For all those arguments about not being able to feel love for an inanimate object or a concept, I say "pah!" to you because I LOOOVE breakfast. How much do I love it? Enough to at least partly plan my vacation trips around the ease of getting a good breakfast, be it made myself or ordered in a restaurant or hotel. Enough to make me the one medicine resident who ensured her team had breakfast before rounding the night after call. Enough to get me out of bed and often forsake the chance to sleep in, just to enjoy breakfast quietly. You get the idea...I truly think it is the best meal of the day and it's clearly my favorite.
I am always amazed when I meet anyone who tells me they are "not breakfast people." How could you NOT be? This is the foot you launch from in the morning before your day really gets going.Plus, are you truly not hungry after a night's fast? Of course I do understand each person has his/her own preferences and habits. But if you come to visit me, expect breakfast to be served and you are free to partake, or not.
My patients often ask about meal strategies and content. I am not a nutritionist but thankfully have expanded my knowledge over the years since completing training so that I can at least offer some simple suggestions. For specific concerns, for example gluten free or lactose free meals, I defer to a trained nutritionist who has far better and more complex knowledge base from which to draw recommendations. My family does not follow a particular type of diet, neither do we have major restrictions such as gluten free diets. Over time, with accumulation of knowledge (and some better cooking skills), we have changed to a healthier and more balanced diet in general, but I would hardly hold us up as poster family of ALL THINGS PERFECTLY HEALTHY. Nope, afraid we can't earn that crown, but I think we do pretty well.
Using breakfast as my template meal, here are a few simple tips we use to try to keep things healthy while enjoying a meal that we all look forward to (yes, my kids are fully indoctrinated into breakfast-love):
1)Watch your portion sizes. My sister jokes that we are the only family in America that follows portion sizes, and to be honest we sometimes feel as though we underfeed our guests. It is now an ingrained habit for me to read the ingredient labels of our food,including even things like butter, milk and cream cheese being used to make something else. The quickest useful info off that food label is the portion size and calorie content.
2)No plate is complete without fruits or vegetables. And no, not the random sad lone strawberry sitting on top of four thousand pancakes covered in syrup.I mean filling the plate atleast half full if possible with fruits/veggies, then the rest of the dish comes on board. Not sure how much to aim for overall? The CDC has a calculator you can use to find out your recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables.This not only ensures you get closer to the goal of several servings of fruits/veggies per day, but it helps with number 1 above, portion control of the rest of the plate.If you fill up on fresh fruits you will be less likely to eat a second helping of pancakes/sausage/bread.
3) Drink water.This I know will be a controversial one for many of you, but I would rather have whole fruit than fruit juice unless it is a very special freshly made juice, like passion fruit. Orange juice? Nah, I'll skip it and save my calories for my cappuccino instead. Drinks are notoriously deceptive in terms of caloric load,and we rarely follow portion sizes on them, so IF you are watching calories, consider skipping a juice and having water instead.
4)Watch those calories. I do not watch calories for my kids, but instead just ensure their meals are overall healthier than not. But my husband and I do roughly keep an eye on calorie load--not religious counting(although I did during pregnancy to ensure I was getting enough and not too much) but a rough estimate by label reading and watching portion sizes. Remember calories are present in healthy foods too, so over eating those may not be the best if that is a concern. I love avocados, but eating three of them at once in addition to the rest of my meal is probably not wise given how calorie dense they are themselves. It is a myth that you cannot become overweight while eating healthy meals.
5)When you can, cook your own meals. I am a bit of a control fanatic, it's true. But I also love ordering food in restaurants or having a treat of breakfast made by someone else in general. Which person doesn't, after making meals all week, right? The downside is that I would have no idea what went into those meals made for me, because I didn't make the bagel, or those pancakes, the frittata or the scramble. When I make my meals I know how much butter (if any) I used, if the buttermilk was full or low fat, and how much sugar was added. And I don't use token fruits on top, I LOAD IT UP. So even though I am not a nutritionist and cannot fully identify all nutrient components to a tee, when I prepare a meal myself I have a good idea of what is in it. Nothing against eating out, I love it and will continue to do it. But I feel strongly that in order to really control your diet and your health associated with it, you need to be involved in the cooking of your own meals.
Are you a breakfast eater? How do you enjoy it best, quick and efficient or luxuriously relaxed?