Breakfast can be made up of any foods that are part of a healthy diet

Breakfast Myth: Breakfast Foods Are Too Fattening

This blog was written as a guest post for the Bell Institute for Health and Nutrition. You can read the original post here.

It’s easy to understand how some people might believe that certain foods are more “fattening” than others. Classifying foods based on whether they can make you gain weight or not is a far simpler notion to grasp than the concept of energy balance (where calories in should equal calories out)!

So whenever the topic of “fattening foods” comes up, I try to clarify the issue with this brief lesson in anatomy: The stomach does not have eyes.

That’s my way of explaining that the body has no idea what we have eaten. It does not know (or judge!) whether we have had a chocolate éclair for breakfast or a chewy granola bar. It just sorts out the nutrients and calories that were in the food and either uses them, stores them or eliminates them, as needed.

I then explain that since the body continually “sorts” what we are eating all day long, no one food can really be more “fattening” than any other. It’s the sum of all the calories we have consumed by the end of the day that determine whether or not we have exceeded our energy needs, which could make us gain weight over time.

Once that concept sinks in, it’s possible to illustrate how all foods can actually be included in a well-balanced diet complemented by regular physical activity. It also provides an ideal time to introduce the topic of nutrient density – another difficult one to grasp.

My approach is to stress the fact that all of the calories in the foods we eat are exactly the same, but the nutrients are not. And since we need more than 50 distinct nutrients to maintain health and prevent disease, we must choose our foods so they deliver the best nutritional package for the calories they provide.

From there it’s a smooth transition to a discussion of food groups to understand how different types of foods fit together to make an overall healthy eating plan, such as in MyPlate. Any lingering thoughts about “fattening” breakfast foods are then easily replaced by the more important question, ”What are the best breakfast choices for me?”

Consider these important facts about ready-to-eat cereal with fat free milk and fruit when you answer. One serving provides:

  • Less than 200 calories per serving on average
  • Key nutrients many of which are lacking in American diets – calcium, potassium, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, folate and fiber
  • Many whole grain options that help meet the goal of making half our grain choices whole grain
  • More nutrients with the fewest calories compared to most other popular breakfast choices
Any food can be eaten for breakfast

Breakfast Myth: Skipping Breakfast Because You Don’t Like Breakfast Foods

This blog was written as a guest post for the Bell Institute for Nutrition and Heath. You can read the original post here.

One of the things I love most about being a registered dietitian is all of the fascinating things I learn about food from my clients and consumers. Whether it’s the personal preference of one person I met to put salt on watermelon or the cultural tradition of the entire nation to eat pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, it is people who give meaning to food. The more insight we have into these acquired and ascribed meanings, the better we will be as nutrition educators.

For example, what comes into your mind when you think of “breakfast foods?” You may imagine the foods you enjoyed eating for breakfast when you were growing up or the ones you now prepare for your own family. Simple, everyday fare may come to mind, such as cereal and milk, or a special family recipe for Stuffed French Toast. Either way, they are all foods that symbolize breakfast for you.

The same is true for each of us. So when we talk about the importance of eating breakfast every day, we must remember that will mean different things to different people. And for some, it may mean a very limited menu of foods they no longer enjoy or have time to prepare.

When people tell me they don’t eat breakfast because they don’t like breakfast foods, I ask them what particular foods they are referring to. No matter what is on their list, I always reassure them they don’t ever have to eat those foods for breakfast or any other time of day if they don’t want to. This helps put them at ease and keep them receptive to whatever I might say next.

That is when I tell them that there are no “official” breakfast foods. What each of us eats in the morning is a matter of taste, time and tradition. In northern Nigeria a typical breakfast consists of fried cakes made from ground beans. A traditional weekend breakfast in Japan may consist of miso soup and steamed white rice topped with a beaten raw egg then wrapped in seaweed and eaten with pickles. The message we want to get across is that there are many ways to make a great breakfast.

By dismantling the idea that only certain foods can be eaten – or must be eaten – at breakfast, we can help consumers who may be skipping this important meal because they don’t like the choices. What they will soon discover is the possibilities are limitless!

Now, tell us – what are some of the breakfast challenges you’ve encountered in your practice?

 

Eating regualr meals makes it easier to control food chocies

Breakfast Myth: Skipping Breakfast to Save Calories

This blog was written for the Bell Institute for Health and Nutrition. You can read the original post here.

After writing my last post about Making Time for Breakfast I realized it covered just one of several reasons given by clients for not eating in the morning. Since there are so many others I thought it would be useful to put together a short series on the Top Myths for Not Eating Breakfast.

Many people believe that if they do not eat breakfast they will consume fewer calories by the end of the day and lose weight. This is one of those ideas that looks good on paper, but might not work out as planned.
Besides all of the nutritional benefits of eating breakfast, starting the day with a meal may help improve weight management. In fact, it is one of the most common behaviors shared by the 10,000+ people who make up the National Weight Control Registry.
In reality, this belief in “calorie saving” can sabotage the unknowing dieter and can even lead to weight gain and frustration. Here are the proof points needed to help you dispel the myth that skipping breakfast= weight loss.
BELIEF
I will eat less by the end of the day.
REALITY
A recent study suggests that those who skip breakfast may end up eating more when they finally eat, and could make less healthy, more high-caloric choices.
BELIEF
Not eating for 15 hours or more will make me lose weight faster.
REALITY
Your metabolism is likely regulated by the amount of fuel supplied to it throughout the day. Choosing not to refuel after an overnight fast, may slow down your metabolic rate and affect weight loss.
BELIEF
I like to have plenty of calories left at the end of the day so I can eat all I want.
REALITY
Hunger is a signal from your body that lets you know you need to eat. You also get a signal that tells you when you’ve had enough so you can stop when you are satisfied. If you learn to respond to these two internal cues, you will be less likely to eat for other “external” reasons and may have an easier time managing your weight.
Eating breakfast doesn't take much time if you plan for it

Making Time for Breakfast

This blog was written for the Bell Institute for Heath and Nutrition. You can read the original post here.

The most common reason I hear from my clients for not eating breakfast is that they aren’t hungry in the morning. Upon further questioning, I usually find this applies on mornings when they have to be up early and out the door for school or work and eating breakfast on weekends and other days off is no problem.
When people say they aren’t hungry in the morning, what they are often feeling is anxiety about being late. Anyone rushing frantically to catch a bus or punch a time clock cannot fathom eating – let alone sitting down to a simple meal.
A solution to this issue is better planning. Here are some “time-tested” steps you can share that help make breakfast a regular part the day. Feel free to use these handy abbreviations to get the message across!
  • GTB = Go To Bed. The best way to avoid the morning rush is to wake up earlier, but that requires going to bed earlier to ensure enough sleep. Turn off the phone, TV, computer and lights at least 15 minutes sooner than usual to gradually work towards an earlier bedtime.
  • WUH = Wake Up Hungry. If you stop eating 10-12 hours before breakfast, you’ll wake up looking forward to that next meal. Make a point to brush and floss two hours before bedtime to prevent late-night eating and you’ll be sure to wake up with an appetite.
  • RTG = Ready To Go. When you organize everything you’ll need to take with you in the morning the night before, you won’t have a knot in your stomach trying to find things at the last minute. This includes the clothes you’ll wear, school assignments, sports equipment, special reports, and anything needed for those after-work errands.
  • PYM = Plan Your Meal. Check to see what’s available for breakfast and decide what you’re going to eat before you go to bed to avoid having to make a decision in the morning. If there’s some leftover pizza, wrap a slice in foil so it’s ready to slip into the toaster oven. Or, set the table with a bowl, spoon, juice glass and your favorite cereal so all you have to do is pour and eat to save precious time.
  • MIP = Make It Portable. Sometimes the best plan is to have something ready to take with you. Combining cereal, dried fruit and nuts in a plastic bag is easy to eat when in transit. Or, bring a granola bar, piece of fruit and a yogurt to eat when you arrive. Whatever travels well will do!
There are many ways to substitute whole grains for refined grains

15 Stealth Health Tips With Whole Grains

This blog was written as a guest post for the Bell Institute for Nutrition and health. You can read the original post here.

The message to eat more whole grains is now a familiar piece of nutrition advice to most Americans. It has been reinforced in each update of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans since the year 2000 and is prominently featured in the new MyPlate food plan. The food industry has also done its part by offering a wide assortment of whole grains choices to cover everything from cereals to snacks and side dishes.

The only challenge left is helping consumers incorporate more of these whole grain foods into their everyday meals.

The top 3 reasons I have heard from my clients for not eating enough whole grains are:

  • They’re not always available when eating out
  • I don’t always have a grain food with my meals
  • I don’t like the taste and texture of whole grains foods

While nothing could be easier than eating a serving of whole grain cereal for breakfast, a sandwich made on whole wheat bread for lunch and a stir fry over brown rice for dinner to get 4-5 servings of whole grains in one day, that menu doesn’t work every day of the week.

For those situations, some stealth solutions are needed. That means making simple substitutions in how food is prepared at home to make whole grains available at every meal and snack to increase their consumption throughout the week. What makes them stealth solutions is that they look and taste as good as the foods they’re replacing and can save money, too!

15 Stealth Solutions to Boost Whole Grain Intake

  1. Cube whole wheat or rye bread, brush with olive oil, season, and bake for crunchy croutons
  2. Crumble stale cornbread to make a country-style poultry stuffing
  3. Save whole wheat bread crusts and ends in the freezer, then use to make bread crumbs
  4. Slice day-old whole wheat baguettes, spray with olive oil, and bake for use with hummus and other spreads
  5. Prepare individualized pizzas using whole wheat pitas as the crust
  6. Cut corn tortillas into 6 pieces and crisp in a hot oven to enjoy with salsa
  7. Replace bread crumbs with rolled oats in meatloaf and meatballs
  8. Crush leftover whole grain cereal flakes and nuggets to stir into muffin batters instead of some flour or nuts
  9. Combine whole grain pretzel and cracker crumbs to use as a coating for fish and poultry
  10. Use white whole wheat bread to make French toast, and make extra to freeze
  11. Stretch tuna and chicken salad by adding some chilled brown rice
  12. Create a mixed-grain pilaf using brown rice, barley, and wild rice
  13. Use whole wheat couscous in place of noodles in soups
  14. Make risotto from barley instead of short-grained round rice for its creamy, chewy texture
  15. Mix cornmeal or oat flour into pancake batter for added flavor