Tuesday, August 16, 2011

back to school -- what's for breakfast?

it's that time of year again....moms and kids are out shopping with the school supply list, major retailers are stocked to the brim with classroom supplies, school clothes, sports gear, everything the returning student needs.  It's also time for the cereal and other breakfast food manufacturers to boost their campaigns to win a place at your breakfast table.  Unfortunately they don't deserve that place and I hope you don't give it to them.

not for breakfast | photo: cohdra
In my practice I see so many people who start their day (or their kids day) with what has come to be recognized as the typical American breakfast -- cereal, milk, juice, maybe toast and jam.  Or perhaps a bagel and cream cheese.  Many confess to just a donut and coffee -- which these days is a grande double shot caramel macchiato extra whip but that's a different post altogether.  I'm often surprised at how many people say "I know breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day but I just don't have time."

This is a reminder.  You need to make the time.  Not just for your kids, but also for you.  Yes, breakfast IS the most important meal of the day.  It replenishes the furnace of your body after the metabolic slowdown of sleep.  It should provide protein to help boost the amino acids that are needed for neurotransmitter production.  It should provide a healthy fat to help keep that furnace going slow and steady instead of heading into overdrive with quick-to-digest, blood sugar crashing, simple carbohydrates.

This is also a reminder to avoid front-of-label packaging.  The pretty pictures may look nice and the marketing verbiage may sound good but when you actually read the label it's a different story.

The ad to the side there is a perfect example.  It's part of a video ad online that shows energetic, active, healthy-appearing children.  However the product does little to support their health.  Sure it's made with more whole grains than it used to be, but what about all of the sugar, the artificial colors, the other chemical non-food ingredients.  Plus the ads usually say something along the lines of "part of a balanced breakfast" with a big cup of juice and some toast.

As I've mentioned above, this is far from a balanced breakfast.  Is it better than skipping breakfast?  I hesitate to say it but the answer there would be yes but not by a whole lot.  Anything is better than skipping breakfast.  However if you want to have your kids get a good start to the day you will do best to feed them nutritionally dense foods.  This in turn will help them stay focused, keep their blood sugar level, and help reduce some of that 5 p.m. "witching hour" behavior (believe it or not that behavior starts with a poor-blood-sugar-balancing breakfast).  You need to feed them real food.

Brazilian Breakfast Buffet | photo:  Jeff Belmonte
Protein can be eggs, beans, chicken breast, preservative free sausages or bacon.  For a healthy fat choose avocado, coconut oil, or real organic butter.  Get in some delicious whole foods, fruits and veg are a great choice.  While it may seem a little unusual to start your day that way that's simply because it's not what you're used to. But you can make changes that are healthy and will help you to feel better.  Changes such as the Brazilian Breakfast Buffet on the right there.  I see meats, dairy, vegetables, and and egg to go along with some bread, butter and jam as condiments.  Learn to think outside the box (literally).

green shake | photo: alvimann
Are you an on-the-go-don't-have-time-for-breakfast teen or adult?  Then make yourself a protein smoothie.  With a great balancing whey protein, a good nut milk, some chia seeds, a piece of fruit and a handful of spinach it can be a filling and nutritious start to your day.  For many of my clients who fit this profile I point out that this is a wonderful, quick way to get out the door.  They can then have a second breakfast or snack later in the day and continue balancing their blood sugars with a great avocado chicken tomato wrap or veggies with hummus or....the possibilities are endless.

Many times clients who've made this shift discover that they are no longer experiencing that 3:00 p.m. I-need-a-candy-bar crash.  They feel better, and they are nutritionally going to do better by supporting their body.

School starts soon and many of us are going to be back on that tightly scheduled roller coaster.  Plan now so you know what you're going to serve.  Give them a good start.

No comments: