Last week I started the Happy Plate series in celebration of National Nutrition Month. The theme for this year is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day” which encourages the development of a healthful eating plan that incorporates individual food choices and preferences.

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I'm Blogging National Nutrition Month

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and I am excited to share with you what The Happy Plate for Breakfast could look like and how incorporating this into your everyday routine can positively impact you and your family’s health and life. First, let’s review a few key facts in understanding why breakfast has been coined ‘the most important meal of the day’.

1. Breakfast is essential to wake up your metabolism
a. When we sleep our metabolism slows down and consumption of food is required   to speed it back up. Therefore, if you skip breakfast you miss several hours in which your body can burn more calories.
2. Eating breakfast can give your body the energy and nutrients it needs and this in turn has been shown to improve performance of individuals at school or work.
3. Although breakfast eaters consume more total energy per day they are more likely to have a healthy body weight and maintain it compared to breakfast skippers.
4. Skipping breakfast is associated with increased adiposity, higher BMI and increased obesity risk despite lower daily energy intakes.

The most consistent trait among my weight loss clientele is that they are breakfast skippers. For those that skip breakfast when they come for their initial consult they will often lose weight simply by incorporating breakfast before making any other significant changes. So, not only does the scientific evidence give proof to the importance of breakfast, but I have seen the same positive outcome with my clients.

Once you have conquered incorporating eating breakfast into your daily routine then you need to consider the components of your breakfast and learn how to get the most bang for your buck. To do this a variety of nutrient rich foods from the majority of the food groups are necessary. Here is the following order I recommend filling your plate:

1. Lean protein 3-5 ounces
2. Non starchy vegetable
3. Low-fat dairy
4. Whole fruit or 4 oz 100% juice
5. Modest portion of whole grains

This may look backwards as the typical American Breakfast is often focused around carbohydrate rich foods such as cereals, grains and fruit. And this is the very reason that the average American who does eat breakfast often hit a wall and feel hungry by mid-morning…they have run out of fuel. Lean protein is the key foundational piece of a Happy Plate that will provide sustainable energy. Adults should aim to consume 3-5 ounces of lean protein at breakfast in order to maximize your protein synthesis and muscle maintenance. Next, add flavor, texture, color and great nutrients and minimal calories by adding non-starchy vegetables such as peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli and much more. Then, drink a glass of skim milk for 10 additional essential nutrients including calcium, vitamin D and protein. Finally, cap off this enjoyable eating experience with a juicy piece of fresh fruit and a modest portion of whole grains.

Not only is this Happy Plate full of essential nutrients to fuel your body and get your day off to a great start, but the satisfaction of eating a Happy Plate is an enjoyable and memorable moment. I guess that is why I look forward to it each and every day and now it is even more fun to play around and find new and fun Happy Plate adventures with the kids for Breakfast before we run out the door to school and work.

Are you a breakfast skipper or a breakfast eater? What are some of your most successful Happy Plate creations you have accomplished during the work week?

Dr. Leheska
Dr. Leheska

Eggs in a hole  is a simple fun way to incorporate protein into your kids breakfast. For an added protein boost use leftover cinnamon-orange French toast as I did on the left.

Bridget and Mom’s Happy Plate creation
Bridget and Mom’s Happy Plate creation
Kilian was excited to demonstrate how his Happy Plate which he named a “cd radio player car” worked.
Kilian was excited to demonstrate how his Happy Plate which he named a “cd radio player car” worked.

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