What if you discovered that the first meal of the day doesn't have to consist of the typical breakfasts we've been accustomed to eating? Once you learn to treat breaking the fast as no different than other meals of the day, breakfast will never be the same.
Bagels and cream cheese, toast and jam, pastries, coffee cake, cereal, and oatmeal...All of these are familiar foods that are typically eaten to break the overnight fast. What if you were told that breakfast doesn't have to solely rely on these types of foods, and with a change of perspective and approach that more options would arise? Rethinking breakfast may help you to get out of a breakfast rut while also doing a favor for your health.
Why should one reevaluate these common morning meal foods? Many of these classic breakfast menu items tend to be more carbohydrate-heavy, processed, and/or packed with sugar. For instance, many consumers are well aware of the fact that most boxed cereals are refined, loaded with all types of sweeteners, and devoid of most nutrients (hence the need to fortify them). Meanwhile, children suffer from diagnoses of ADHD more than ever. Beginning your day with a bowl of sugar is not the most nutritious of choices, and making this a regular habit could potentially set you (or your child) up for blood sugar issues and mid-morning energy slumps.
So, what are the more appropriate and healthier recommendations?
What if we approach this meal differently altogether and ask ourselves the question, "can breakfast be comprised of foods that we would normally enjoy for lunch or dinner?"
As a nutritionist, I have this conversation with clients often. And the look on their faces the first time I suggest doing such a thing is always an amusing one. "You're saying that I am allowed to eat chicken for breakfast?" or "Soup is okay to eat in the morning?" ...as if there are concrete rules and breakfast regulators out there patrolling the homes of America!
During my observations of other countries and travels around the world, I've witnessed that cultures outside of the United States tend to eat foods that we, as Americans, may not be acquainted to consuming first thing in the morning.
For example, foods like soup (pho in Vietnam or miso soup in Japan) and fish (various parts of Asia and Scandinavia) are commonplace globally. Not only do other cultures embrace savory meals, or ones containing meats or seafood in the morning, but additionally, these meals may also contain vegetables. While in Greece recently, plenty of vegetables were offered at my hotel's breakfast spread: roasted and grilled vegetables and Greek salad.
From a nutrition standpoint, enjoying what many would call lunch or dinner foods for the first meal of the day may be advantageous. Protein containing meals are more likely to keep you satiated and full, providing adequate blood-sugar stabilizing nourishment -- staving off sugar crashes while maintaining more sustained energy. Often marketers will cleverly sell us on certain packaged "breakfast foods" and many times they aren't the wisest choices, generally appearing and tasting dessert-like rather than nourishing and complete with vital nutrients that'll provide fuel and sustenance.
Leftovers from dinner can be quite healthy and balanced, and much more nutrient-dense than many usual breakfast choices. For many, including a vegetable or two in the morning may seem like a stretch the first few times it's given a try, but as with any habit, it will take some time to adapt and welcome this new morning eating ritual.
Soups, stews, and casseroles are also great ways to start incorporating more protein and vegetables into a morning meal. For those busy and in a rush, a slow cooker saves time yet provides a comforting, wholesome meal.
Why not enjoy a warming bowl of curry before you run out the door?
Swap out the cereal for a hearty bowl of lentil soup.
Or for more depth of flavor and protein:
Chili is an easy way to segue into eating non-traditional breakfast foods:
Challenge your current approach to starting your day and the meal that feeds you. Rethink what your breakfast consists of and ask yourself if it's truly contributing to a healthy start to your day, or is it eaten simply because it is has been with you most of your life -- a habitual breakfast crutch. Allow yourself to have more fun in the kitchen in the morning and loosen up those boundaries between lunch and dinner -- all while giving you more nutritious alternatives from which to choose.