I always skip breakfast but eating it for a week straight changed my diet throughout the day

Marilyn La JeunesseBreakfast is the most important meal of the day, right?
  • Not being a big breakfast person, I tried to eat breakfast every day for a week.
  • Breakfasts should have protein, fibre, and healthy fats.
  • My breakfasts included eggs, oatmeal, and yogurt.

Eating breakfast every day for a week isn’t impressive, it’s something pretty much everyone else does every single day of their lives. But I have to say something a bit controversial and definitely not nutritionist-approved: I hate breakfast and consider it to be the worst meal of the day.

Since I was a kid I’ve abstained from the breakfast tradition, eating my first meal around lunchtime, but it’s not for a lack of want. I’ve tried forming a healthy breakfast-eating habit numerous times and failed, much to my mother’s chagrin. But, who’s to say I can’t try again?

Determined to keep a New Year’s resolution and live a healthier lifestyle in 2019, I’ve decided to give breakfast another shot, eating it every morning for a week

First, some ground rules: As someone who loves breakfast food and typically eats a veggie-filled omelet for dinner, I have to eat breakfast before 11 a.m. every day to consider this challenge a success.

And, to hold myself accountable, I will also elect to eat at least one food item every morning, as opposed to choosing a sugar-filled juice or smoothie. The goal is to eat breakfast, so darn it, I’ll do my best to hold myself accountable. It’s one week, it can’t be that hard. Right?

Before starting my week-long endeavour, I spoke with Leslie Rosenbruch, registered dietitian and nutrition manager of the Department of Endocrinology, Nutrition, and Weight Management at Boston Medical Center, about the importance of breakfast and any advice she might have for people looking to form healthier morning eating habits.

According to Rosenbruch, what you eat at breakfast can be an important factor in what we choose to eat for the rest of the day.

“Consuming a breakfast high in refined carbohydrates, such as a sugar-sweetened cereal, leaves us feeling hungry soon after consumption. It is best to consume a balanced meal to assist in managing appetite and hunger levels,” she said. Rosenbruch emphasises that a balanced breakfast consists of protein, fibre, and healthy fats in an equal amount. For example, a slice of whole grain bread, some ripe avocado slices, a handful of cherry tomatoes, and an egg would come together to create the perfect balanced breakfast. “Protein, fibre, and healthy fats will sustain energy levels and keep us feeling full for longer periods of time.”

For Rosenbruch, breakfast should be consumed within two hours of waking up and, for those who despise eating in the morning, the RDN suggests starting small, consuming a hard-boiled egg, fruit with peanut butter, Greek yogurt, or a protein shake to wake up your metabolism. The goal is to consume foods that provide “sustainable energy” that will ultimately help manage hunger levels and provide plenty of nutrition.

With Rosenbruch’s advice in mind, I began my breakfast journey.

Day 1: This wasn’t so bad

BreakfastMarilyn La JeunesseThis breakfast had protein and fibre.

Hesitant to bombard my stomach with heavy foods, I started my week-long breakfast challenge with a Daiya strawberry yogurt alternative topped with a sliced banana and a cup of freshly brewed Peet’s coffee. As with eating breakfast in the morning, I’m not keen on yogurt or yogurt-style foods but I made an exception for these coconut-filled creations.

This breakfast has almost everything Rosenbruch recommended, the yogurt alternative has 6 grams of protein (the same as your standard egg), while the banana satisfies the fibre category. All I’m missing is a healthy source of “good fat.”

I eat breakfast around ten in the morning and find that I’m not truly hungry for lunch until 1 p.m., although I wait until closer to 2 p.m. before digging into the second meal of the day.

Day 2: An egg-cellent protein-filled breakfast

BreakfastMarilyn La JeunesseThis breakfast sandwich wasn’t totally filling.

Having a bit of extra time in the morning, I decided to make breakfast for myself. Neglecting Rosenbruch’s balanced breakfast advice, I made myself an egg-and-cheddar-cheese sandwich on a lightly toasted English muffin. I added a few splashes of hot sauce and serve this protein-filled breakfast with fresh coffee. I almost immediately regreted the choices I’ve made.

With a healthy amount of carbs and protein, my breakfast was lacking fibre and “good fat.” Perhaps this was the reason I found myself snacking shortly after finishing breakfast. Note to self: Add some avocado on the sandwich if you’re going to indulge and maybe some strawberries on the side, for good measure.

Day 3: Meal prepping breakfast is a lazy person’s only choice

Marilyn La JeunesseThis portion of breakfast lasted for a long time.

Ahead of the breakfast challenge, I bought a bag of Granny Smith apples I was determined to bring to work and eat with a side of chia and flax seed-filled peanut butter. But, life got away from me and I found myself with a bag of green apples slowly rotting on my kitchen counter and a need to meal prep breakfast. Thus my Sunday morning baked-oatmeal idea was born.

I roughly followed this recipe from Once Upon a Chef, replacing her recommended apples with my Granny Smiths and leaving out the nuts, raisins, vanilla extract, and baking powder (solely because I didn’t have any of these ingredients and it was below freezing outside). I also replaced the lactose-filled milk with almond milk.

After about 45 minutes in the oven, my baked breakfast was ready and worth the wait. With plenty of fibre and protein, this baked apple oatmeal was exactly the warm morning food you want to eat on a cold winter day. This baked creation was massive, so I saved the remainder of the apple-filled breakfast food for the rest of the week, storing it in the fridge for safe keeping.

Unlike other breakfast meals I’ve had so far, the apple oatmeal had me feeling full and satisfied for nearly five hours, a true feat for someone who always finds themselves snacking throughout the day.

Day 4-6: Repeat breakfast can get boring

The next three days I found myself repeating breakfast foods. On day four, I enjoyed an egg-and-cheese sandwich with water. I learned from my previous mistake and added a banana to this meal for added fibre. Unfortunately, I was out of avocado and sacrificed “good fats” once again.

On day five, I elected to eat my baked oatmeal cold with a Dirty Lemon drink. I find that drinking lemon water in the mornings typically makes me feel better than if I drink coffee first-thing, although I can’t say it pairs well with oatmeal that tastes like apple pie.

On the penultimate day of my breakfast challenge, I ate the apple oatmeal again (seriously, the recipe I used makes a generous helping of the stuff and it lasts pretty long in the fridge). This time, I paired the oatmeal with a black cherry Daiya yogurt alternative for some added protein benefits. I also slathered some Sunbutter on top of the oatmeal to create a more well-balanced breakfast.

DaiyaDaiyaMy final breakfast.

Day 7: Fine, breakfast isn’t so bad

I ran in the final day of the breakfast challenge with a blueberry yogurt alternative from Daiya and Trader Joe’s Winter Wake Up tea. I wanted to make something far more fulling for the breakfast finale, but time was against me when I woke up 30 minutes after my alarm when off.

I’m happy the challenge is over because I won’t be forced to gobble down breakfast before fleeing my house, but I ultimately learned a very valuable lesson: Breakfast is an important part of the day. It might not be my favourite meal, but I have a newfound appreciation for breakfast.

Throughout my week-long challenge, I found that eating breakfast was easier than I thought. In the past, eating early in the morning would leave me with painful stomachaches and nausea, so I skipped it altogether. But, this week, I ate slowly and found that eating breakfast helped me feel full longer and snack a little less.

If this challenge taught me one thing, it’s that prepping breakfast meals in advance can make eating in the mornings a lot easier. Some easy breakfast recipes to meal prep include chia breakfast bowls and overnight oats. For someone like me, who doesn’t qualify as an early bird, meal prepping breakfast the night before, or stocking up on easy-to-grab breakfast foods could mean the world of difference.

Bonus content: I have started to make more balanced breakfasts on the weekends

BreakfastMarilyn La JeunesseBreakfast is the most important meal of the day, right?

While I’m still not totally adjusted to eating full-fledged meals before noon, I have committed to making nutritious, well-balanced meals on the weekend. Taking Rosenbruch’s suggestion, I’ve come to fancy Saturday morning scrambled eggs with cherry tomatoes and sliced avocado although, the jury is still out on whether or not the splashes of jalapeƱo hot sauce I smother my eggs in is considered “healthy.”

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