Your mouth may water when you think about an omelet or oatmeal with a side of strawberries. But the odds are you didn't eat either of them this morning.
A whopping 43 percent of Americans' "eating and drinking occasions" between wakeup time and 11 a.m. consist of a beverage but no food, according to a new morning meal study published by the market research company The NPD Group. As for the rest, 24 percent eat a "small/mini meal," 21 percent eat a "full/complete meal," and 11 percent eat a "snack." So what does this mean for your family? "The key is make your beverage potent," says registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, author of Read It Before You Eat It: How to Decode Food Labels and Make the Healthiest Choice Every Time. "Boost your beverage."
Add skim milk to your coffee. Why not turn your java into café au lait — or splurge on hot chocolate made with skim milk? A cup of nonfat leche contains just 90 calories. And you'll get calcium (a third of your daily requirement!), phosphorus, potassium, protein, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and more. You'll also get protein.
Whip up a smoothie or milkshake. Buy some unsweetened frozen fruit at the grocery. Add some skim milk or yogurt, and put your blender to work. Don't own one? Look at Consumer Reports' best blenders: KitchenAid KSB560 (about $90), Hamilton Beach 54615 (about $20) and Vita-Mix 5200 (about $500). "Grab one of those and go," says Taub-Dix. "I love the idea of smoothies because they're quick and easy." You can experiment with veggies in your smoothie, too. Taub-Dix tosses kale, carrots, and apples into her blender.
Put quality above quantity. You don't need bacon, ham and eggs, and toast with butter, says Taub-Dix. Instead, try almond butter on a piece of whole grain toast. (No need to go crazy and whip up strawberry pancakes by Rachael Ray.) "It's OK to be a light eater as long as you're a right eater!" she says.
Think about the message "no breakfast" gives your brain. "If you're not eating breakfast, it sends an invitation to many people to have a bigger lunch," says Taub-Dix. "Ideally it would be nice to change people's habits, but if we can't change their habits, let's at least try to modify or boost what they're already doing."
Most physicians and dietitians strongly recommend breakfast despite a controversial Germany study last year that found the more people ate in the morning, the more calories they took in per day. (In the experiment, they found that people consumed the same amount of food at lunch and dinner, regardless of how much or how little they downed at breakfast.) Alas, as critics noted, the Germany study relied on food diaries. It's more accurate to watch people eat in a lab or at least to get them to use a cell phone camera to photograph what they eat. And people eat less than they usually do when they keep track themselves.
Previous studies have found that adults who eat breakfast are more likely to be exercisers and that breakfast skippers are heavier with larger waists.
Why not grab a yogurt to go? Or start using that blender you got for Christmas?
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