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The importance of breakfast

Posted January 18th, 2012 by UHDS News

As college students, life is sometimes a little rushed, often un-predictable, and usually stressful. During times of uncertainty one thing is for sure, we need to eat. We need to nourish, refuel, and replenish our bodies and minds in order to tackle life as college students. When schedules get a little crazy eating is sometimes overlooked or pushed to the side. Remember when your parents would say, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day?” Well if you do, there is substantial research that provides evidence that this saying is accurate when it comes to health, weight maintenance, and cognitive function.
Upon awaking after a night of sleeping there is a physiological need to replenish the body’s energy or blood sugar stores. By consuming breakfast the body is able to replenish its diminished stores, as a result, providing it with energy. But when breakfast is skipped your body cannot replenish itself and may try to get energy elsewhere such as your muscles. As some of you know from experience which I can attest to as well, having a reduction in energy may lead to decreased ability to think and remember clearly and energy to engage in physical activity.
Researchers suggest that when breakfast is skipped there is a tendency to overeat later in the day or consume an unhealthy snack. Studies have gathered a correlation between breakfast skippers and their body mass index (BMI), an indicator of body fat, being higher than those who consume breakfast. In other words, if you are trying to maintain or loss weight skipping breakfast is not a healthy solution. By eating more frequent meals it can assist the body’s ability to utilize energy and lower BMI. No one enjoys that rollercoaster feeling of high and low energy spurts; keep your energy levels coasting by eating 3-5 small meals throughout the day.
There is a slight catch, not all breakfast foods are made equal, and the type of breakfast can have a difference on the overall quality of the diet. Choosing a carbohydrate dense, moderate-high fiber food such as a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal or cooked cereals (like oatmeal, cream of wheat, or grits) paired with fruit is a great way to keep you satiated and full longer. Fiber is a beneficial part of a healthy diet that may prevent the development of certain diseases and keep things moving smoothly. It is recommended that women get 28 grams and men get 35 grams of fiber a day. Look for cereals that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving and less than 5 grams of sugar per serving such as cheerios, raisin brain, and shredded wheat-originals. In addition to cold and cooked cereals some great breakfast foods include:

  • Low fat yogurt with fruit or granola (check the label and look for low fat, low sugar varieties)
  • String cheese and crackers
  • Pancake or waffle with peanut butter
  • Whole wheat bagel with fruit spread or nut/seed butters
  • Veggie omelet (the more veggies the better)
  • English muffin with a poached egg
  • Made to order breakfast burritos at Arnold and McNary (choose ham + lots of veggies)

All these foods can be found at any of the campus dining centers. With the start of the new year make it a priority to eat breakfast. You are not only energizing yourself but you are creating a positive health behavior for life. Refresh, refuel, and BeWell.

By Natasha Luff, Dietetic Intern, OSU


Works Cited

1. Breaking the Fast; The Timing and The Contents of Breakfast Make it Perhaps the Most Important Meal of the Day. (2011). Harvard Health Letter. Retrieved from www.health.harvard.edu.
2. Cho, S., Dietrich, M., Brown, C., Clark, C., et al (2003). The Effect of Breakfast Type on Total Daily Energy Intake and Body Mass Index: Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey(NHANES III). J Am Coll Nutr (22.4) 296-302.
3. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th Edition, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 2010
4. Healthy breakfast: Quick, flexible options to grab at home. (2011). Nutrition and Healthy Eating. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic Online http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-nutrition/NU00197

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  17. Aden T. Says:

    Back in university I skipped breakfast all the time, and I could feel the effects it had on me fast. Once I started eating a good meal in the morning, it made my days a lot better. Thanks for the post!

  18. Jocelyn Killam Says:

    So true. Every time I rush out of the house without eating a healthy breakfast I find myself eating way too much of the wrong things for the rest of the day.

  19. kapitanluffy Says:

    is that you on the photo? Oh I just remembered, I skipped breakfast this morning.

  20. Riyan Putra Says:

    I agree. Breakfast is very important for your health long term. I always have breakfast every morning before the activity. It makes me feel more prepared if I have to think hard, work, traffic jams on the road, walking and doing nothing all day. Breakfast is not necessarily the main meals but enough with nutritious snacks.

  21. danau toba Says:

    My family and has a habit of healthy breakfast each morning. Even if waking up late and rush off to college, I had brought some breakfast to eat on the bus.

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  27. James Says:

    Hi Natasha – great information. Thanks for sharing. I actually didn’t know this. I will start eating healthy breakfast again.
    BR James

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