DO THIS DON'T: Eat Breakfast!

OK, so eating breakfast is only a "don't" in that so many of us DON'T do it. But we totally should!

Nov 18, 2011 at 5:30pm | Leave a comment

At the risk of sounding like a big, boring stick-in-the-mud, I am here to tell you that eating breakfast has totally changed my world for the better. Maybe that sounds dramatic, but it's true. Look, I already admitted that my favorite magazine is one made for senior citizens, so I may as well out myself fully as a big bore!

Ever since I was a kid, I just couldn't cotton to the idea of eating a meal while still adjusting to being awake. It was all I could do to splash my face with some water and trudge off to school, don't ask me to eat some big, heavy stack of pancakes (don't mind them for dinner, though!) or a bowl of cereal sure to rip the skin off the roof of my mouth. No...no thank you.

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And aside from the occasional greasy hangover feast at a diner, this habit has lasted into my adult years. It wasn't until I went through a serious health scare last year and started taking a closer look at what I was eating and when, that I realized (with the help of a nutritionist) that there might be something slightly disordered about my eating.

My old habits were erratic as hell, yet predicable in their awfulness. Skip breakfast (I "wasn't hungry"), then go for hours until I'd feel dizzy and headachy and would suddenly become DESPERATE for something to eat.

Once I found that food, I'd eat way too much of it, trying to overcompensate, and then I'd feel sick in a whole other way afterward. At night I'd have some kind of heavy dinner as well, and would boost myself with sweets and/or caffeinated sodas when I started lagging, which also made me crash. I ate at weird times and in excessive amounts.

I was trapped in a cycle where I'd basically be starving my body (being overweight, it never occured to me to realize this is exactly what I was doing to myself) until it ran itself down completely, and then I'd binge. I felt like shit. And I know a lot of friends who do the same thing.

Because I work several different freelance jobs and sometimes keep odd hours, it can still be a challenge to stick to a completely predictable eating schedule -- but I've managed to do pretty well at it.

Sick of abusing my body, I made the decision last winter to try eating at regular intervals. I now start each day with some kind of breakfast, and although it didn't feel natural at first, I now crave it.

I'm no doctor and am not trying to lecture you how or what to eat, I swear. I know everyone is different, but that old adage about breakfast being brain and body fuel has turned out to be true for me.

For anyone out there struggling with these same issues (like the fellow xoJane writer who asked me to write this article!) who may want to try changing things up to see if it makes a difference, I thought I'd share some of my go-to breakfast ideas. They are all quick and easy, because otherwise I just can't be bothered. Here we go...

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Obviously you could use whatever nut butter and jam/preserves you prefer. Sunflower is a nice choice, or just natural peanut butter. I am a vegetarian who is looking to get Omegas wherever I can (and am allergic to fish so I wouldn't/couldn't take fish oil even if I were a meat eater). I like to buy frozen wholegrain waffles with flaxseed in them. I like making these because they toast up fast and I can take them with me when I'm running out the door, no fork needed. I'll pair it with a banana or other piece of fruit, but usually bananas because I LOVE THEM.

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C'mon, how easy is this? You're not even "making" it. I buy a big bag of chopped walnuts (again, for the Omegas but also fiber/protein) from the baking aisle and add a couple tablespoons of them to nonfat greek yogurt (my favorite brand is Chobani, especially the blueberry or black cherry flavors). It adds crunch and extra flavor. Depending on how hungry I am, I'll pair this with a piece of fruit (here, a rapidly-browning apple) or a slice of whole wheat toast.

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This is one of my super favorites, and it is so easy. Just smash some ripe avocado with a bit of lemon juice, and put it on top of a toasted english muffin or bagel with some sliced tomato, salt and pepper.

On those mornings when the idea of something sweet grosses me out, this does the trick.

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Yeah, steelcut oatmeal takes longer to make than regular, but that's why I make a big batch when I have the time, then freeze it into individual servings. (Here's how to do it.) That way you can just pop it in the microwave, and stir in some frozen berries when it comes out. The berries will thaw out and cool down the oatmeal at the same time. If you like, add some milk too (I like unsweetened almond milk). Sometimes I top this with some ground flaxseed as well, which tastes toasty and good. Chopped nuts are also a good option.

Oh, and just so we can "keep it real," let me show you my kitchen "photo studio," lest these photos fool you into thinking I'm actually tidy or something:

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And in the interest of keeping things totally REALLY real, I present you with...

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On those days I'm getting a late start or am not at home and need to grab something in a major hurry, I'll totally fall back on a drive-thru. There are worse choices than a veggie burger for sure. I only wish every fast food restaurant would start offering them, it's 2011 people!

Are you a breakfast person, or does the very thought make you retch? Do you notice changes in your mood or productivity when you skip meals? I want to know.