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Eat well in the morning

February 07, 2012|Lynn Little

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? Eat breakfast.

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 breakfast.

Skip breakfast — and your brain and body suffer all day. Eat well in the morning and you get on the nutrition fast track for a healthy day. Breakfast is easy and essential wherever you eat — home, school, work or drive-through.

Breaking your overnight fast with the right combination of foods can help energize your whole day. Why eat in the morning?

 Refuel your body after a long overnight fast.

 Rev up your metabolism for healthy weight.

 Kick start your brain for school or work.

 Improve your mood and get rid of grumpiness.

Putting the right fuel into your body every morning can provide benefits all day long.

What foods make a power breakfast?

 Carbohydrates: 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.

 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.

 Fruit: Breakfast is a great way to start on the 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruits we should consume each day for optimal health. Think fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruit. Good choices include pears, apples, mangoes, berries, bananas, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi or pineapple. Any fruit or 100-percent fruit juice counts. 

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. Three tried and true tips are: 

 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.

 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.

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

Make sure you and your family get the most out of every day by starting the day with the energy you need to succeed. Eat breakfast. Eating a nutrient-dense breakfast might also help you lose weight and keep it off.

For more tips and ideas, visit www.choosemyplate.gov

Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Extension in Washington County.

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