The facts are in, and mom was right. Eating a healthy breakfast is truly important to your overall health.

“Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day because it breaks a night of fasting, or going without food, and it replenishes your supply of energy and other essential nutrients to keep your energy
level up throughout the day,” said Dr. Betty Greer, a nutrition specialist with University of Tennessee Extension.

Further, the specialist says eating breakfast is helpful if you are trying to lose weight. “You will not lose weight any faster by going without breakfast. Eat something in the morning even if you are not hungry,” she said.

As listed in a UT Extension publication for the Tennessee Shapes Up program, people who eat breakfast have advantages over those who skip the meal. A healthy breakfast helps you:

• Stay healthier.
• Stabilize blood sugar and reduce your risk for diabetes.
• Reduce your risk for heart attacks.
• Reduce appetite the rest of the day.
• Reduce irritability and improve disposition.

A healthy breakfast also helps children learn better in school. Greer adds the people who skip breakfast tend to nibble and snack more than those who eat something in the morning.

There is one major caveat to the advice, however. Greer says you should avoid sweet pastries and doughnuts, which provide empty calories and set you up for a massive energy slump. “Instead, choose low-sugar, low-fat, high-fiber and high-protein foods, for example an egg on a whole-grain English muffin,” she said. However, breakfast can consist of non-traditional breakfast foods such as a peanut butter sandwich or leftover meat on bread for a sandwich. Read the label to choose bread with a higher amount of protein. Don’t overlook the traditional hot cereal. Some of the whole grain cereals take longer to cook and in today’s busy environment, that can be a problem. Try cooking a larger portion at night, store in refrigerator, then spoon the amount needed for a serving into a microwavable bowl. Stir in a little milk or water (the cereal with thicken as it cools), cover and heat. For more information about whole grain cereals visit http://tnshapesup.tennessee.edu/ewellness/Resources.aspx.

The nutrition expert adds that breakfast does not have to be an elaborate or sit-down ordeal, but it is important to eat breakfast. Combine common sense with good nutrition, and the whole family will be healthier and happier.

For more information about healthy and nutritious food choices, visit the UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences web site for the Tennessee Shapes Up program: http://tnshapesup.tennessee.edu/adult.htm.

UT Extension operates in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties as the off-campus division of the UT Institute of Agriculture. An educational outreach organization, funded by federal, state and local governments, UT Extension, in cooperation with Tennessee State University, brings research-based information about agriculture, family and consumer sciences, and youth and community development to the people of Tennessee where they live and work.

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