What Would Happen If I Didn’t Eat Breakfast?
The Most Important Meal
It is ingrained in me that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I can recite the reasons touted in all the women’s magazines that I have read (voraciously) and worked for (diligently) all my life.
- Breakfast fuels your body, revving metabolism and allowing you to focus.
- Willpower is high in the morning, allowing for healthy food choices and optimal nutrition at breakfast, while minimizing less healthy choices throughout the day.
- Taking time for breakfast allows for a mindful approach to your day.
Besides, there are some days when the only reason I get out of bed is to have that cup of coffee and to eat.
It was my mother, not magazines, who instilled the breakfast habit in me. Or rather, an extreme fear of not eating breakfast. As a girl, I would get headaches. Lie-in-the-dark, too-nauseous-to-eat migraines. My mother would anxiously hover over me. She would massage my temples, read to me, spend time with me. In retrospect, these headaches had many components: family dysfunction, school stress, perfectionism, anxiety, dehydration, less than optimal nutrition, less than optimal physical fitness, hormonal changes. I certainly learned that a good way to let people know that the world was too much for me was to shut down with a headache. My mother worriedly enabled this behavior. “It’s too much. Stay home. Rest.” She dragged me to many doctors – because doctors knew best. I was medicated for migraines with Cafergot – you had to anticipate when a migraine was coming on so that you could nip it in the bud with the medication. (Starbucks wasn’t on every street corner then.) I was also diagnosed as having hypoglycemic tendencies. (Don’t we all get irritable and shaky when we are hungry?) Thus began my fear of not eating enough. I had to have just the right quantity of food and combination of nutrients to feel good and prevent a headache. Balance the fear of not eating enough with the fear of eating too much and imagine the anxiety that resulted! Not to mention a complete disconnect between feeling hunger and satisfying that hunger appropriately. And now, add in my daughter who cannot and will not eat breakfast … truly karmic. May we all learn our own bodies and find our own way. My way is not her way.
After many (many) years of experimenting with breakfast – food choices, quantity and timing – my personal favorite breakfast that makes me feel good all the way until lunch is some kind of whole grain cereal or bread with protein, fruit, strong coffee, and – most importantly – some time to enjoy it (and digest it).
I am ALWAYS disappointed with store-bought granola. Bear Naked – blech! The only store-bought that is worth its price and its calories is Early Bird Granola. Even better, is making a batch of your own homemade granola. It is not difficult and it is so delicious! Here is my favorite recipe, adapted from a recipe by Melissa Clark in the New York Times:
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 ½ cups raw pistachios, hulled
- 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
- 1 cup coconut chips or coconut flakes
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until lightly golden and toasted. Don’t overcook. Granola keeps in an airtight container for 2 weeks.
How I eat it:
- 6 oz of yogurt (I mix 50-50: half Vanilla with half Greek Nonfat Plain)
- ½ cup of Granola
- Fresh berries
- 2/3 cup of All Bran Cereal (you get your fiber with this option!)
- 1/3 cup of Granola
- Vanilla Soy Milk (I prefer Silk, not the light version. Vanilla soy milk has more flavor than cow’s milk when combined with cereal and prevents any digestive discomfort related to lactose first thing in the morning.)
- Fresh berries
My version is not very sweet, but extremely satisfying. I make it while doing other things in the kitchen so it has time to simmer. The only annoying thing about oatmeal is cleaning the gloppy pot afterwards.
- 1 ½ cups of Vanilla Soy Milk
- 2/3 cup of Old Fashioned Oats (not quick, not instant, not steel-cut)
- 1-2 Tablespoons of sugar (to your taste. I find that as I eat less and less sugar that I don’t like things that are too sweet. A virtuous circle.)
- 3-4 Tablespoons of dried fruit (I prefer golden raisins or dried apricots or dried tart cherries)
- A sprinkle of cinnamon
Bring soy milk to a simmer. Add oats, sugar, dried fruit, and cinnamon. Simmer 5 minutes. Watch that the milk doesn’t boil too hard and overflow the pot. A mess. Turn off heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes, absorbing the liquid. Stir occasionally. Play with timing to get the right consistency to your liking. I like it thick and creamy, not too liquid-y.
1 large serving or 2 normal servings
Cinnamon Raisin Bread is so decadent it should be considered dessert. My favorite kind from the Vermont Bread Company is as healthy as it gets. I toast it and spread it with almond butter and then sometimes top this concoction with a bit of pumpkin butter. This makes for an unbelievable sandwich for lunch as well!
Whole Wheat Bagels or English Muffins
Thanks to my friend Judy, I now top my whole wheat bagel or my whole wheat English muffin with goat cheese and a bit of orange marmalade or tart cherry jam. I eat this on the weekends when I give myself permission to splurge on a bagel.
My easy go-to breakfast is Shredded Wheat ‘n Bran (65 mini squares; Yes – I count them), Vanilla soy milk, and sliced bananas. Healthy, quick, tasty.
- 1 French Press coffee pot
- 2/3 cup of coarsely ground Starbucks French Roast Coffee (their darkest and boldest option)
- 32 oz water
Scoop coffee into French Press. Bring water to boil. Pour water over coffee. Stir gently. Steep 4-5 minutes.
Serves 2 large mugs