blog May 08, 2015

I can still hear my mother saying "...breakfast is the most important meal of the day." and she was absolutely right. Growing up I remember always having breakfast almost immediately after waking up.  Mom would have the oatmeal ready every morning, most of the time before my sister and I were even up.  On the odd occasion, my sister and I were allowed to choose a boxed cereal as a "treat" and although at the time we hated the small boxes they came in, today I'm thankful for that forced portion control.

In my practice, almost all of the people who come to see me for weight loss are not breakfast eaters.  In fact, most people struggling with their weight eat only two or three meals per day and therein lies the bulk of their struggle. They are under the assumption that if they have a few extra pounds to lose, they should keep restricting and cutting calories in order to get results.

Now don't get me wrong, in the beginning, people do lose weight when they cut calories, restrict meals or eliminate foods from their daily meal plans.  The problem with this M.O. is that it's not healthy or sustainable.  Cutting, restricting, eliminating, etc., only serves to slow down metabolism.  

By beginning the day without breakfast, the body's blood sugar, which is already low after a night of "starvation" plummets.  The problem is that our brain still needs to function so when it doesn't get the nourishment from food, it will take it from the muscle.  When a meal is finally eaten, often the portion size is much too large, causing the blood sugar to then spike and the excess to be stored as fat.  After such a big meal, most people have the mindset that "... this should hold me until tonight at dinner."  Again, there is a long period without food, followed by supersized portions at dinner and the cycle of burning muscle and storing fat continues. 

One of the first things I recommend to new clients is that they simply begin with breakfast.  Even if they can only eat one or two bites, we start with that and work up to a full meal. For many people, just getting into the habit of eating first thing in the morning can be quite challenging and I always advise for those especially difficult cases to just eat something, anything to start off with and we will work on the balance later.  Of course, ideally you would want to make sure you have a good quality protein, fat and a carb each time you sit down to a meal, but I have found that just getting people starting and allowing them to be successful in the small things gives them confidence to continue making healthier changes. 

So, if you're not a breakfast person, why not try switching that lunch meeting to a breakfast meeting or try a good quality shake to get yourself started?  After all, fuelling up first thing in the morning sets the tone both for your body, in helping to keep blood sugar stabilized, as well as for your brain in keeping your mind sharp. 

Ok, why don't you just admit it, your mom was right all along. Now, if you promise to eat breakfast, I won't tell her you said so.

Here's to your health,

Tania Gustafson, Nutritionist & Fitness Coach (IBNFC)

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