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Healthy Bites Challenge: Eat breakfast daily

Focused on Health - January 2013

by Adelina Espat

Take on this first challenge in the Healthy Bites series. Armando Morin did it. And, so can you!

breakfast, challenge“Skipping breakfast is never a good idea,” says Mary Ellen Herndon, a wellness dietitian at MD Anderson and the Healthy Bites challenge coach.

Starting your day with a healthy breakfast can help you make healthier choices all day long. Plus, a healthy breakfast helps your body get the nutrients it needs to work and fight off diseases like cancer.

A healthy breakfast includes four things:

  1. Protein, like non-fat yogurt or an egg
  2. Whole grains, like whole grain cereal or oatmeal
  3. Fruits and/or vegetables
  4. Healthy fats, like sunflower seeds or chopped nuts

Meet Armando, our Healthy Bites challenge champ

breakfast, healthy“I joined the Healthy Bites challenge because I want to make healthier food choices, cut down on drinking and lose some body fat,” says Armando Morin, a 36 year-old, single dad.

Weekdays are Armando’s “healthy days,” as far as he’s concerned. He runs seven miles a day, Monday through Friday. He typically eats veggie soup and a salad or sandwich for lunch, and chicken and green beans for dinner.

“Weekends are my downfall,” Armando says. “I usually tell people I work out to enjoy my weekends. That’s when I go out to eat Mexican food, and drink beer or margaritas.”

Armando takes on breakfast

“After learning about Armando’s eating habits, I just knew the breakfast challenge would be ideal for him,” says Mary Ellen. “I challenged Armando to eat breakfast every day for one month.”

Because of his busy work schedule, Armando only ate breakfast two or three times a week.

“I often skipped breakfast so I could eat more calories in the evening,” Armando says. “I also didn’t have enough time to prepare or buy breakfast.”

“I told Armando that eating breakfast may seem like a very small change,” says Mary Ellen. “But research shows that making small changes, like this one, can lead to bigger diet changes over time and better health.”

Armando’s breakfast advice

breakfast, challenge“The biggest thing I noticed about this challenge is that when I ate breakfast, I wasn’t starving when lunch time came and didn’t have to eat a big meal,” Armando says. “And, it kept me full so that I wasn’t snacking on stuff all-day long.”

Armando offers this advice:

  • Plan ahead: “Making a weekly breakfast menu is a good idea. When you’ve got a plan, you can buy all the breakfast foods you need before your week starts. That way, you’ll have one less excuse to skip breakfast.”
  • Prepare the night before: “Time was a big issue for me, especially on mornings when I woke up late. So, preparing breakfast the night before is a huge time-saver – even if it’s just having your cereal and milk already laid out. You want to make breakfast as easy as possible.”
  • Make to-go meals: “Some mornings, stopping to eat breakfast was not an option. This is when planning ahead really helps. I’d keep a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole-wheat bread in the fridge, so I could just grab-and-go.”
  • Dine-out healthy: “It’s hard to always be prepared for breakfast. So, when I have to buy breakfast at work, I try to choose healthy options from our cafeteria, like an egg white taco with turkey sausage.”  

“I still don’t eat breakfast every day. Some days I just don’t wake up hungry,” Armando says. “But because of this challenge, I am eating breakfast more often. My goal is to work up to eating breakfast all seven days!”

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