Working primarily with middle and high school athletes, it is sometimes fun to quiz the group about what they had for breakfast.
Overwhelmingly I've found the most common answers over the years to be - nothing, cereal, or something in the bagel/muffin/waffle/pancake/toast spectrum.
Either eating nothing or eating only sugar-based products is not optimal. In fact you actually might be better skipping the meal altogether instead of starting the day on a blood sugar rollercoaster.
More and more research is coming out that promotes adding protein-rich foods to your breakfast, something we've advocated in our blog posts many times before.
But what about vegetables at breakfast?
Added Benefits Of Vegetables At Breakfast
We all know veggies are good for your overall health, and that most of us do not eat enough of them. Of course knocking down a serving or two of broccoli at any time of day would be good for you, but there are reasons the morning timing would be even more helpful.
Research tells us eating protein at breakfast helps us to better regulate our appetite throughout the day. But veggies do this even better! They're loaded with hunger-suppressing fiber to go along with all those vitamins and minerals.
They also keep our blood sugar on a more even keel, helping to avoid the energy ups and downs that come along with a sugar-based breakfast.
And here's the biggest one for kids headed off to school (or adults off to work):
Vegetable intake in the morning has been shown to improve both your mood and your ability to focus over the course of the day.
It's a pretty safe bet the person at work who's always complaining, or the kid in class who can't stop talking, aren't munching on baby carrots and kale chips in the morning!
Numerous studies show that there is a direct relation to academic performance and what you eat before going. Studies on work performance for adults are not as easy to find, but surely the effect is the same. By making a paradigm shift to thinking of food as performance enhancing, it becomes a little easier to make better choices in the morning.
'Okay, But Do You Really Think MY Kid Is Going To Eat Veggies In The Morning?'
60% of high school students don't eat breakfast at all.
90% of all Americans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables.
So you're probably thinking there's a 150% chance your kid will never actually eat a vegetable at breakfast, right?
Like any other food, if it tastes good there's a better chance it'll be eaten. Here's a couple ways to realistically get at least one vegetable serving in before leaving for work or school:
- Mix them into scrambled eggs, breakfast burritos or a quiche so they get overpowered by the better tasting stuff. Finely chopped broccoli or cauliflower are two that work nicely.
- Eat a salad. If it's good for you later in the day, why not at breakfast? The extra beauty here is you can make it the night before and store it in the fridge. Add some fresh fruit, a protein source, and it's a meal!
- If you don't want to give up your regular breakfast, just add a 'side' like kale chips or baby carrots to munch on.
- Since most people tend to get their only veggie servings from dinner, you can make a little extra so there's leftovers ready to eat for breakfast the next day.
- For those who like their breakfast shakes, make sure to mix in a vegetable serving or two.
For more specific recipes, here's a few sites to get you started:
The busier we all get, the harder it is to eat balanced, nutritious meals.
Getting a jump on your nutritional needs early in the day provides you with a range of benefits that put you in position to achieve success both athletically, academically, and in your career.