September 15, 2012

What’s So Important About Breakfast?

If your child flunks a test, botches a project, forgets her backpack, or can’t lose weight, the reason could be what she ate or didn’t eat for breakfast. One out of every four children skip breakfast daily and the numbers are increasing each year. Half of us eat breakfast only on occasion. We skip breakfast because we want to lose weight, aren’t hungry, or because we complain that we don’t have enough time. Big mistake.

a hardy bowl of cheeriosGranted, your child might feel fine at first, full of energy and raring to go for the first few hours after he wakes up. That counterfeit burst of energy comes from a mind and body revved from a good night’s sleep. However, your child will pay for the neglect later. In fact, by afternoon, even if children eat relatively good lunches in an  effort to boost lagging energy levels, they never regain the energy they would have had if they’d taken five minutes to eat breakfast.

Children (and adults, too!) who eat breakfast think more clearly, remember more, are more creative, react quicker, make fewer mistakes, and have more energy than their breakfast-skipping friends. And, they are better nourished, healthier, less likely to battle depression or feel overwhelmed by stress and they consume less fat and more fiber than do breakfast skippers. Children who eat nutritious breakfasts also get more vitamins and minerals. For example, while up to 80% or more of girls don’t consume enough calcium, those that eat breakfast are the ones most likely to meet their daily quota for this bone-building mineral.

What’s even more ironic is that skipping breakfast in an effort to cut calories and lose weight backfires. People eat more, not less when they skip breakfast. It’s called the night eating syndrome. Where once a person starts to eat mid-day, he or she eats more food and calories between noon and bedtime than did someone who took a few minutes to eat in the morning. A study from Vanderbilt University in Nashville found that people who ate breakfast lost more weight than did breakfast skippers, even though both groups consumed the same amount of calories.

Of course, we aren’t talking about a Poptart and a fruit drink. You must eat right.

Follow what I call in my book, Eat Your Way to Happiness, the 1,2,3 breakfast. Combine

1) high-quality carbs (whole grain cereals, waffle, pancake, etc) with

2) a little protein (milk, egg, peanut butter, etc). The carbs provide the fuel your child’s brain needs to function and the protein helps your child feel full and energized longer. Then add

3) 2 fruits/vegetables like a glass of OJ, a bowl of watermelon, and/or a banana.

It takes only 5 minutes to eat well in the morning, so there is no excuse!

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Creative Commons License Nina Matthews via Compfight

Just Do This Today

Serve one of these breakfasts:

Breakfast #1: Instant plain oatmeal cooked in Oatmeal with fresh berries  low-fat milk.Oatmeal is rich in heart-healthy fiber. Cook it in milk instead of water to pack in more calcium. Add some dried fruit, brown sugar, and serve with OJ. (Add 2 tablespoons of toasted wheat germ to the oatmeal, which gives children a hefty dose of vitamin E, trace minerals, and B vitamins. They don’t even know it’s there!)  You can save even more time if you prepare hot cereal the night before by placing dry, whole grain cereal in a preheated, wide-mouth thermos. Add steaming milk and close tightly. The cereal will be ready and warm by morning. Serve with fresh fruit and orange juice.

Breakfast #2: Frozen whole wheat waffles. Top one or two with peanut butter and sliced bananas for the little kids or with fat-free sour cream and fresh blueberries for teenagers. Serve with fresh fruit and low-fat milk.  (Canned fruit – canned in it’s own juice – is just about as good nutritionally as fresh fruit. So use this in a pinch.)

Breakfast #3: Fruit parfait. Layer yogurt, low-fat granola, and fresh fruit in a parfait glass. Serve with OJ. (Try calcium-fortified OJ to help meet your child’s calcium needs when they don’t drink their 4 glasses of milk every day.)

Breakfast #4: Pancake wrap: Make extra pancakes on the weekend and freeze a few for during the week. Heat one of these pancakes in the microwave for two minutes, fill with a sliced banana, roll up and top with apricot sauce or preserves and put a dollop of fat-free whipped cream on top. It looks like a dessert, but this breakfast is packed with vitamins, minerals, with the perfect mix of carbs and protein to fuel your child during the morning hours. (Use low-fat pancake mix, add some toasted wheat germ during preparation, and make with nonfat milk.)

Breakfast #5: If they won’t eat it, have them drink it. In a blender, add OJ concentrate, nonfat yogurt, a banana, canned apricots and a tablespoon or two of toasted wheat germ.

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Hot Off the Diet Press

1. Antioxidants Save the Day: A diet rich in antioxidants, such as selenium and vitamins C and E, lowers the risk for pancreatic cancer, according to a study from the University of East Anglia in England. The health of more than 23, 500 people between the ages of 40- and 74-years was monitored for four years. The people kept food diaries that detailed the types, amount, and methods of preparation for every food they ate for seven days. Blood levels of vitamin C also were measured. After 10 years, 49 people had developed pancreatic cancer. Those who consumed the highest amounts of selenium and vitamins C and E-rich foods had a 67% lower risk for cancer compared to people who consumed the least of these foods. The researchers conclude that one in 12 cancers might be prevented by eating more antioxidant-rich foods.

2. A Hearty Brew: Moderate coffee consumption is good for your heart, according to a study from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. The researchers reviewed five large studies on coffee consumption and heart failure risk that totaled 6,522 heart-failure events among 140,220 people in Sweden and Finland. Results showed that compared to no consumption, drinking two 8-ounce cups of coffee daily decreased heart failure risk by 11%. However drinking too much coffee – more than five cups a day – might raise the risk of developing heart problems.

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3. The Vitamin D Diet: Older women who have low vitamin D levels are at high risk for weight gain, according to a study from Kaiser Permanente Northwest in Portland, Oregon. Almost 4,660 women aged 65-years-old and older were followed for nearly five years. Results showed that women with low vitamin D levels gained about two more pounds during that time than did those with normal levels. However, 78% of the women were low in vitamin D and these women weighed several more pounds even at the start of the study. The researchers conclude that “…higher [vitamin D] levels are associated with lower weight gains, suggesting low vitamin D status may predispose to fat accumulation.”

Food & Mood Tip

What you eat affects your mental health long before it affects your physical health. Literally what you eat or don’t eat for breakfast could affect how fast you react, how well you concentrate, and how clever your ideas are mid-morning and into the afternoon. Skipping meals, not eating enough, adopting a low-carbohydrate diet, forgetting to take your vitamins, or even not drinking enough water are all linked to slowed reaction times, poor memory, and hit-or-miss recall. On the other hand, people who eat well, think better and longer. In a nutshell, a good diet protects your mind by providing nutrients that

  1. are building blocks for nerve and brain cells,
  2. serve as assembly line workers to maintain optimal brain function and
  3. act as warriors and ammunition to protect delicate brain tissue from damage.

Many vitamins and minerals, such as the B vitamins, iron, and zinc, are essential for the proper function of cells, their components, and nerve chemicals. For example, by lowering a compound in the blood called homocysteine,  vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid protect against injury to small blood vessels that supply oxygen to brain cells, prevent scar tissue that interferes with nerve function, and help maintain well-functioning brain cells.

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Eat Your Way to Sexy This Week

We are the most unfit humans to ever have walked this planet. It is not natural – although it has become normal – to be sedentary. We are remarkably well-designed over millions of years to be fit. Our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors were so fit they ran their game to exhaustion! (Imagine running a deer down?!) Our bodies were meant to move. It is when we don’t move, when we don’t keep our amazing bodies well-tuned as Mother Nature designed them to be, that they breakdown, physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually.

Then there is the weight issue. Even when you are successful at weight loss with my SExY Diet from Eat Your Way to Sexy, you won’t maintain the weight loss unless you exercise. The National Weight Control Registry which follows thousands of people who have maintained a significant weight loss of 60 pounds or more for at least five years has found that almost every single one of them exercises regularly – that is, at least an hour to an hour and a half, five or more days a week.

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Mood-Boosting Recipe of the Week

Fall Romance Salad (from Eat Your Way to Sexy by Elizabeth Somer, M.A.,R.D.)

2 1/3 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar (preferably one infused with pomegranate)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 /2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
salt to taste
20 ounces baby greens, such as Fresh Express Tender Ruby Reds
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 cups toasted walnut pieces
5 tangerines or small mandarin oranges, peeled, sectioned, the pith removed, and cut in half
1 1 /2 cups pomegranate seeds

1. In a medium, non-stick saucepan, bring juice to a gentle boil and simmer until reduced to 3/4 cup, approximately 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. While still warm, add thyme. When cool, add vinegar, oil, pepper, and salt.

2. In a large bowl, place lettuce. Top with onion, parsley, walnuts, orange pieces, and finally pomegranate seeds. When ready to serve, gently and thoroughly toss with dressing. Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition Analysis per serving: 332 Calories, 61 % fat (22 g, 2 g saturated), 32 % carbs (27 g),  7 % protein (5.8 g), 3.8 g fiber, 13 mg sodium.

Answers to “Do You Know?” From Last Issue:

1. The basic guidelines for packing a healthy brown bag lunch?
The Brown Bag always should be based on the 4 food groups: A whole grain, at least one colorful fruit or vegetable, a low-fat milk product or calcium-rich alternative, and a protein-rich item.

It should Include only 100% fruit juices, preferably OJ. “Fruit Drink” or “Fruit Punch” or “Made with fruit juice” are all signs that the beverage is primarily sugar. Even juices made from apple or pear juice are more sugar than fruit. Better yet, slip a clamshell of  berries into a lunch, which will give your child a hefty dose of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber.

Skip the cookies and other high-sugar junk. Use low-sugar ways to sweeten desserts. For example, lightly sprinkle apple slices with cinnamon sugar for a sweet taste. Dried fruit, like Medjool dates rich in fiber, potassium, iron, and other essential nutrients.  Or, choose a healthy substitute for cookies, such as a Kind bar made from ingredients you can see and pronounce.

Pair familiar foods with unfamiliar foods. For example, a study from Baylor University found that kids ate more vegetables if they were dunked in peanut butter. So, add green peas to Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup, or dip banana chunks in strawberry yogurt. Also, skip the fruit, flavored, or designer yogurts. Buy nonfat or low-fat plain and sweeten it yourself with some fresh fruit and jam.

2. The 3 basic rules for planning healthy snacks?
Rule #1, keep it simple. A nutritious snack must be convenient, i.e., it must be readily available, take little time to prepare, and taste great.

Rule #2, consider snacks as part of your total diet. You need at least 8 servings of colorful fruits and/or vegetables and 5 servings of whole grain. Snacks are a perfect way to help meet this quota.

Rule #3, include at least two of the following grouping at any one snack and make one choice either fruits and vegetables or 100% whole grains (preferably chewy whole grains).

1) fresh fruits and vegetables

2) whole grains

3) nuts and seeds

4) nonfat milk products, such as yogurt or cheese

5) cooked dried beans and peas

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Do You Know?

Whether or not drinking a glass of water before a meal helps fill you up?

Whether or not late night eating causes more weight gain than eating at other times of the day?

Check the next issue for the answers….

Label Lingo

If you think the word “natural” on a label is the same as “organic,” you are mistaken. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates the term organic, but not the word natural, except when it comes to meat and poultry. It’s a broad term that refers to food that has been minimally processed. Foods that are labeled “natural” don’t contain synthetic preservatives, hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, or other artificial additives, stabilizers, or emulsifiers. But, that doesn’t mean the food is healthy. It can be made from refined grains, added sugars, too much salt, or very few nutrients and still be called “natural.” You must turn over the package and read the nutritional information and ingredient list.

The Daily Menu

Put know how into practice with this simple, nutritious meal plan. Eliminate the evening snack  if you want to cut an additional 200 calories. And, with all the menus in my newsletter, feel free to tweak to your food preferences and choices.

1 cup cooked old fashion oatmeal (2/3 cup dried oatmeal cooked in 2/3 cup nonfat milk and sprinkled with dried plums and 1 teaspoon nuts)
6 ounces calcium- and vitamin D-fortified orange juice
Green tea (optional)

Mid-Morning Snack:
1 nonfat latte
1 fig bar cookie

All Veggie Spaghetti: Top 2 cups cooked spaghetti squash with 1 /2 cup commercial spaghetti sauce (such as Francesco Rinaldi ToBe Healthy sauce with DHA) and 2 tablespoon low-fat Parmesan cheese.
1 cup watermelon chunks topped with 1 tablespoon feta cheese
sparkling water with lemon

Mid-Afternoon Snack:
1 /2 cup plain, nonfat yogurt topped with 1 tablespoon honey and 2 tablespoons dried fruit

1 grilled chicken breast topped with 1 tablespoon orange marmalade
1 /2 cup smashed sweet potatoes (bake or microwave garnet sweet potatoes until soft. Spoon out insides, mix with a little honey, salt, and pepper)
2/3 cup fresh or frozen and steamed green beans
1 serving Fall Romance Salad

Evening Snack:
1 scoop double-churn vanilla ice cream topped with 1 cup blueberries
Decaf tea

Nutrition Analysis: 1,951 Calories, 25 % fat (54 g, 8.7  g saturated), 60 % carbs (293 g), 16 % protein (78 g), 36 g fiber, 1,494 mg sodium.