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Breaking the fast

February 26, 2008 - Kathie Evanoff
We all know what that means.

It’s been said over and over again that we need to start our day with breakfast. By the time we wake up in the morning, we already have gone at least eight hours without fueling our bodies. If we wait until noon or later to have our first meal, we could very well be on our way to a hypoglycemic emergency.

Hypoglecmia, or low blood sugar, occurs when our body has used up all of its fuel and has nothing in storage to compensate. Simple sugars, like fruit juices or sugar-laden doughnuts and cookies can give us a sugar boost, but once that quick fix is used up, we hit bottom equally as quickly.

According to Drs. Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz, authors of the series of the “You” books on managing our bodies and our health, going without breakfast will cause our body to slow down its metabolism and work harder to store calories instead of burning them normally. Eating boosts metabolism, and we don’t have to eat a lot for our systems to begin the process of using that nutrition as fuel. If I don’t get breakfast in the morning, it isn’t long before I am foraging for something, often unhealthy, to get me through until lunch. If I wait all the way to lunch, it is too easy to grab fast food to try to curb that hunger instead of waiting for something more nutritious.

I have a new favorite breakfast; oatmeal. I went through my entire childhood and most of my adult life hating oats. I thought they were bland and slimey. I couldn’t understand how anyone could eat such a concoction so early in the morning.

In a previous blog I wrote that I was virtually raised on eggs. For years I would rather have an egg or two for breakfast instead of anything else. Now I find myself looking forward to morning so I can cook up a batch of old fashioned oats.

My husband has always been a fan of oatmeal. His favorite method of preparation is to cook a pot of five-minute oats, coat them with sugar, float them in milk and then spoon them up as though they were an epicurean delight. I’ve tried them this way, and perhaps this is why I had a hard time getting them down. That is not to say his way is wrong, it is just not to my liking.

I have found though that oats are very versatile, and I don’t mean just for baking in cookies. Oats can be mixed with bananas, peanut butter, berries, maple syrup and just about anything else that strikes our fancy. I like mine with chunks of banana and sprinkled with either walnuts or almonds. I also sprinkle on just a touch of Splenda or sugar, but otherwise, I prefer to let the fresh fruit do the sweetening.

But my tastes aren’t just limited to old fashioned oats. I also like rolled oats, steel cut or Irish oats, as well as instant oats, provided they don’t have an excess of sugar.

One serving, which is ½ cup of old fashioned oats, has 150 calories, 3 grams of fat, and only one gram of sugar. It also contains five grams of protein, and four grams of dietary fiber. In addition, when I have that bowl of oats in the morning, I don’t find myself feeling hungry before lunch, as I do when I have just a plain bowl of cold cereal.

After visiting the gym Monday morning, I had breakfast at my office of a package of low-sugar instant oats with chunks of banana and fresh blueberries. There was no need for a sweetener as these oats were sweet enough.

Breakfast held me well until lunch when I made a sliced turkey sandwich with whole grain bread and romaine lettuce with mustard. On the side I had a half cup of sugar free applesauce and a bowl of Sunday’s butternut squash and apple soup with a few crackers.

Dinner was the ultimate comfort food of three ounces of roast beef between whole wheat bread and gravy, along with potatoes and carrots in a thick, brown gravy. A salad on the side and a glass of milk was all I needed for the rest of the night.


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Breakfast: 1 ounce grains, 1 1/4 cup fruit; 30 discretionary calories