Take charge of your health. Sign up for HealthyWomen newsletters:

Healthy Living

By Sheryl Kraft

Share on:

I'll bet you grew up hearing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I, for one, agree with that. Think about it: Are there any other times of the day when your stomach is deprived of food for so many hours? After sleeping for 7 or 8 hours (hopefully, you're getting a good night's rest), your stomach is begging for some attention.

Yet, many people are skipping breakfast for various reasons. Maybe you want to lose weight and find it easy to eliminate that one meal. Warning: It doesn't work and will usually backfire.

Chances are that by mid-morning, you'll be starving and will make up the extra calories—and then some—by eating more throughout the day. If you don't believe me, the National Weight Loss Control Registry reports that among "successful losers"—the people who have maintained a weight loss of 30 or more pounds for at least a year—most report eating breakfast every day. Other research finds that people who are regular breakfast eaters are also likely to exercise regularly, and that women who are breakfast eaters tended to consume fewer calories overall throughout the day.

There are people who say they're just not hungry in the morning. Or they roll out of bed, hit the ground running and have no time to eat.

When I told a friend of mine (who is a member of the breakfast-haters club) that I had found an easy, nutritious recipe for oatmeal, she was dubious—until I told her that is something she can prepare in advance and actually hold in her hand and take with her. I'd become bored with my usual breakfasts and needed to shake things up.

Besides, when away at the Golden Door last week and served a beautiful breakfast of steaming hot oatmeal one morning, I was reminded of how much I miss it. It's low in fat, high in fiber and filled with essential vitamins and minerals.

I adapted this recipe from one I found a while ago at MayoClinic.com. I finally made it the other night, reheating a portion of it for breakfast the next morning. It's really yummy—you may even be tempted to cut off a square and have it for dessert!

Oatmeal Squares
Serves 8

1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
1/3 cup brown sugar
Egg substitute equivalent to 2 eggs, or 4 egg whites
3 cups uncooked rolled oats
1 cup raisins
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup skim or low-fat milk

In a large bowl, stir together oil, applesauce, extract, sugar and eggs. Mix in oats, raisins, baking powder, cinnamon and milk. Spray a 9-by-13 baking pan with cooking spray. Spoon mixture into pan. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Now that I've (hopefully) convinced you to eat breakfast, let me go one step further. If you're on the road and find yourself unable to make a home-cooked breakfast, don't fret. As much as I detest fast food, sometimes it is just plain necessary. Here are some healthy breakfast options. They're not perfect, since some tend to be a bit high in fat or sodium, but they are better than skipping breakfast altogether or eating the wrong thing:
Cosi – Spinach Florentine Breakfast Wrap
Starbucks – Protein Artisan Snack Plate
Jamba Juice – Berry Topper Ideal Meal
Au Bon Pain – Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Denny's – Scrambled Egg Whites, Chicken Sausage and Fruit
Dunkin' Donuts – Egg White Turkey Sausage Wake-Up Wrap
Subway – Western Egg White & Cheese Muffin Melt
Panera Bread – Breakfast Power Sandwich (to cut the sodium, order it without the smoked ham)

Subscribe to Midlife Matters by Email