It's 6 a.m. Dad's in the shower, the kids are still in bed, and you can't open your eyes wide enough to find the bathroom. For you working moms, this is a scene relived every morning of your life. Breakfast time is a meal that families skip, complain about, or hate. It's the only meal of the day no one wants to face. We grab any calories to fill the stomach in a wild dash out the door.
Some of the best and some of the worst foods are served on our breakfast tables. Large amounts of saturated-fat calories are contained in traditional breakfast foods; doughnuts, Danishes, pancakes, muffins, bacon, sausage, butter and cream cheese. Sweets are eaten to help charge the body's engine, and the same goes for that strong cup of black coffee.
For you slow, complaining breakfast eaters, here are a few things you can do to brighten that crowd around the morning table. Use breakfast calories in any way you wish within the four main food groups, and change your menu often. Fruit or juice will raise blood sugar levels to start the day, then add chicken, fish, vegetables, even salads. But try to include some form of complex carbohydrates that are in cereals and breads. Add low-fat yogurt, skim or low-fat milk products, and you will have rounded beginning meals that will help you cope with early morning grouches. Try sandwiches, hot or cold, even leftover pizza. Most breakfast eaters consume about 300 to 400 calories, compared with the 800 to 1,000 ingested at an evening meal, so don't skip breakfast. It really does not save you much if you are counting calories.
If you like eggs, cut your intake in half and have them only twice a week. Stick with soft spreads that are rich in polyunsaturates and free of cholesterol, instead of butter. Substitute low-fat cottage cheese or low-fat yogurt for cream cheese. Try low-fat milk; whole milk has the equivalent of two teaspoons of oil or butter fat per glass. Breads are better if they are made with 100 percent whole wheat flour. Look for whole-grain breads. Bagels are made with high-protein flour and very little fat, so they are a good breakfast substitute for the doughnut or pastry. Hot cereals are better than the cold variety because they lack the sodium and sugar additions. If you buy breakfast products, make sure that grain is first on the list of ingredients, and figure out the sugar content, too. Buy foods high in natural fiber and low in sodium, and watch the fat content.
You are much better off nutrition-wise with natural food from home rather than going to a drive-though on the way to work or grabbing something out of the freezer. You plan dinners, giving variety and spice to the meals. Why not try the same approach with your breakfast meals? See if you notice any changes in your morning attitude.
n Jerry Vance is owner of The Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Senior Center.