfast has even been shown to improve short term memory and let’s not forget it begins your metabolism for the day, as you “break” “fast.” Also, if you find you “just can’t stomach” breakfast, take a look at what you are eating before bed. Eating too late or eating foods that don’t “agree” with you can still be causing havoc in your stomach the following morning. A glass of cool water with a splash of lemon sometimes can cleanse the palate and give you a fresh start.

What should you eat? Well let’s start with what you should not eat…..doughnuts, sugary cereal, bagels, pancakes, juice drinks, soda…anything that raises your blood sugar too quickly is a poor choice. Remember the term that was hammered into our heads…balanced breakfast. Multiple components, such as whole grains and protein make healthier choices. This can look like an omelet with toast (like Ezekiel bread) or yogurt (not low fat) with fruit and nuts. If time is too much of an issue, a smoothie with protein powder added to it can fit the bill. Oatmeal with fruit and nuts is quick, easy and filling. Even a cup of coffee is fine, just not ONLY a cup of coffee. For a long time, several of my children did not enjoy ANY breakfast type foods. We did an eating geography tour and tried breakfast from different countries. A healthy breakfast can look different than an American breakfast.  My children loved Japanese Miso soup with tofu, go figure. And even my “I don’t like eggs” eaters enjoyed it with black beans and salsa. It really is O.K. to think outside the box.

If you are a person who is concerned about their weight, mental clarity, strength, stamina, memory or even wanting to make healthier food choices, then start the day right. Bible and Breakfast…don’t skip either.



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