“I like breakfast-time better than any other moment in the day. No dust has settled on one's mind then, and it presents a clear mirror to the rays of things.” - George Eliot
Breakfast, the most important meal of the day! And also the most skipped. Society has normalized the “coffee for breakfast” routine, but I am happy to see that this trend is on its way out, and more people are embracing the idea of starting their day with a nourishing meal. This is especially important for those of us in ED recovery. There is a reason most meal plans call for 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day. This not only serves an important function for your physical body, but also keeps your hunger and fullness at baseline throughout the day, avoiding those “peaks and valleys”, which is where those pesky urges pop up, and when we are more vulnerable to behavior use. Rule Number One: eat within an hour of waking up and every 3-4 hours from then on. Your meal plan acts as a manual reset for those hunger and fullness cues, and skipping breakfast is the best way to throw those off.
That being said, there are reasons breakfast is so often skipped. One being lack of appetite first thing in the morning. I always use my cat Simon as an example for this. Before I moved to NYC he was on a strict 6:00am breakfast schedule. He became so accustomed to it that I wouldn’t even have to set an alarm because he would meow in my face at 6:00am (on the dot!) to let me know it was breakfast time. But when I moved, my new schedule allowed me to sleep in to a whopping 7:00am, so Simon’s breakfast time got pushed back an hour as I continued snoozing. At first, he was not happy about waiting an extra hour to eat, but within a week or two he got used to the new schedule. Last time I checked, cats can’t tell time, but it was his body (his hunger cues!) letting him know it was time to eat. I now have my trusty 7:00am meowing alarm clock set daily. The point of this story is to illustrate how the body responds to the information it is given. You may not have those early morning hunger cues right now, but if you follow your meal plan, those cues will soon show up and be aligned with your body’s nutritional needs. It’s like magic!
The second reason people struggle with breakfast is due to lack of planning, sleeping in, and rushing out the door. For this reason, easy breakfasts are a recovering person’s best friend. And my personal favorite grab-and-go breakfast is none other than Overnight Oats. You can whip these up the night before, they are simple, they have all the meal components you need (carbs, protein, fats, oh my!), and they are a fun and easy way to experiment with new ingredients in a familiar way. In the recipe below you will notice I avoided using exact measurements; this is one of those recipes in which estimates work just fine, so don’t stress it and work those eyeballing skills!
Prep time: 10 minutes
In an 8 oz. Mason jar put:
About 1 cup oats (can be rolled, old fashioned, or steel cut works great too! As long as they are not quick or instant oats you are fine)
About ¾ cup milk (cow’s, almond, oat, soy, whatever your heart desires!)
A dollop of Greek yogurt (get that protein baby!)
A few dashes of cinnamon
A nice long squirt of honey or maple syrup
2. Stir well, put on the lid and place it in the refrigerator overnight!
3. In the morning, add your toppings:
Fruit of your choice (bananas and blueberries are my fave)
A nice big dollop of any nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, even cookie butter!)
Other fun additions: chocolate chips, nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, dry fruit, cocoa powder, granola, vanilla extract
4. Enjoy! Don’t forget to check in with your RD to ensure this breakfast meets your meal plan. If not, you can grab a bigger container so you may more comfortably add another dollop of Greek yogurt or nut butter, as well as top with more granola or double the fruit!