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Let me guess: nothing?

Coffee and a donut?

Cereal with skim milk?

A smoothie with berries, protein powder, and spirulina? (GOOD FOR YOU!)

All the hype about breakfast is true. You are quite literally breaking the fast after presumably 12 or more hours, and you need this meal to stabilize blood sugar for the morning and to give you brain power and energy. Skip the first meal of the day and you set yourself up for a cascade of blood sugar irregularities, leading to irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and binge eating. Once you begin eating breakfast regularly, and you’ve established a regular mealtime schedule (which includes not eating after 8pm), your inner hunger thermostat will begin to regulate.

The possibilities for a breakfast menu are limitless. Be creative! You can choose traditional fare, such as 2-3 eggs with organic, nitrate-free bacon, turkey sausage, or chicken breast. You can try warm cereal such as oatmeal or quinoa with stewed fruit and cinnamon, or set the crock pot at night to make a congee. Whip up a smoothie with protein powder (NOT SOY). Or you can have salmon lox with spinach and capers. The rule of thumb is to make sure you are getting protein, complex, unrefined carbs (not white flour pastries!), and healthy fats. Get at least 15-20 grams of protein at breakfast. This will provide you with energy, keep you full, and will set the foundation for a day of balanced blood sugar. 15-20 grams of protein is 2 eggs with a link or 2 of turkey sausage; a scoop of protein powder; or 3 oz of salmon or chicken. Steer clear of processed cereals, muffins, baked goods or fruit juices, which contain gluten and too much concentrated sugar. Eat a piece of fruit instead!

Yummy, but NO GOOD! Too much sugar and white flour spikes blood sugar. Not enough protein.

Yummy, but NO GOOD! Too much sugar and white flour spikes blood sugar. Not enough protein.

Much better. Protein and vegetables.

Much better. Protein and vegetables.

Forget about skipping breakfast if you’re trying to lose weight: you’ll sabotage your efforts off the bat and are more likely to gain weight. You’re far more likely to binge later in the day or at night, when you should be consuming less. The body needs less fuel as the day progresses. Think about it: you don’t need a huge meal providing a full caloric energy load before retiring. Your largest meal should be breakfast or lunch followed a light dinner. You need calories and fuel during the active parts of the day!

Skip breakfast in favor of coffee, which delays hunger further, and you’ve destroyed your good mood foundation for the day. Coffee raises blood sugar and stimulates the adrenals to release adrenaline, preparing you to flight or fight. This is why you feel a lift, or a buzz, but this recurrent response taxes the adrenals, contributes to chronic stress and leads to a later crash and long-term fatigue. Blood sugar plummets, and you’re left moody, exhausted and often starving. This repeated blood sugar spike and drop taxes not only the adrenals, but also the pancreas. Coffee raises blood pressure and cholesterol (in some individuals). Coffee is also a diuretic, resulting in dehydration, and causing the body to flush easily depleted B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and calcium. Coffee is also one of the most pesticide-laden substances you can ingest. If you choose to drink it, always go for organic.

Here are some less than ideal choices:
Pancakes or french toast with syrup, pastries, toast with jelly, or donuts. All have white flour and sugar and no protein, fruit, or veggies. Get ready for a blood sugar spike and crash. Cereal with skim milk. Cereals usually contain lots of sugar, gluten, and other refined foods, and skim milk is not a whole food! Your body needs the fat to absorb the fat soluble vitamins (like D), and pasteurized and homogenized add insult to injury. Heating milk kills the enzymes needed for your body to digest milk properly. Many fare much better with raw milk. Can you get it in your area? It’s illegal in many states (not California, where it’s available at Whole Foods and certain farms.) You can also purchase raw milk and make your own yogurt and sour cream.

Eating breakfast is a crucial step in starting off on the right foot. It provides the body with necessary energy and nutrients to fuel a busy day, and it sets the foundation for an even, solid mood.
(some excerpts taken from Julia Ross’s The Mood Cure)

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