The Mediterranean Diet: Breakfast
Why should you eat breakfast ? You have probably heard that children who eat breakfast do better in school than children who do not eat breakfast. Well, there are also studies to show that adults who eat breakfast do better on tests of intelligence than adults who did not eat breakfast. This is probably related to levels of blood glucose. The glucose, or sugar, in our blood is what fuels our brain. The level of blood glucose is lowest when we wake up in the morning. Eating breakfast will raise your level of blood glucose, so your brain can work better.
What is breakfast? It can be traditional American breakfast food like cereal or toast and eggs, a traditional Mediterranean breakfast of a roll and fruits or it can be pretty much whatever you want. The basic components of a good breakfast are fruit and/or fruit juice, a starch (cereal, toast) and some protein (milk, egg, cheese). It is also a good idea to include some fat. You can use olive oil to cook your eggs or French toast (the olive taste often disappears). If you need a fat to put on your toast, try to stay away from margarine and use a small amount of butter instead. Yes, butter is a source of saturated fat and saturated fat will raise your blood cholesterol.
The Mediterranean diet is otherwise very low in saturated fat. If your only dietary source of saturated fat is a few teaspoons of butter on your toast, you will still be eating a diet low in saturated fat. Try to stay away from margarine, unless you are able to find a margarine that is not made with a source of polyunsaturated fat (corn, safflower, soybean oil) and does not contain the words "partially hydrogenated" in the food label. Partial hydrogenation refers to a process for solidifying liquid fats. The process makes trans fatty acids, which many studies have shown are related to an increase in both heart disease and many cancers.
How many calories should your breakfast contain? Although the traditional Mediterranean diet would be a small breakfast of a roll and fruit which is less than 300 calories, it is suggest that you eat a little more early in the day to try and space your calories throughout the day. The amount of calories you would eat for breakfast would depend on your total calories for the day. Most people seem to average out their calories over a day. If we skip breakfast, we tend to eat more later in the day. Eating more at breakfast may mean you will eat less later in the day. This is good, because the more calories you eat early in the day, the more active time you have to burn them off.
Eating at night (after dinner) is probably the worse time to eat. This is the time of day when you need fewer calories because you are on your way to bed. If you are a night eater and tend not to eat breakfast, try to not eat at night and start eating breakfast consistently. You should find that you are able to shift your calories to earlier in the day. Not eating at night will probably mean that you wake up hungrier and ready for breakfast.
There are many excuses for not eating breakfast. Here are some of the more common excuses and some ways to deal with them:
Not enough time. Wake up 15 minutes earlier. That is plenty of time to eat breakfast and it will be worth it. Or start some of the preparation the night before. Get out the things you will need to prepare the meal and eating components. You can also start the preparation as you are getting ready for the day. Put oatmeal in the microwave when you are within 5 minutes of eating. The oatmeal will be cooked when you are ready to eat.
Not hungry. If you are a night time eater, stop eating at might and you will be hungrier when you wake up. You may also find that you will sleep better if you do not eat at night.
Don't like breakfast. Be non-traditional and eat whatever you like. There are no "breakfast foods". Just be sure you account for the calories.
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