How to Stop Skipping Breakfast

Holli Lapes, RD, LD/N

You know how the old saying goes: breakfast is the most important meal of the day! 1-3

This holds true today and is more important than you may think. Breakfast is an especially important meal if you have diabetes or are looking to lose weight.

You may be skipping breakfast for many reasons. Below are some common ones and ways to get around them.

No Time to Make Breakfast or Prepare Lunch

Make some hardboiled eggs the night before or grab a Greek yogurt from the fridge on your way out the door. Give meal prep a try! Set aside a couple hours on one day of the week to chop and prepare individual serving sizes of fruit and vegetables, for snacking and for later use in cooking meals.

We have good intentions at the grocery store, but when the time comes — we don’t have the time or energy to cook the foods we bought and then end up throwing out spoiled produce. Many poor dietary choices are made when blood sugar drops; all we want to do is reach for something convenient to satisfy our hunger.

You Don’t Even Like Breakfast Foods!

Then don’t eat breakfast foods! Have a couple slices of low sodium & nitrate free deli turkey instead. In many cultures, breakfast consists of fish and other “non-traditional” foods as compared to what Americans typically eat. Maybe this is a good thing after all, since traditional American breakfast is usually jam packed with empty calories from refined carbohydrates such as pancakes and sugary cereals.

However, if there’s any meal that one should have [more] carbohydrates, it is probably breakfast. The central nervous system, including the brain, relies on carbohydrates as a primary source of energy.4 So, choosing whole grains, fruits and starchy vegetables in the morning with your protein and healthy fat is a great way to fuel up for the day ahead.

You’re Just Not Hungry in the Morning

If you’re not hungry in the morning, this is a red flag that you are caught up in an unhealthy cycle. You skip breakfast (and maybe even lunch) and then you end up overeating at dinner. Or, maybe all your meals have shifted to later in the day due to your skipping breakfast. Perhaps you stay up late at night and wake up later. In the morning, you wake up and you’re not hungry — the cycle starts over again.

A likely explanation as to why you are not hungry in the morning is that you are overeating at dinnertime and/or eating later in the evening. It will take time to change this pattern, as habits can be difficult to break. The first step in the pathway to change is realizing you are in a pattern like this. For better blood sugar control, try a simple shake consisting of whey protein mixed with water or milk of your preference within an hour of waking up if you don’t feel like having solid food yet.5,6

You’re Too Stressed to Eat

Some people overeat when they are stressed while others cannot eat at all. If this is the case, the primary focus needs to be stress management.

In the meanwhile, try sipping on some nutrient dense shakes or smoothies to ensure you are at least receiving some nourishment. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up for a compromised immune system, not to mention all the long-term effects of chronic stress such as elevations in cortisol.

Why Does All This matter?

For weight loss: when you skip meals, the body thinks it is starving and goes into survival mode.7 This will make it even more difficult to lose weight.

Why this is important for diabetics: To compensate for no carbs entering the system, the body will release sugar into the bloodstream, causing a spike. Even if you are not diabetic, you don’t want this elevation in blood sugar because it can cause organ damage over time and even lead to the development of diabetes.

References:

  1.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16376851[AR1]
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26284449
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1550038
  4.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3900881/
  5. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/862094?src=trendmd_pilot&trendmd-shared=1
  6. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2015/07/01/dc15-0761.abstract
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22414/

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