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When I wake up in the morning, I am always excited for breakfast. To me, breakfast is hugely a comfort thing. I feel warm, relaxed, and well just comforted by getting my morning bowl of oatmeal with sliced fruit, a splash of milk, and an Americano to go with. But breakfast is so much more than that. And we have the science to prove it.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is a series ofOatmeal and Bread studies through the Center for Disease Control (CDC) aimed to evaluate the health and nutritional status of the US population. A NHANES study recently published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found through a comparison of national data from 1999-2006 that breakfast has every right to claim the title as “The Most Important Meal of the Day.”

The studied concluded that healthy breakfast choices need to be reinforced among Americans. Why? This is because the study took a look at children and adolescents who did not eat breakfast, those who ate ready –to-eat-cereals, and those who ate ‘other breakfast choices’ such as pancakes, eggs, breakfast meats, and biscuits and then compared nutrient status, calorie intake, body weight, and body waist circumference.

The study showed that those who consumed healthy breakfast choices such as ready to eat cereals had comparably greater intake of all vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, whole grains, as well as lower fat intake. A healthy breakfast pattern continued to show benefits as this group had the lowest rate of obesity, the lowest weight for height ratio, and the lowest mean waist circumference which is a marker of dangerous central body fat and linked to metabolic complications such as Type 2 Diabetes.  How about those breakfast skippers? They had the greatest intake of added sugars, greatest percentage of calories from discretionary sources (high calorie items of low nutritional quality), larger portion sizes at meals, greater intake of fast food, a greater weight for height ratio, and the highest prevalence of obesity.

OatmealYou may be wondering what the rhyme and reason to all of this is. While you are catching some shut eye, blood sugars drop due to a lack of eating and energy intake for 8 hours or so. Those who ditch their morning breakfast continue to let their blood sugars plummet into a state of fasting. This low blood sugar means little energy is readily available for your body and mind to function at its full potential. Your body notices this and as a result, sends out hormones, such as one called Ghrelin, as signals, to stimulate hunger in an effort to get your blood sugar up and energy to your cells. This causes an exaggerated feeling of hunger which often times leads to overeating. Additionally, when you have that kind of that desperate hunger you don’t take the time to make a nice healthy meal or snack. Instead you go for foods that are quick, easy, and will satisfy you such as donuts from the vending machine, the office candy dish, fast food restaurants and other not so healthy items. So although you are saving calories by not eating breakfast, the next meals or snacks tends to account for that calorie deficit and then some making daily calorie intake greater than those who ate breakfast.

Eating a healthy breakfast gets that blood sugar up to a normal range which can help you avoid overeating later in the day, makes you feel energetic and thus more likely to be physically active, usually paves the way for making healthy food choices throughout the day, and also increases the nutrient value of your diet.  A healthy breakfast is often related to increased calcium intake too (yogurt, milk in coffee, and or cereal) which has been correlated with a reduction in body fat.

coffee & muffinSo help yourself, your families and friends by helping them to breakfast. Start your kids off early with good eating rituals so those habits and health status carry over into adulthood. Not to mention it is a point of relaxation in the day, keeps you energetic and focused at work or school, aids in keeping you lean, and promotes physical activity. If you have time you can make French toast with an egg, skim milk, vanilla, and some of Great Harvest’s 100% Whole Grain Apple Cinnamon Walnut bread, make our Whole Grain Pancakes with fresh fruit, or make a breakfast sandwich with an egg, some cheese, and Canadian bacon wedged between two slices of Great Harvest 100% Whole Grain High Fiber Tuscan Herb bread. If you are on the go, keep a bag of our Cinnamon Raisin or Cranberry Almond Oatmeal on hand at work, grab one of our whole grain Oat Berry Muffins, or make some whole grain toast out of our Dakota Bread smeared with some peanut butter and sliced bananas. The possibilities are endless, totally feasible, delicious, and not to mention will keep you healthy and on the right track!

What is your favorite way to work in breakfast to your day?

Hi, I am Melissa! I’m a Registered, Licensed Dietitian and I have been the Nutrition Specialist for Great Harvest since December of 2010. I got my start in nutrition at Colorado State University where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Science with a focus in Dietetics. I went on to graduate from the Dietetic Internship Program at the Baptist Health System in San Antonio and then work as a Medical Nutrition Specialist in Houston. My love of the outdoors and the opportunity to work at one of Outside Magazine’s Top 100 Best Places to Work brought me to Montana and Great Harvest. My favorite part of my job is being able to work with an amazing group of fun and intellectual individuals who are passionate about making healthy eating a delicious experience while giving back to communities across the country.