Cranky? Mood Swings? Your Breakfast May Be The Cause

Pear, Tomato, Avocado, Egg, Almonds, Nectarine

The combination of fruits (or whole grains), protein and healthy fats are long-lasting mood boosters for your breakfast meal.

I wonder if this ever happens in your house. We are big believers in a healthy breakfast so the kids sat down this morning to warmed corn tortillas filled with shredded mozzarella and mushrooms with some sliced strawberries on the side. Hubby and I ran around getting ready while the kids ate and chatted. Everyone was in the car at 7:30am. School drop off, short commute to work, made my 8:30am meeting. Was super cranky at 10am. I wonder why. Oh yes, I forgot to eat breakfast. Sigh.

September is National Breakfast Month and it’s an important reminder that breakfast is vital for kids, adolescents and adults. Breakfast literally means to break our fast – we have not eaten since we went to sleep the night before and our metabolism needs a wake up burst from a morning meal. Breakfast not only gives you energy to start a new day but is also associated with many health benefits including weight control, improved performance and more stable moods throughout the day.

Studies show that eating a healthy breakfast can help improve concentration and focus in the classroom or the workplace. There is a good reason that the National School Breakfast Program was started. The research showed that kids who ate breakfast were more productive learners during the day. They also showed better hand-eye coordination on the playground. Those benefits apply equally to adults even if the learning venue looks different!

Many studies, in both adults and children, have shown that breakfast eaters tend to weigh less than non breakfast eaters. Some people skip breakfast in an attempt to reduce calories but the research shows that eating breakfast can actually reduce hunger levels throughout the day and help people make more balanced food choices at other meals.

The benefits seem to be greater for healthy breakfast eaters, as a sugary/fatty breakfast may actually decrease energy levels and increase cravings for unhealthy foods later in the day. But the research does seem to show that a less than optimally healthy breakfast is better than no breakfast at all. However, a sugary breakfast of sweetened cereal or eating bread products made of white flour such as pancakes or bagels can leave you hungry an hour later, and probably cranky and craving caffeine to boot. Healthy breakfasts will stabilize your blood sugar and help you avoid those mood roller-coasters.

So what should we be eating for breakfast?

Like other meals and snacks, it is ideal to include a balance of high fiber carbohydrates (like whole grains, fruits and veggies), lean protein (like scrambled eggs, tofu or plain yogurt) and healthy fats (like avocado, nut butters or sunflower seeds). The combination will help to keep you satisfied for 3-4 hours so you don’t find yourself at the vending machine at 11am.

Even if you are rushing around in the morning like I am, there are lots of quick and nutritious options to grab:

  • Smoked salmon on a whole wheat English muffin with cherry tomatoes on the side
  • Two hardboiled eggs with some whole grain crackers and a banana
  • Fruit salad topped with plain yogurt and sprinkled with nuts
  • Make and freeze whole grain pancakes – toast the pancakes, spread with sunflower seed butter and top with berries
  • Zing bar and a piece of fruit – one of the quickest options!

Take the September Breakfast Month challenge with me – let’s focus on eating healthy breakfasts and enjoying the accompanying health benefits. Let me know your favorite breakfast ideas too.

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