I'm not a breakfast person, so I challenged myself to eat it every morning for a week.
A balanced breakfast should have protein, fiber, and healthy fats, so I stuck to things like eggs, oatmeal, and yogurt.
I found it much easier to eat before noon if I prepped my food the night before and went with grab-and-go options.
I used to feel sick when I ate breakfast, but after this challenge, it helped me stay fuller throughout the rest of the day.
Eating breakfast every day for a week isn't impressive, it's something pretty much everyone else does. But I personally hate breakfast and consider it to be the worst meal of the day.
Since I was a kid, I've eaten my first meal around lunchtime, but it's not for a lack of want. I've tried forming a healthy breakfast-eating habit numerous times and failed, much to my mother's chagrin.
However, I decided to try again and start the new year off right by challenging myself to eat breakfast every morning for a week.
According to a dietitian, in order to do this right, I have to eat balanced morning meals
As someone who, ironically, loves breakfast food and typically eats a veggie-filled omelet for dinner, I set some ground rules for this challenge.
First, I have to eat breakfast before 11 a.m. every day to consider this a success. And, to hold myself accountable, I've also elected to eat at least one food item every morning, as opposed to choosing a sugar-filled juice or smoothie.
Before starting my week-long endeavor, I spoke with Boston-based registered dietitian Leslie Rosenbruch about the importance of balanced morning eating habits.
"Consuming a breakfast high in refined carbohydrates, such as a sugar-sweetened cereal, leaves us feeling hungry soon after consumption," she said. "It is best to consume a balanced meal to assist in managing appetite and hunger levels."
Rosenbruch emphasized that a balanced breakfast consists of protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
For example, a slice of whole-grain bread, some ripe avocado slices, a handful of cherry tomatoes, and an egg would come together to create a balanced breakfast.
According to the dietitian, breakfast should be consumed within two hours of waking up and, for those who despise eating in the morning, she suggested starting small, consuming a hard-boiled egg, fruit with peanut butter, Greek yogurt, or a protein shake to wake up your metabolism.
The goal is to consume foods that provide "sustainable energy" that will ultimately help manage hunger levels and provide plenty of nutrition.
With Rosenbruch's advice in mind, I began my week-long breakfast journey.
Day 1: For my first breakfast, I stuck to something small but balanced
Hesitant to bombard my stomach with heavy foods, I started my week-long breakfast challenge with a strawberry nondairy yogurt topped with a sliced banana alongside a cup of freshly brewed coffee.
After eating breakfast around 10 a.m., I found I wasn't really hungry for lunch until 1 p.m., and I ended up waiting until closer to 2 p.m. before digging into my second meal of the day.
Day 2: I tried out a bigger breakfast, and it backfired a little
I had a bit of extra time in the morning, so I decided to make breakfast for myself.
I made an egg-and-cheese sandwich on a lightly toasted English muffin and added a few splashes of hot sauce.
I served this protein-filled breakfast with fresh coffee, and I almost immediately regretted the choices I made.
Although it had a healthy amount of carbs and protein and a smattering of good fat from the egg, my breakfast was lacking fiber and could've done with some added fat from an avocado.
Perhaps that's why I found myself snacking shortly after finishing breakfast.
Day 3: Meal-prepping ended up being perfect for my lazy morning routine
For the third morning, I roughly followed this recipe from Once Upon a Chef, replacing her recommended apples with Granny Smiths and leaving out the nuts, raisins, vanilla extract, and baking powder (because I didn't have any of these ingredients and it was below freezing outside).
After about 45 minutes in the oven, my baked breakfast was ready, and it was worth the wait.
With plenty of fiber and protein, this baked apple oatmeal was exactly the warm morning food you want to eat on a cold winter day.
It was also massive, so I saved the remainder of it in the fridge for later in the week.
Unlike other breakfast meals I've had so far, the apple oatmeal kept me full and satisfied for nearly five hours - a true feat for someone like me who always finds themselves snacking throughout the day.
Days 4,5, and 6: I ended up repeating some of my previous breakfasts
The next three days I found myself repeating breakfast foods.
On day four, I enjoyed an egg-and-cheese sandwich. But I learned from my previous mistake and added a banana to this meal for added fiber.
Unfortunately, I was out of avocado and sacrificed extra "good fats" once again.
On day five, I elected to eat my baked oatmeal cold with a glass of lemon water. I find that drinking lemon water in the mornings typically makes me feel better than if I drink coffee first-thing, although it didn't really pair well with my meal.
On the penultimate day of my breakfast challenge, I ate the apple oatmeal again.
This time, I paired the oatmeal bake with a black-cherry coconut yogurt for some added protein. I also slathered some sunflower-seed butter on top for even more protein as well as some fat.
Day 7: I ended the week on a bit of a low, but I still managed to eat
For the final day of the breakfast challenge, I had a blueberry coconut yogurt and a cup of black tea.
I wanted to make something more filling for the grand finale, but time was against me when I woke up 30 minutes after my alarm went off.
By the end of the challenge, I wasn't so anti-breakfast anymore
I'm happy the challenge is over because I won't be forced to gobble down food before fleeing my house, but I ultimately learned a valuable lesson: Breakfast is an important part of the day.
It might not be my favorite meal, but I have a newfound appreciation for it.
In the past, eating early in the morning would leave me with painful stomachaches and nausea, so I skipped it altogether. But this week, I ate slowly and found that having breakfast helped me feel full longer and snack a little less throughout the day.
I also learned that prepping breakfast meals in advance can make eating in the mornings a lot easier. For someone like me, who doesn't qualify as an early bird, meal-prepping breakfast the night before, or stocking up on easy-to-grab breakfast foods makes all the difference.
Bonus: I have started to make more balanced breakfasts for myself on the weekends
I'm still not totally adjusted to eating full-fledged meals before noon, but I've committed to making well-balanced breakfasts on the weekend.
Taking Rosenbruch's suggestion, I've come to fancy Saturday morning scrambled eggs with cherry tomatoes and sliced avocado.
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