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Breakfast- a healthy habit!

December 23, 2007 11:14 a.m. PT

Natural Medicine: Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day


The No. 1 trick sumo wrestlers employ to gain weight is skipping breakfast. It slows metabolism because our bodies mistakenly think we are starving. We operate on a lower level both physically and mentally and, therefore, we require less food, shuttling "extra" calories into fat stores.

v A balanced breakfast includes protein, carbohydrates and healthy fat. Plenty of water upon waking is also key.

As we grab our breakfast on the go, we may overlook balance in favor of quick energy. A plain bagel increases our blood sugar after all night without food and provides us with a quick blast of energy. But it then leaves us lacking energy later in the afternoon and may even result in snack food cravings at night. Adding a good source of protein, such as eggs, fish, meat, poultry, dairy products or beans, to breakfast may end those afternoon doldrums. It also may eliminate the need for the post-lunch caffeine pick-me-up.

Stumped on protein ideas for breakfast? We can borrow a few from other cultures: Scandinavians eat cold salmon and herring, Japanese have fish and miso soup, and other cultures have chapatti with mushy peas, a member of the protein-rich legume family.

If you have lived most of your life avoiding breakfast, it may feel strange to start. However, like anything, a little practice will allow your stomach to adapt. Besides, you also may have the added benefits of extra energy all day and a trimmer waistline.

-- Debra Boutin, MS, RD, dietetic internship director and assistant professor, and Julie Starkel, MS, CN, dietetic intern, Bastyr University


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