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Is breakfast really the most important meal?

Making time for a healthy breakfast sets the stage for healthy eating throughout the day. For most people, breakfast time comes at least 8 hours after their previous meal. So, in essense, while sleeping you have also been "fasting". In fact, the word itself, when broken down, means to "break a fast." When you wake up in the morning your blood sugar may be low, and you may feel hungry.

Eating a breakfast that contains a good source of protein and complex carbohydrates will allow your blood sugar to rise at a steady pace throughout the morning and provide your cells with the energy they need to carry out your morning activities.

Oatmeal topped with fruit and soymilk, and a generous helping of nuts and seeds is one good way to start the day.

Or, try a poached egg over whole grain toast.

For a super quick "meal on the run", spread some almond butter (available in health food stores) on a piece of whole grain toast and eat a piece of fruit along with it.

Try not to eat foods that are high in refined carbohydrates (for example bagels and muffins made from white flour, or white flour-based pastries) first thing in the morning. These foods can cause a rapid spike in your blood sugar, and may give you a short burst of energy, but will cause you to "crash" a few hours later.

What happens if you skip breakfast? If you don't give your body some fuel first thing in the morning, your blood sugar will continue to drop. In addition, you will begin using your nutrient stores to hold you over until your next meal. Over the next few hours, you may begin to feel sleepy or fatigued. And, by the time lunch rolls around you will probably be so hungry that you will eat anything in sight! At this point, it will be more difficult to select healthy foods, as you will be mostly interested in grabbing something quick to satisfy your body's need for fuel as soon as possible.

Many people say that they are not hungry first thing in the morning, which makes it difficult to eat breakfast. This is especially true for people who drink coffee or smoke cigarettes, as caffeine and nicotine suppress the appetite. If you are typically not hungry in the morning, try cutting back on the amount of coffee you drink and the number of cigarettes you smoke, and see if that makes a difference. For others who don't have much of an appetite in the morning, begin the habit of eating breakfast by starting with something very small, such as a half a piece of whole grain toast with nut butter or a small bowl of whole grain cereal (with no added sugars!) with milk. As your body gets used to digesting food in the morning, you might notice a bigger appetite in the morning.

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