Breakfast: Why The Morning Meal Is So Important

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” Really… no kidding. Then why is it that for so many of us breakfast is perhaps the least respected? As our daily life stresses mount with work projects, getting the kids to school, and trying to squeeze in that last minute of sleep the most important meal quickly becomes a questionable meal at best. Yet we still expect the same success out of our days and thedays of our children. So why is this age old adage so accurate and what should we be feeding ourselves and our kids so that we all can get the most out of our day? I hope to answer these questions for you and perhaps inspire you to take breakfast perhaps just a little more seriously.

To understand the importance of breakfast you must first understand that our brains need a steady supply of blood sugar to work optimally. As we fast, such as when we sleep, our brains require a tremendous amount of sugar to keep us going. Since we are not eating in our sleep (hopefully!) we produce the hormone cortisol to keep our blood sugar stable. Cortisol allows us to liberate the stored sugars which we have put away from our daytime eating and use them when we aren’t getting new food. When our cortisol levels are low so is our blood sugar. And when our blood sugar is low so is our energy, and brain power! Just ask any teacher which children she thinks ate a good breakfast that morning. It is usually apparent. Many problems in the classroom (and work place?) can be traced back to the quality of the morning meal. The rub is that if we continue to disregard a stable blood sugar our cortisol levels will decline making the whole business of being awake a real mess! So how can we help to ensure that we start our day off on the right foot?

In the morning our stored sugars are at their lowest and need to be restocked. Certain foods do this better than others. The easy things to reach for are the simple carbs. They are usually quick, easy, and yummy! They can be found in most breakfast cereals, bagels, pancakes and heaven forbid doughnuts! These types of things are BAD for your day. Carbs like this create an immediate spike in the blood sugar which rapidly triggers a spike in the hormone insulin. Insulin then crashes your blood sugar down to very low levels leaving you in a low blood sugar state all over again. Often times this leaves you lower than before the meal. I’m sure you have witnessed a sugar crash. Halloween is coming guys! This kind of thing leaves your brain short on fuel and can have a tiring or foggy headed result. Not at all good for schoolwork or breadwinning!

If on the other hand you serve some ham and eggs with a side of whole grain toast you are allowing for a slow and steady raise in blood sugar with a much longer duration. This gives the brain plenty of blood sugar to work efficiently throughout longer periods of the day. Productivity and attention span go up dramatically. And there have been studies on kids who have eaten protein for breakfast vs. simple carbs having higher test scores. Long term this can lead to better schools and better opportunity for your children. And think of performance in the work place. Will promotions go to the guy who is on top of his game or the guy playing spider solitaire all day? Remember promotions mean more security for your family so this little concept is very important.

The bottom line here is that what we eat can have a dramatic affect on how we behave throughout the day. Take my advice and forget the simple carbs for breakfast. Incorporate higher protein and fiber containing foods first thing and you will be creating favorable conditions for optimum performance. Leave some sweet stuff in the mix for treats and rewards, but not as a mainstay for your morning.

Good luck, good health and happy eating!