MISHAWAKA If you don't eat breakfast, experts say you should. The first meal of the day jumpstarts the metabolism and helps revive the body of nutrients. Really, it's all in the name: "break," "fast."
"Breakfast is one, if not the most important meal of the day," said Edie Sutton, an extension educator at Purdue University Extension. "One of the reasons is you haven't eaten for about 8 hours, our body needs that nutrients to think well, to perform correctly. It gives us that boost to start the day."
Not everyone has time to devote to dishing up a gourtmet or sit-down meal. So, we asked the experts, is it better to eat something sugary or skip it?
"It's more important to have something to eat than nothing at all," said Sutton. "If you don't eat breakfast, mid-morning you're sluggish, you're starving, and so what you tend to grab is something quick and it's usually high fat, high sugar, high salt."
It turns out, breakfast can help you avoid making bad decisions later in the day. But, what if all you have time for is a granola bar or sugary pastry?
"The misconception is breakfast has to consist of eggs and some kind of meat, toast," said Sutton. "That's not true."
Another issue for many, is the price of quality ingredients like produce. Many people argue it's cheaper to buy something quick, like a box of fruit roll-ups, when they go on sale.
"The thing we need to look at is the price per pound," said Sutton. "So, when I figure this [box of snacks] up, it comes to around $7 per pound. Now, we can pick up quite a bit of fruit for $7 for a pound. Bananas 50 cents a pound, an apple you can get 3 pounds for $5. So you are getting more nutrients for your dollar, if you pick the fresh fruit. Don't look at the large [sale] price, look at the price, in this case, it's price per ounce."
A common stop for many grocery shoppers is the cereal aisle, but as anyone who has been there knows, it can be confusing and overwhelming. Sutton says there are tricks to navigating the breakfast aisle.
"It used to be that the sweeter cereals were on eye level, now it tends to be that the sweeter cereals are in the middle, and the less sugary cereals tends to be on the end."
For parents looking to find alternative options to cereal or quick picks in the breakfast aisle, Sutton has some solutions.
-Waffles: substitute syrup with peanut butter and fruit.
-Smoothies: can include multiple parts of diet like fruit, dairy and protein.
-Leftovers: even pizza can be breakfast, as long as you pair it with milk or another protein and a fruit or vegetable. Sutton calls this a "sometimes food."
Sutton suggests using the "My Plate" reference when considering what to eat. "My Plate" has the portion size for the five categories of food we should include in our diets. Those are fruits, vegetables, protein, grains and dairy.
"If we think of the my plate, [these are the] types of food we should have on our plate," said Sutton. "For breakfast, just think of three groups."
As you navigate through the grocery store, here are some final points to make sure you pick the best breakfast for your family. Sutton says, read the labels.
"We like to find cereals that are at least five grams of fiber. Get used to reading the food label because you only want 30% of your calories to come from fat. Also, the first product that is listed under the ingredients, there's more of that than anything else in the product," said Sutton.