Carol (Missy) Cohen MPH, CHHC

Breakfast – the Most Important Meal of the Day!

If you eat a healthy breakfast complete with protein and healthy fats, then you will set yourself up for a great day with lots of energy and the ability to focus and stay on task.

If you choose to stop at the local coffee shop and eat a high carbohydrate breakfast, well… you will either be starving by 10 a.m. with lunch still two hours away or asleep at your desk.

Why does what we eat in the morning matter?

Because if you choose that coffee and muffin, donut or other breakfast food made with flour, you are sending a message to your body that there is a load of sugars entering your body. Your body responds by sending out a  large amount of insulin. Insulin’s primary job is to escort sugar into our cells. When the body sees a surge of sugar it needs to protect the body and it releases too much insulin in response. When that happens, the insulin is too efficient at escorting the sugar into the cells and you end up with the sugar in your blood getting too low because, like everything else, there is a happy balance. The low blood sugar triggers your body to look for more food because low blood sugar, like high blood sugar, is dangerous and your body is smart and wants to keep functioning. Therefore, your brain tells you that you are hungry when, in actuality, your body is responding to a sugar “crash” and trying to keep you alive.

The above scene is describing what happens if your body is healthy.

Unfortunately, because many of us consume a muffin or a donut for breakfast, or just coffee, our bodies may not be using insulin efficiently. When we ask our cells, day in and day out, to take on more and more sugar, eventually our cells cause the receptors on their surface to not accept any more insulin molecules. Without insulin on the cell membrane, sugar cannot cross into the cell. The result is high blood sugar. High blood sugar is also dangerous and our body responds by storing the extra glucose in our FAT cells as triglycerides. The result – we get fat, our triglycerides rise and we become in danger of becoming diabetic, getting cardiovascular disease as well as a whole host of other diseases that are related to high blood sugar.

The answer?

Eat a breakfast that contain complex carbohydrates such as those found in fruits and vegetables and combine them with protein and fat sources. Some good choices are eggs over a bed of greens (my favorite is arugula because I like its peppery flavor) with some organic sausages. My personal go-to breakfast is a smoothie bowl. (See a recipe for my new favorite, Mint Chip Smoothie Bowl.)  The ingredients are similar to a smoothie but less liquid is used and it is more the consistency of a pudding which is then topped with healthy options such as nuts and seeds or coconut flakes.

Share your healthy breakfast ideas with others by posting them here!

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