Growing up, were you told that breakfast is the most important meal of your day? Certain themes to that statement are true, especially since what you EAT at breakfast often will determine how you feel and how your body acts the rest of the day, which is one part of my #OptimalU focus.
Here are common questions I receive on an almost daily basis when it comes to breakfast and lunch meal planning, and my recommendations for you to make wise choices when you eat.
What is the best meal for breakfast? And lunch?
I believe the best breakfast for optimal health is a meal that will not spike your blood sugar for an energy boost for an hour, only to free-fall during the mid-morning. I have read thousands of patients’ diet journals, and I can tell you, the typical American breakfast consists of a sweet pastry, toast with jelly, a fruit smoothie, or yogurt. I recommend an egg sautéed with a variety of vegetables (in butter, olive or coconut oil), varied nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts) with a cup of vegetables and a protein (sliced chicken or turkey patty). Just make sure that your protein is organic, or has few, if any additional ingredients besides the “meat.”
Our Western lunch usually consists of a sandwich with salty chips, or a fast-food franchise burger with fries, or a frozen pasta dish with sauce (I read it in my journals every day). I recommend planning ahead your lunches for the week on a Sunday. Purchase BPA free containers and make a salad with the vegetables you desire and store them in your refrigerator, then each day add sliced turkey, grilled chicken, or ocean-caught salmon with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
If you are tired and lacking energy after you eat, it is often a sign that you have consumed too much, or your meal consisted primarily of blood sugar-raising grain.
Should you wake up hungry for breakfast?
Last month our #OptimalU focus was on sleep, and this correlation combines this month’s and last month’s focus. A measurement of your sleep “efficiency” is determined by your desire to have breakfast the next morning. If you wake up hungry, that is a body signal that you had a restful, peaceful sleep where your body was able to make growth hormone. If you wake up “full,” and the thought of food makes you nauseous, it might indicate you are not sleeping well.
Can I juice as a meal replacement?
I do not promote to my patients to consume more than eight ounces of juice per day. If you decide to add juice, I would only use organic vegetables, and drink the beverage with some sort of protein or mid-glycemic, non-glucose food (almond, cashew, chicken, almond butter). The protein will slow and stop the insulin spike and crash. (Side note: I have noticed more patients coming into my office who juice, and are regularly waking up at 3 AM with headaches.)
What are healthy snack options?
My snack recommendations are to not consume energy bars which might have hidden sugar sources. Rather, prepare a rice cake with almond butter and coconut oil, a hardboiled egg (which is only 70 calories), and Dr. Bob’s SWAP (Start With A Protein) bag, which usually has carrots, apples, celery, and cherry tomatoes.
How many calories should I consume at breakfast?
I do not promote calorie counting---instead I choose to be calorie conscious. Once you become label savvy, you will notice breakfast “bars” have a large calorie count vs. a hardboiled egg or sautéed vegetables for breakfast, which have minimal calories. Also, begin looking at the amount of calories and number of servings per unit.