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November 3, 2015

How I Learned to Fall in Love with Breakfast.

Flickr/Tella Chen

“I think I’m going to skip breakfast from now on—I’d rather have the extra 15 minutes of sleep.”

I was nine years old when I informed my mother that I was giving up breakfast, and I asked that she just buy me some of those Carnation Instant Breakfast shakes that I could drink on the way to school.

Thus became a pattern that would exist for most of my life—just rustling up some breakfast (usually a sugar-packed instant smoothie drink or some type of “power bar”) so that I could swiftly transition from sleep into my workday. Sure, if I was on vacation, I’d enjoy a lavish breakfast or brunch buffet, but when it came to my daily routine, breakfast was never a priority.

Early last year, I began working with a holistic health coach, primarily to address my concerns about energy depletion during my workday. I trained as a clinical counselor over a decade ago, and I still maintain an active private practice. When I began writing books in 2011, the demand for my training services increased, and offering such trainings now constitutes the bulk of my work life. I noticed that I would experience deep hunger pains in mid-morning and mid-afternoon, and by my day’s end, my appetite would be ravenous. Before working with Jessica, my health coach, I tried taking matters into my own hands by letting myself have snacks—usually something like a banana, which led to an inevitable sugar crash.

In my initial detective work with Jessica, she encouraged me to start noticing patterns between my energy levels and what I consumed. I noticed that when I stayed at certain hotels that included breakfast as part of their room rate, I was more likely to get up a bit earlier for breakfast. Not surprisingly, on those days I began noticing that my energy levels were higher, and I often didn’t need a morning or afternoon snack. Although I started becoming mindful of other patterns and their impact on my energy as well (for example, not allowing myself to eat carbohydrates during lunch), the benefits of allowing for a proper breakfast became more and more pronounced.

For a solid year, I’ve made getting up earlier and making time for a real breakfast a priority. This means that if a hotel I stay in does not have a restaurant on site, I make a commitment to going out for breakfast in the morning—or getting to a grocery store the night before to have something on hand in my room. I also commit to paying for breakfast at the hotel, even if it’s not included with the room. I make sure that I eat at least a half hour before my workshops, instead of “rustling something up” from the hotel gift shop in the minutes before I begin.

I recently had an experience on the road that highlighted just how much my connection to breakfast has benefitted me—and of course that happened when I had a one-day lapse in my breakfast practice. I pulled into a hotel in Indianapolis late one night, and as usual, I made sure there was a restaurant onsite. However, I overslept the next morning, and all I could find time for before my workshop was an “energy bar” in the hotel gift shop. I read the label and there was more protein than sugar, so I thought I was in good shape, but by mid-morning I was miserable. I was clawing for anything in sight just to keep my energy up. I realized my error and vowed anew—whether I was home or on the road—that I would never skimp on breakfast again.

I’d like to share with you, some of my favorite breakfast ideas that keep my body nourished for the day. (Keep in mind that I am not a health coach or nutritionist, so you may consider consulting such an expert about what will work best for you.) I am simply sharing my experience, strength and hope, as a busy professional, about what works for me.

When I have an abundant amount of breakfast time:

Omelettes. Not only do I benefit from the generous amount of protein that eggs afford me, but I also find that omelets are a fantastic vehicle for adding in the fresh vegetables that my body so desperately needs. Kale, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms and green and red peppers are some of my favorite add-ins. Blue cheese, fresh Parmesan, Swiss, or queso fresco are some of my favorite cheeses to mix and match in my omelette creations.

Monk Hash. This name, and general recipe, comes from one of my spiritual teachers, Christine Valters Paintner—a Benedictine Oblate and founder of the creative community, Abbey of the Arts. Christine makes the hash with sweet potatoes, kale and sausage—although I like to substitute ground turkey for the sausage. A poached egg on top is an optional and delightful addition.

When breakfast time Is limited:

Icelandic yogurt with embellishments. Although Greek yogurt is all the craze, I’ve much preferred Icelandic skyr whenever it’s available. It’s important to look for brands where there is more protein than sugar, and many of them are available. I like to top my yogurt with a mixture of chia and hemp seeds and then mix in some fresh berries. Sometimes I will blend in nuts as well. The possibilities are limitless.

Berries & Blue Cheese. I owe my health coach, Jessica, the credit for this one. In this delightful breakfast (which also serves as a lovely afternoon snack), take a cup of berries (I keep some frozen ones on hand to thaw out if needed) and top it with fresh blue cheese, walnuts or almonds, and some chia seeds. It’s protein packed and delicious if you like the blend of sweet and savory.

Avocados. The beautiful “superfood” that is the avocado is one of my favorites. I often find that splitting open an avocado, and filling one half of it with some of my favorite high protein embellishments (pepitas, hemp, chia or flax seeds), gets me through the morning just fine.

Breakfast smoothies. A well-composed breakfast smoothie of a solid base (almond milk, chilled herbal tea, coconut water), a core protein (avocado, nuts, seed blends) and some fruit and vegetables in combination is also a solid option for me. Check out my health coach’s website for some great smoothie recipe ideas!

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Relephant Read:

11 Awesome Healthy Breakfast Ideas.

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Author: Dr. Jamie Marich

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/TheJokersTrickFlickr/Tella Chen

Dr. Jamie Marich

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