Friday, March 9, 2018

Eat your breakfast, it’s National Nutrition Month

Welcome to March and welcome to National Nutrition Month sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Their theme this year is “Go Further with Food”.  The theme reminds us to “eat healthfully for ongoing energy and plan meals and snacks in advance..”   When I told my husband that March was National Nutrition Month, he asked, “and how do I celebrate National Nutrition Month, eat an extra carrot?”  Well, planning healthy snacks is a good nutritional practice – so yes, you can eat the extra carrot.
To have more energy during the day, dietitians recommend you start your day off with a good breakfast.  There are foods that one should skip at breakfast and there are foods we should add for better health.

Foods to Skip at Breakfast –
  • Skip the high calorie Danish, donut, chocolate croissant - yes, they make look tasty in that glass window but eat them and you’ll get that sugar high and then the sugar low.  These are loaded with added sugar, the simple carbs, and these are the carbs to cut back on. Why?  Our bodies digest simple carbs like sugar and refined carbs like white flour, rapidly.  So, our blood sugar surges and then comes crashing down.
  • Beverages – skip the bottled teas with all the added sugar. The sugary coffee with sugary syrups topped with whipping cream.  One Snapple Lemon Tea is a sugar bomb with 36 grams of added sugar or 144 calories from added sugar.
  • Protein – skip the sausage and bacon – Who doesn’t like bacon and eggs or eggs and sausage?  Enjoy this occasionally or limit to once a week but not an everyday item.  These processed meats are high in saturated fat which can increase the bad, LDL-cholesterol and thus increase your risk of heart disease. Harvard researchers  found that people eating processed meats like deli meats or a hot dog every day increased one’s risk of heart disease by a whopping 42%.  But limiting these processed meats to a serving or less a week had a small risk. But I still like the Egg McMuffin.  A real treat and the Canadian bacon is pretty lean.  
  • Cereals – skip the highly sugared cereals.   Look at the ingredients and see if sugar is the first ingredient. Some cereals are more sugar than cereal.  Cereals are a great choice for breakfast, if they are lower in sugar.  Eat This, Not That! Ranks some of the worst breakfast cereals. See if your cereal is on the list.

Foods to Add to Your Breakfast – to have a good, healthy breakfast, focus on a good carb that provides whole grain and fiber, a protein, and a fruit.  Jen Bruning, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics notes when we eat something in the first hour or two after we get up.  Otherwise our bodies which have been fasting all night, still think it should remain in fasting mode.  She recommends starting our day with a healthy breakfast not only gives you energy, but also improves your mood, your ability to concentrate and better blood sugar control. 
  • Add the Complex Carbs – these are whole grain carbs providing lots of nutrition and fiber.  Whole grain carbs like Cheerios, oatmeal, won’t spike your blood sugar as they are digested more slowly.  Or, enjoy a whole grain English Muffin topped with some jam. 
  •  Beverages -  if you enjoy coffee, great.  Avoid adding the sugary syrups and cream.  If you want “cream” in your coffee, add some milk. You’ll be adding calcium and vitamin D to your day.  Tea – skip the bottled tea with all that added sugar and brew your own.  Tea is loaded with antioxidants and can lower your risk of a heart attack.  I drink 100% juice at breakfast every day.  Skip the fake juice drinks and be sure you are choosing a real juice.  Look at the ingredients to make sure it is only juice and sugar and food coloring haven’t been added.
Enjoy some tea for good health
  •  Protein -  Easy to add some protein to your breakfast.  Add some real milk to your cereal.  Enjoy a yogurt.  My husband always enjoys a yogurt at breakfast.  Not only are milk and yogurt full of protein, the protein quality of real milk and yogurt is very high.
  •  Cereal- what a great way to add a serving of whole grains to your day.  Students in the nutrition classes I teach are keeping a food journal of all the foods they eat.  A few students eat Frosted Flakes, or Kellogg’s Corn Pops.  I noted if they made just one change, switching to a General Mills cereal such as Cheerios or choosing oatmeal for breakfast, would be a huge change in their diet. Why?  By just switching to a healthier cereal, they would add a serving of whole grains, more fiber, and more nutrients to their day.  Find a whole grain cereal you like, add some real milk to it and you’ve added a whole lot of nutrition to your day.  Choose a cereal with fiber – most whole grain cereals will also provide fiber to your day.  Most Americans have diets low in fiber.  Cheerios has 3 grams of fiber per serving.  Fiber helps fill you up and lowers your risk of cancer and diabetes.

 Healthy eating isn’t about giving up carbs, giving up gluten, going on endless diets.  Healthy eating is more about adding healthy foods to your day.  Skip the simple carbs, and add the complex carbs like whole grains.  Make some simple switches.  Switch a high sugar cereal for a whole grain cereal.  Have an English muffin instead of the donut.  Add breakfast to your day.  And, celebrate National Nutrition Month with the extra carrot.

Sources:  theme, Skip, Harvard researchers, Eat This, Not That!,  spokesperson              Image source: Nutrition,  tea, breakfast

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