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Fearing Breakfast on Well-Being Wednesday

Posted May 04 2011 2:39pm

Today it’s a rainy day in the neighborhood, but that can’t bring down my mood today… I am officially done with classes for the year! I have three papers and two exams in between me and summer vacation, :)

And now it’s time for Well-Being Wednesday! From the definition of “well-being” is a good condition of existence; a state characterized by health, happiness, and prosperity. This phrase is a perfect example of what I am trying to get towards. I’m sure you have heard this before, but I truly believe that daily small changes can really add up and lead to greater, more important transformations that can ultimately benefit you.

Today I want to talk about breakfast and its vital importance for our bodies. Now, I know you have heard and read countless information about breakfast- its benefits and necessity for the proper and healthy function of our bodies. But before you click away from this page I wanted to discuss my own personal history with this meal and how I have ignored the tips and suggestions for far too long.

Before my relationship towards food took a turn for the worst, breakfast was my FAVORITE meal of the day! Belgium waffles, homemade buttermilk pancakes, toast with butter and cinnamon-sugar, huge bagels with cream cheese, doughnuts and cereal, all made regular appearances in my diet.

Cereal however, took charge for my food of choice and it was honestly what I looked forward to as soon as I woke up. My family always had the best cereal (and worst for you :) ) kinds in the house. I’m talking- Cocoa Krispies, Cinnamon Life, Waffle Crisp, Rice Krispie Treats Cereal (<– Remember those?!), Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cap’n Crunch, Reeses Puffs, Alpha Bits, Frosted Flakes… I could keep on going but I think you get the point, I loved cereal!

I would eat 3-4 bowls before school, obviously not measuring out portion sizes and probably having the equivalent of 6 servings with 1% milk. I would always have a food baby after downing this much food but it was so darn tasty. I would go through phases, eating one kind of cereal for a few weeks or months and then suddenly getting sick of it and trying a different one. It’s safe to say I cannot have Frosted Flakes anytime soon, I think I ate them everyday for a year!

Of course this habit changed as my disordered eating worsened. The adjustments came when I joined Weight Watchers and I was taught all about portion sizes and points values for foods. I can remember the first time I actually calculated the point for a normal breakfast for me and it turned out to be more than half of my daily points! That certainly shocked me and allowed me to understand how much I was eating of sugar-laden, not very nutritious food. That is one of the few positive aspects that came out of Weight Watchers for me, it taught me portion sizes which I feel is important for everyone to have at least some understanding of.

As I got more involved in the WW plan, I began measuring out my cereal and switched to brands that were healthier and lower in points because of their calorie, fat and fiber count. With the old plan, the more fiber a food had, the less points it would be, although this was capped at a certain number. My mom was trying to support while I went through the WW phase and began buying me cereals such as Kashi, Fiber One, Smart Start, Mini Wheats, and other brands I believed were better. I cut down my intake to one portioned out serving in the morning, usually coming out to 3 points and that was breakfast.

I didn’t realize at the time that I could add so much more to this meal to keep me satisfied, as I was always starving about an hour after consuming my meager bowl of cereal. But this is where cutting out breakfast really began- I started to eat less in the morning to “save” my points for the rest of the day, an idea that would be taken to a negative extreme.

Well the months passed, I continued to stay on Weight Watchers, and I lost weight. Things of course took a turn for the worst, which is how I got the bottom point I did, and it showed in the way I would “eat” breakfast. My new routine for the last 2 or so years while both at school and home, has been to wake up, drink coffee, eat a few carrot sticks, workout or run, come back and shower, eat a crap load more of carrots to try to ease my starving stomach crying for food, and eventually “give in” and eat an apple around 11:00. (On a side note, my skin starting to get a turn a tad orange from all of the carrots I was eating…) And that was it until lunch, where I would eat so furiously because obviously I was so freakin hungry!

Apples, probably my favorite fruit and so good for you, yet of course it alone cannot sustain you. I decided I could only break my fast by eating an apple in the morning because any other type of food would make me fat. I deemed fruit to be the safest choice and an apple was the best because of its high fiber count. An apple was also only 1 point according to Weight Watchers which allowed me to eat minimally in the morning and again, “save” my points for the rest of the day. Of course by the time lunch rolled around my stomach was practically eating itself and I would eat with great speed to try to quell the hunger beast. It would take my brain so much longer to register that I was full and I usually ended up over eating both at lunch and dinner because I had been so starving for several hours. I would constantly have that “desperate” hungry feeling where you cannot really think about anything else besides gettin some food in your belly!

I have improved tremendously with eating more calories in the morning, especially after hard workouts and runs. In addition to my precious apple, I will have Greek yogurt with flax seeds or some other kind of fat source, and perhaps some cottage cheese or cereal. However, I like to spread these foods throughout my morning because I still cannot get myself to eat a big meal for thing. What is my fear exactly, and why do I feel this need to conserve calories? I’m not entirely sure what the answer to those questions are because my methods of madness do not make sense to me most of the time.

I know I do feel I can control my hunger and eating much better in the beginning of the day, and this makes it easier to NOT eat in the morning. I can’t shake that need to conserve calories because the underlying fear is that I will be hungry later in the day but have already eaten too much and should not have anymore. This does not seem too logical… I mean when you are hungry, you eat! If only it were that simple.

When I was home during my winter break this past year, I tried to eating a larger breakfast, just to see what happened. My staple meal when I was home was oats cooked in milk and water, with a sliced banana and chia seeds- via Kath’s video i nstructions. I even topped it with peanut and/or almond butter for even more calories! This petrified me, I was consuming about 500 calories before noon, something I had not done in several years. I still did feel hungry by the lunch time, yet it was not that I-am-going-to-faint-if-I-don’t-eat-something-now hungry. I also had much more energy, and the food tasted so dang good! So let’s get this straight, I can eat a large breakfast, feel satisfied, less hungry and irritated, AND I don’t balloon?! Ground-breaking discoveries here!

Unfortunately those good habits have not continued into this current semester and I am still struggling with accepting a larger amount of calories in the morning. I continue to have that irrational fear of not having enough calories for the end of the day, which is really stupid I realize, I just can’t seem to shake it. I should not even worry about calories! <– Workin on it :) Even the times I have had Oats in a Jar or other oatmeal recipes, I have usually consumed for dinner (sometimes in the morning though), rather than at breakfast… I apologize for misleading any of you on this.

Let’s remind ourselves (and me!) of the benefits that breakfast provides!

  1. Jumpstart Your Metabolism- Breakfast is considered an important meal because it breaks the overnight fasting periods and replenishes your supply of glucose. Glucose is your body’s energy source and is broken down and absorbed from the carbohydrates you eat. In the morning, after you have gone without food for as long as 12 hours, your glucose levels drop. When this happens, your body compensates by releasing the glucose that has been stored in your muscle tissue and liver, called glycogen. Once all the energy from the glycogen stored is used up, the body breaks down fatty acids to produce energy.
  2. Increase Your Fat Burning Ability- After 12 hours of sleep your body has been fasting overnight, and in the morning you are almost in the first stages of starvation. Skipping breakfast keeps your body in “starvation” mode, while eating a good meal will give your metabolism a boost. If you’re trying to lose weight, the last thing you want to do is keep your metabolism at this lowered state. Eating a healthy breakfast will increase your fat burning ability. Breakfast, therefore, can boost your energy levels as well as your metabolism for the day.
  3. Enhance Concentration- Eating breakfast improves your thinking ability and keeps you at top mental performance. It provides your brain with fuel to enhance problem solving and memory retention.
  4. Energy- Eating breakfast gives you energy, increasing your physical activity during the day. A healthy breakfast refuels your body and replenishes the glycogen stores that supply blood sugar (glucose). Skipping breakfast is associated with decreased physical activity.

I am of course not trying to lose weight, but reading and seeing this makes me more comfortable consuming a larger breakfast because I continuously have that rather annoying fear of gaining weight. I think the last point is the most important- energy! I remember feeling like I was going to faint when I would be just eating an apple after having nothing for over 12 hours!

Before starting my own blog, I read so many food and healthy living blogs on a daily (and sometimes obsessive!) basis and could not believe some of the breakfasts they were eating and how thin they all stayed! Of course my irrational brained simply assumed I was different and unable to eat as they could, but good for them at least. Not true, as I exercise plenty and can eat breakfast like any normal person!

Which brings me to some of the breakfast recipes I have tried and am looking forward to having as I get more comfortable with eating this very important meal of the day.

  • Pretty much ANY of Angela’s recipes, this one in particular!

Oh goodness there are soooo many more, and I have all summer to test my favorites :D

Eating breakfast is so important and I am realizing now that my lack of fuel in the morning is really starting to affect my workouts. I used to be able to run on practically nothing in the mornings but of course your body can only sustain and keep going for before it’s crying for a break. I think I have reached that point, my runs have been total crap lately as I talked about the other day. I used to perform on minimal food, but this cannot continue forever.

I know my fear of eating too much in the morning is not something that will go away quickly. It will take time to get used to this but I know the benefits far outweigh any anxieties I feel around “the most important meal of the day!”

-What meal do you tend to eat the most at?
-Do you ever concerned you will be hungry later on and therefore restrict in the morning and during the day?
-What current healthy breakfasts are you loving lately? Keep the recipes coming, I need to get excited about quelling my fears around this meal!

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