Make the most of mornings to rev up body, mind for day

February 26, 2003|by LYNN F. LITTLE

Eating a power breakfast can change your health - and your life. Moms, teachers, principals, athletes, coaches, dietitians, doctors and researchers all agree: Putting the right fuel into your body every morning can provide incredible benefits all day long.

Eating any breakfast is better than no breakfast, but the right breakfast can make a real difference. Breaking your overnight fast with the right combination of foods can help energize your whole day.

The benefits of breakfast are almost limitless. Want to reach and maintain a healthy weight? Eat breakfast! Want higher test scores at school? Eat breakfast! Need to concentrate at work? Wish you were less crabby and irritable? Wish you could pump up your nutrient intake without an expensive vitamin? Have to lower your cholesterol levels? Want more energy at the gym? Eat a power breakfast every day. No time in the morning? There are plenty of easy, tasty ways to give your body what it craves - fast. A breakfast for champions is as simple as one, two, three.


Start with a high-energy carbohydrate. A high-energy carbohydrate energizes your body and brain for a busy day. Think cereal (hot or cold), bread, muffins, rolls, tortillas or rice. Choose whole grains for an extra nutrition punch - more fiber and phytonutrients.

Add some protein. This is the missing link in most morning meals. Protein is what you need to go strong until lunch. Think lean - a slice or two of Canadian bacon, an egg, a slice of deli meat or cheese, a container of yogurt, a scoop of cottage cheese or leftover meat.

Finish with fruit. Breakfast is a great way to start on the five to nine daily servings of fruits and vegetables your body needs for optimal health.

Think fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruit like pears, apples, mangoes, berries, bananas, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi or pineapple.

For most people, time is the biggest obstacle to eating in the morning. Fortunately, there are lots of easy ways to beat the breakfast rush hour - here are three tried and true tips:

1. Get it ready the night before: Set the table with bowls and spoons for cereal. Get out a pan for pancakes or a blender for smoothies. Slice up some fruit and cheese.

2. Keep it real simple: Fancy breakfasts are wonderful when you have the time. On busy days, a sandwich, a slice of leftover pizza or a yogurt with fruit work just fine.

3. Pack it to go: If there's no time to eat at home, take your nutrition with you. Save time (and money) by packing both a brown-bag breakfast and lunch the night before.

Many schools now offer breakfast because they know that it enhances academic success and behavior in the classroom. Make sure that your kids get the most out of school - by making sure that they start every day with the energy they need to succeed.

Get on the nutrition fast track - first thing in the morning.

Lynn F. Little is extension educator with Family & Consumer Sciences of the Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

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