There is so much controversy around the role of breakfast in a healthy lifestyle — but the truth is the answer will vary depending on who you ask. For some people, breakfast typically is eaten in close proximity to waking up — and for others, it may be hours later. In my work with patients, I always take the individual’s needs into consideration as well as their current health status. This guides our conversations around the importance of breakfast in relation to their personal situation. The quality of what’s on their breakfast plate is always key. We like to take a look at what they’re eating and what proportions. For those who choose to eat an early breakfast, having a plan in place for a nutritious and energy-providing meal can help ensure that they’re set up for success.
How to build a better breakfast
I like to recommend that people start with a flavor profile they already like — whether it be sweet, savory or both. Starting the day off with an enjoyable meal can make the rest of the day’s experiences much better. Don’t be afraid to add more variety as breakfast tends to be the most monotonous meal of the day.
Planning ahead with certain items can also help to make breakfast a breeze. Batch prepare things like muffins or pancake and waffle batters, create smoothie kits, or make a couple of days worth of mini quiches or egg bite cups.
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Eat in alignment with the seasons. Preparing things like a cold breakfast smoothie can help make a hot summer day just a bit cooler and can help to avoid adding unnecessary heat from a stove or oven to the already warm kitchen. Conversely, making breakfast porridge with seasonal spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove in the fall and winter is a great warming option.
TODAY Illustration / Marco Borges
Vegetables don’t have to be saved only for lunch and dinner times! Play with fibrous foods at the start of the day. Breakfast salads are a great choice along with roasted root vegetables topped with a protein of choice.
Here are a few tips to start your day off right:
- Start with a flavor profile that you like.
- Prep ahead when possible, such as making your pancake or waffle batter in advance or making your muffins and freezing them.
- Think out of the breakfast box — savory breakfasts can be very delicious (think: upcycling your leftovers from dinner).
- Don’t abandon your cultural foods, make space for them.
- Let the seasons be the driver of your creations.
- Get funky with fiber beyond oatmeal and toast — yes, you can eat veggies at the start of your day.
Try these out-of-the-box breakfast ideas
How do you put these tips into action? Here are three ideas:
- Savory ancient grain bowl made with quinoa, wild rice, zucchini, and shallots — topped with an egg.
- Turmeric berry waffle made with fiber-rich almond, einkorn, and spelt flours.
- Herby eggs with salsa verde and blistered shishito and baby bell peppers.
What about eggs?
A discussion about breakfast would not be complete without a word about eggs. Eggs have been demonized in the past for raising blood cholesterol levels, however recent research has found an intake of one egg per day perfectly acceptable. Eggs are nutrient powerhouses and provide many essential nutrients as well as dietary fat which helps to absorb certain fat-soluble vitamins. They’re also a complete protein source and the combination of protein and fat creates a satiating meal option that can keep us feeling full and energized until the next mealtime.
Not a breakfast person?
Breakfast is not a necessary part of a healthy pattern of eating. If you’re not a breakfast person, it’s OK to skip it. It doesn’t need to be a staple part of everyone’s day. Some find that their energy and productivity levels are better on an empty stomach. However, if your body is sending hunger signals, honor them and nourish yourself. The first meal of the day will look different for everyone. The key is to do your best to make it a healthy meal that will keep you full and satisfied.