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Power Up Your Day with a Healthy Breakfast

Girl eating waffle  

So you shop for lean meat cuts, you drink fat-free milk and you've learned to love vegetables (well, maybe with the exception of Brussels sprouts).

Congratulations on the positive nutrition steps you're taking! But if you skip breakfast, you're missing out on one of the most beneficial things you can do for your health.

People who eat breakfast live longer, suggests research, and a healthy morning meal revs up your body for the tasks ahead, aids in your body's metabolism and supplies nutrients you'll need during the day, say health experts.

By eating more of your calories in the morning and tapering off during the day--the opposite of what you may be doing--you can even get a better night's sleep, according to Dr. Jennifer Willis, who practices family medicine at the Banner Health Center in Verrado, AZ. If you skip eating during the day for the sake of a large dinner, your body has to work hard to digest food later in the evening, interrupting your sleep, she says.

Eating early
Even if you don’t feel hungry in the morning, though, don't overlook the need for an a.m. meal, say health experts.
"When you get eight hours of sleep, you need fuel in the morning, like a car," says Dr. Willis.
Go without that fuel, and you start to sputter. You not only feel sluggish, but you may be slowing down your metabolism as well.

Pulling it together
“A well-balanced breakfast doesn't have to be complicated,” says Dr. Willis. “It should have a whole grain (cereal or bread) or fruit and healthy fats such as from nuts or almond butter or a lean protein such as egg whites.

What else is for breakfast?

If you just can't face a bowl of cereal in the morning, don't worry. You don't have to eat typical breakfast foods as your first meal of the day, says Dr. Willis

"Try switching it up with a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread or a low-fat yogurt and piece of fruit,” Dr. Willis says.

Breakfast on the Run

Ideally, you'd eat breakfast at home in relative calm. But if you don't have time to sit down for your morning meal, pack wholesome items for your commute or desk at work.

"Grab some [raw or plain roasted] almonds, a good source of protein and good fat. Add whole-grain toast and an apple, which are also a good source of fiber," says Willis.

Make a breakfast sandwich of whole-wheat toast or bread, spread with peanut butter or almond or cashew butter. Avoid brands with sugar or hydrogenated fat.

You can also pack a mix of your favorite high-fiber breakfast cereal and some almonds or walnuts for nibbling on the bus or commuter train.

Although fruit smoothies are popular, you'll feel fuller if you eat solid food instead of drinking your breakfast.

If you want a smoothie, make one by coarsely puréeing the fruit.

To make an appointment with Dr. Willis call (623) 463-5000 or find other Banner Health physicians.

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