At birth, we take our first breath, soon followed by our first food - mother’s milk. When we’re a bit older, many people begin their day with breakfast. Breakfast choices, like all food choices, are strongly shaped by our surrounding culture. In Japan, breakfast might include fish, tofu, or egg with white rice or wheat noodles, possibly with a side of pickled vegetables. In France you might savor a buttery croissant, and in East India you might begin your day with curried potatoes. In northern United States many people enjoy breakfast options like oats, toast, potatoes, pancakes, cereal, and granola, possibly with eggs, peanut butter, or yogurt. Another popular and convenient option is to swing by a Starbucks and grab a latte, or pop by McDonalds for oatmeal.
With so many breakfast options available, you’d think eating breakfast would be easy. But for many people the thought of eating breakfast, doesn’t sit well. There are many reasons for this, but one of the main ones is just not taking time. Because we are creatures of habit, skipping breakfast can become the norm. We’ve all heard how breakfast can increases your metabolism and helps you think more clearly in the morning. It can also help you eat less food at night because you’ll be less famished. An additional, but less discussed reason is to introduce more nutrients into your body. The food we eat transfers its stored energy and nutrients into our bodies, becoming part of our eyes, heart, and the skin on the soles of our feet. As science continues to take a closer look at the phrase ‘you are what you eat’, adding a wide variety of foods and therefore nutrients into day is wise.
So how might you add a little variety to your breakfast plate or dashboard napkin? If you enjoy oatmeal for breakfast, you can boost your nutrient intake by adding a small handful of walnuts, almonds or pistachios - all of which contain good fats and minerals like magnesium. In the winter I like to add a few blueberries by microwaving a small dish of frozen berries. The deep-blue hue of the berries has immune-boosting properties. And it’s not just blueberries; it could be any color berry. Two other high-nutrient foods I use to jazz up my oatmeal are ground flax and chia seeds. Chia seeds are size of a grain of sand, yet pack a nutritional punch of fiber and good fats. You might remember chia seeds from the “chia pets”. If you don’t like the texture and/or time involved in making oatmeal (I pre-make mine a day or two ahead to save time), how about a slice of whole wheat toast with almond butter, a few slices of banana, or berries tossed on, and a light drizzle of honey. If you can find a local honey or jam it will contain the flavor and health properties of nearby flowers and plants.
With the hubbub about carbs and America’s waistline, you might be wondering about including oats, bread, berries, honey, and or jam as part of your food variety. Keep in mind that ALL foods, including water, require moderation and balance - a couple of terms I will frequently reference. The more you cut out entire food groups, the more you limit the intake the variety of nutrients those foods have to offer. As I’ll discuss in other posts, there’s nutritional power and synergy in eating a variety of foods which help support and build your body; from the muscles of your heart to the soles of your feet.