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September 24, 2014

Should You Skip Breakfast?

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

When I was growing up, my mother encouraged me to eat breakfast every day, and I do the same with my children.  I am an avid fan of breakfast (I love all meals, actually!), but I don’t promote the morning meal solely for weight control. That’s why I was amazed by the recent media headlines referring to research that makes it seem like it’s OK to skip breakfast just because it doesn’t help keep you trim.

I don’t put much stock in the two studies published in the July issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and neither do many of my colleagues familiar with breakfast research.  Overall, this most recent research concluded that eating breakfast makes no difference in weight loss or weight control. However, neither study explored what or how much breakfast eaters consumed nor did they document the benefits of breakfast beyond weight control.

Many other studies suggest breakfast is beneficial, especially for children. A University of Minnesota School of Public Health study found that, among teens, those who gained the least amount of weight over a five-year period ate breakfast every day. A more recent study of adults found that regular breakfast consumption lowered the obesity rate. Weight control aside, breakfast is important because it is an opportunity to consume nutrients, including energy to fuel the body and brain. In addition, eating breakfast may promote more conscious eating choices throughout the day by crowding out less nutritious foods. 

Is Breakfast the Most Important Meal?

No meal is more worthy than another, and you shouldn’t skip any of them, including breakfast. Here’s what’s important to remember about the morning meal. 

• Breakfast provides nutrition. When you miss a meal, it’s hard to make up for lost nutrients during the rest of the day. Traditional breakfast foods are typically high in fiber, calcium, protein and iron, found in fortified grains. 

• Quality counts. Not all breakfasts are created equal.  The healthiest meals include complex carbohydrates, such as those found in whole grains like oatmeal and whole wheat bread, and protein, found in Hood Milk, eggs, Greek yogurt, and Hood Cottage Cheese.  To increase protein and fiber, microwave oatmeal with Hood Milk instead of water and stir in ¼ cup raisins for a nutritious and delicious start to the day. Or enjoy a Strawberry Orange Sunrise Smoothie that includes whole grains as oatmeal. 

• Breakfast may promote learning. Hungry kids have trouble learning and paying attention. Younger kids have mid-morning snack times, but older ones do not. Kids need to “power up” their brains every morning with healthy foods before they leave the house. 

• There’s no right way to eat breakfast.  You don’t have to eat right after you get up and you don’t have to have typical breakfast foods. Munch on any healthy meal, such as a small piece of pizza and a glass of orange juice, or a half a sandwich on whole grain bread and a piece of fruit. 


Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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