You’ve heard it 5,283 times in your life already—Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The word “breakfast” literally means to “break the fast.” You haven’t eaten anything since dinner (10-12 hours ago), and your body is ready for some food after a night of fasting. It’s an opportunity to start your day out on the right foot, in more ways than one.
The job of your breakfast is to set your energy levels and metabolic rate for the day, and to give your body a much-needed dose of nourishment. Your breakfast might be healthy, organic and taste amazing, but if it doesn’t give your body what it needs in the morning, it can make or break your day.
Do you never seem to have enough time in the morning?
Do you find yourself slamming down a bowl of cereal, grabbing a piece of toast and a banana, or picking up a pastry with your morning coffee?
Do you find that you get hungry way before lunch, crash from your sugar/caffeine high, or can barely concentrate on your work?
If this at all resembles your morning experience, it’s time for you to fire your breakfast. It’s not doing its job.
Don’t put up with a breakfast that doesn’t work for you. There are too many delicious and nutritious options out there. But how do you find what foods work best for your body?
Here are 7 steps for rethinking breakfast and finding your optimal morning meal.
Step 1 : Consider your energy demands
Are you constantly moving around or do you sit for most of the day? If you are active, your body will need more fuel to keep up with you. If you are more stationary or less active, your body’s energy requirements are going to be less.
The more honest you are with yourself about your activity level, the easier it will be to meet the demands of your body. It’s also a great time to re-evaluate the role of exercise and movement in your life, and to find more exciting ways to move.
Step 2 : Be realistic with your time
Healthy meals don’t have to take hours to prepare. Whatever your pace of life is, own it and plan your meals accordingly. There are great ways to save time and make it easier for you to make good breakfast choices.
Use leftover rice and make a hot rice cereal with fruit. Chop up fruits or veggies the night before so they are ready to toss in the blender for a tasty smoothie. Get up 10 minutes earlier so you aren’t tempted to eat out when you’re running late. There are many ways to be healthy when busy.
Step 3 : Notice your energy levels after eating
The food we eat is the fuel for our body. It’s important to make sure we are consuming food that actually gives us energy, not drains it. The way we feel after eating a meal is our body’s way of communicating with us. Can you make it until lunch, or are you starving and need a snack an hour after breakfast?
This is a great practice in learning to be more self-aware.
Step 4 : Listen to your body’s messages
Pay attention and see if you feel tired, heavy, sluggish, bloated, or experience any kind of indigestion after eating. It could be an indication of certain foods that don’t work for your body in the morning.
Maybe you can eat yogurt any other time of day, but in the morning it feels too heavy. Or you notice that too much fruit makes your energy spike and crash quickly. Tuning into these messages will help you build a stronger body-mind connection. Your body is wise, and you are wise to listen!
Step 5 : Protein or Carbs?
Do you feel best and get the most energy when you have things such as eggs, protein powder, tofu or meat for breakfast? Or do you thrive on foods like oatmeal, rice porridge, or muesli?
Complex carbs and protein are both great forms of long-lasting energy, yet everyone’s unique body processes them with differing levels of ease. Experiment around and see how your body feels with each.
I ate “traditional” breakfast foods until I was about 24 years old, which only made my undiagnosed case of hypoglycemia worse. After discovering that protein in the a.m. is a must for me, I no longer suffer from wild mood swings, frequent energy crashes, and the occasional 3-year old meltdown (I’m a big girl now).
Step 6 : Experiment with “non-traditional” breakfast foods
People love having breakfast for dinner, so why not bring a little dinner flavor to breakfast? Sautéed veggies (fresh or leftover) with farm-fresh scrambled eggs. Soft corn tacos with curried tofu and shredded veggies. In the cold winter months, heat up some soup and start the day out warm from the inside out. Get creative!
Step 7 : Drink some of your breakfast
Smoothies and juices are an amazing way to get massive amounts of minerals, vitamins and fresh produce into your diet. Whether you start the day out with a green juice or a protein-packed superfood smoothie, you’ve done some of the work for your body already. It will thank you with increased energy, better digestion, and happy taste buds.
There’s more to breakfast than pancakes, cereals, muffins and pastries. Start the day out right by feed yourself foods that make you feel great. Your life deserves it.