Get Off to a Healthy Start
Everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? The reasons why vary and the choices of what you eat for breakfast makes all the differences. If sugary cereals or frosted pastries are your go-to morning starters, you could argue the validity of that being the smartest way to start your day.
A walk down your grocery‘s store grocery store's cereal aisle can be confusing and overwhelming. The marketing messaging on the front of cereal boxes is one of the best examples of the power of persuasion in our culture. Package design of cereal boxes is a key reason that cereals still take up a full aisle. Companies constantly redesign packages and add phrases such as "high fiber", “gluten-free” or “low sugar” hoping we will add their products to our carts.
Be certain to make choices based on information found of the nutrition facts on the label versus the marketing ploys on the front of the box. This is where you find how truly healthy a product is. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, who ran the Battle Creek Sanitarium, is credited for inventing breakfast cereal. Kellogg was an avid vegetarian and wanted to develop a ready-to-eat meal based on cereal grains to replace the heavy meat breakfast of the late 1800s. He also wanted something to help provide better digestive health to his wellness customers.
Once cereal became popular, companies competing for sales. In effort to improve flavor, they began to refine the grains and add sugar. Over time, cereal has become a prime source of added sugar in our diets.
Cereal can be a healthy choice for breakfast or a snack if you choose one that is 100 percent whole-grain, high in fiber and low in sugar. Choose cereals that have less than 7 grams of sugar and at least 5 grams of fiber. Stick to the portion size listed. For many cereals, that's only one-half cup. Look for the whole-grain symbol on the package or "bran" in the list of ingredients.
In the 1990s, cereal sales peaked. With the increased popularity of low-carb diets, sales of breakfast items like yogurt and breakfast bars have increased throughout the years. Cereal companies have worked overtime to make cereal more appealing to consumers by using whole grains, less sugar and creating healthier breakfast options.
Healthy cereal also provides nutrients that many of are often deficient in. These include magnesium, zinc and selenium. Your body runs better when fueled with adequate amounts of these nutrients. They are found in whole-grain products such as whole wheat, oats, brown rice and others. You should get at least 48 grams of whole grains each day.
Use breakfast to start meeting your day’s goal of protein and fruit. A breakfast that includes cereal will be more filling and more healthful if it also includes a little protein and some fruit. Adding milk provides some protein, but Greek yogurt adds more. Considering using it in your cereal instead of milk. Fresh, dried or frozen fruit can easily be added to your cereal to meet the requirement of consuming two or more cups of fruit a day.
Doctor, Dietitian or Nutritionist?
If you are someone who is in need of learning how to use food to live a healthier life, your doctor may not be the only stop you need to make. Several worldwide studies have shown medical students are starved of nutrition and obesity education. For example, a study published in Academic Medicine found that in 2008-2009 only 27% of 105 medical schools met the minimum 25 required hours of nutrition education set by the National Academy of Sciences, which was actually down from 38% in 2004 (40 out of 104 schools based on another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition). This number went down while the obesity epidemic went up. On average, new medical school graduates could answer only 52% of the nutritional questions.
Packed medical school curriculum, medical education can feel like drinking from a fire hose on maximum flow. Medical students need free time to do things like sleep and bathe. The argument is that medical students can’t learn everything, so some things get less attention. However, not teaching about the nutrients patients put in their mouths everyday and one of the biggest health problems in the world makes little sense. Many argue that obesity and nutrition education should replace much of the minutiae taught in medical school.
Many doctors assume that nutritionists and dietitians will be available to help, that insurance companies will cover their assistance and that patients will follow-up with that extra step. The current obesity epidemic, in addition to uptick of diseases that could be reversed by healthy eating simply proves that this scenario is predominately not the case. Perhaps nutritionists or dietitians are available in some hospitals and clinics, but not all. Plus, unless a doctor and a dietitian decide to partner together, there will be many times that a doctor must make nutrition-related decisions without a dietitian.
Nutritionists and dietitians aim to assist in a person's journey to reaching optimal health through food and nutrition. Moreover, increased familiarity with nutrition will facilitate conversations with nutritionists and dietitians. In fact, many doctors strive to become nutrition and diet experts. Medical schools should help the next generation of doctors reach this position. Finally, obesity goes well beyond nutrition. Diet affects obesity, but so does physical activity and other things such as the environment, economics and metabolism. Together, doctors, nutritionists and dietitians can help patients take control of their health with sensible eating habits and diet choices.
We are in the midst of a global obesity epidemic. Obesity can also lead to so many different diseases, ranging from diabetes to cardiovascular disease to cancer to many mental health issues. Changing your diet could help prevent as well as treat many different diseases. Ask your doctor for information or seek information from a nutritionist or dietitian today. Healthy eating isn’t about being “skinny”; it is about giving your body the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and strong.