Registered Dietitian, American Society for Nutrition
Imagine your healthiest self: You’re energetic, fit, mentally sharp, and you’ve mastered the art of work-life balance like it’s your job. Maybe this seems like wishful thinking, but that lifestyle is just within reach.
Healthy eating is a learned skill, which is great news, but there’s a catch — this skill requires some high-level decision making. In other words, it takes serious brain-power to choose long-term health over immediate gratification.
Successful healthy eaters have a secret when it comes to making healthy food choices: They know that eating nutritious breakfast foods fosters a healthy-eating habit and provides the necessary brain power to make smart choices throughout the day. In turn, the foods they choose help support their mental health, which makes making healthy choices easier. This becomes a feed-forward cycle of positivity, and you, too, can take advantage.
Breakfast is a recurring event and an ideal opportunity to practice optimizing your wellness game. Breakfast is a key player in keeping you energized, focused and strong, even when life threatens to sabotage your best healthy-eating intentions.
Here are four steps to getting the most out of your breakfast:
1. Create a breakfast habit
Your brain relies on shortcuts (heuristics) to make most decisions, and the more you practice, the more likely your healthy habits will stick. Work smarter, not harder — that’s the name of the healthy eating game. Capitalize on this morning opportunity when you’re fresh and less jaded by a long day’s work.
2. Pick a healthy breakfast you’d like to eat ahead of time
Fill up on nutrient powerhouses that are low in added sugar and chock-full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutritional compounds that support brain health. Try a blended smoothie with oats, milk, banana, peanut butter and instant coffee. Want something savory? Try an egg scramble with colorful veggies and a side of oatmeal with berries.
3. Prepare for success the night before
Pull out the blender, place your bowl and utensils on the table, pick out your favorite coffee mug, put a frying pan on the stove and gather your non-perishable items on the countertop.
4. In the morning, it’s go-time
Execute your breakfast plan like the expert you are. Each nutritious bite helps you reduce cravings later in the day, maintain a stable mood and benefit from heightened productivity. Bonus points if you can make it fast and eat it slow — savor this meal at the table, sans distractions.
Follow these rules of the breakfast game and become your healthiest self.
Sarah Dimitratos, Registered Dietitian, American Society for Nutrition, [email protected]