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Your Most Important Meal of the Day

By Jennifer Grable, NC Cooperative Extension Agent and Person County Lifestyle Coach


What happens when we don’t supply our brains with enough energy for the day? We tend to become irritable, lethargic, and even develop headaches. The best solution to avoid these is to make sure our body has the calories and nutrients it needs to help us think clearly the whole day. The best place to start is with breakfast. Breakfast literally means “to break the fast.” When we wake up in the morning, it has been about eight hours or more since the last time we’ve eaten any food. A healthy breakfast can improve our attention and concentration on our morning tasks. This is especially important for school age children.Teachers often report that children who don’t eat breakfast become restless and inattentive by late morning. Breakfast is also important because it provides about ¼ of our daily calories and nutrients. A nutritious breakfast is exactly what a growing child and a busy adult needs. Without it, they are unlikely to make up this nutritional loss through other meals/snacks during the day.

A healthy breakfast can be as simple as a banana and peanut butter sandwich. Make that bread whole-grain and you have an even healthier meal! Low-fat milk and cereal, toasted cheese sandwich, and orange juice will help you make it through the morning. For an extra boost, include some protein, such as lean meat, an egg, peanut butter, or beans.

One of the biggest problems people have with breakfast is they simply stop somewhere on their way into work and grab a quick, unhealthy option for breakfast. For many, eating breakfast out is a treat. It’s a great way to start the day and also reconnect with family and friends. But, how can you eat breakfast out and still strive for “healthful”? Here are a few options:

  • Only eat one egg—you can be satisfied with just one. Many people eat two out of habit.
  • Share a two egg breakfast at a local restaurant – each get one egg, one slice of whole wheat toast, and one slice of bacon. It saves calories and helps the budget, too.
  • Go for a veggie omelet. If you still want the cheese, why not go for an egg white vegetable omelet and keep the cheese? It’s a trade-off. Vegetable omelets are a great way to help meet that daily vegetable recommendation.
  • Egg white sandwiches at fast food breakfast places is a healthy option when you need a quick, cheap bite. You can take the Canadian bacon off, or feel comfortable that it has more protein and less fat than “regular” bacon.

Oatmeal at a restaurant can be costly and quite often “instant” and not a good source of fiber. Also, eating cold cereal out does not usually offer good options for high fiber and low sugar. Restaurants tend to not have low-fat or skim milk or yogurts available.

Overall, eating breakfast at home provides more healthful options. However, with some careful selections, a friendly restaurant, and perhaps even an agreeable dining companion, eating breakfast out does not have to sabotage an otherwise healthful diet.

How do you start your day?