Home Q&A Wednesday Q&A Wednesday: Breakfast At Erika’s

Q&A Wednesday: Breakfast At Erika’s

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Q: like many i’m sure, i end up eating a grab n go breakfast. which is why i tend to eat boxed cereal – but then i’m hungry again right after i eat it. however, i’d like to transition over to REAL FOOD for breakfast. but with one kid, a kid on the way, and work, i’m ALWAYS pressed for time. how can i get the “grab n go” and the “filling” and “real” all in one (emphasis on grab n go, seriously). or, be honest with me, do i just need to make more time in the mornings to cook and sit and eat (i’d be in trouble then)?

Q: do I HAVE to eat breakfast? I keep seeing people say to eat breakfast like a king and dinner like a pauper to lose weight, but does that make sense?

scrambled eggs, radishes, onion and tarragon

If you guys are going to start answering your own questions in the questions you send to me, you’re gonna put the Q&A Wednesday out of commission!

Or maybe I’m just that predictable in what I’m going to say?

Well, I’m throwin’ a curveball today. I’ll tell you this: it depends.

Am I a rise-and-eater? No. I’ve usually been up for a few hours before I have my first meal of the day. I’ve got dogs to walk, a future hubby to help get ready for work, a kindergartner (!) to get ready for school, and a world to save all before most people have had their morning potty break. There are lots of caveats to that, though. It doesn’t affect your metabolism, it doesn’t turn you into a ravenous anger bomb, and the world doesn’t implode if you wait for breakfast. That’s not the question, but I think it’s important to look at the question from other angles, too.

You’ll also have to remember that I advocate for anyone starting out on clean eating and moving away from processed foods to eat on a 6-meal-a-day plan, because it helps them learn to understand their bodies better – specifically the “hunger pangs.” What do I mean by that? I mean that anyone who struggles with overeating because they’re trying to starve themselves (or, simply, from eating bad foods and finding themselves starving right after) should go to a plan with eating fruits, veggies and a quality protein six times a day to help them separate themselves from not only hunger pangs, but the ravenous behavior that we’ve developed as a habit in response to it.

Think about it – we skip that first meal of the day. It is now noon, we haven’t eaten since 6PM the previous day and now we’re starving. What’s the first thing you dash off for? A bag of nasty fries, a greasy burger with a disgustingly sweet bun, and a 20oz of pop. (I’m from the midwest. It’s pop, thank you very much.) No one’s rushing to the broccoli. No one’s making a mad dash for brussels sprouts. No one’s going HAM on the cauliflower. It’s just… not happening.

I don't even remember what the hell he put in this.. I just know it was GOOD.

So, if the question is “Can I skip breakfast?” then I’d have to say “It’s more about your response to skipping breakfast than it is the breakfast, itself.” If you’re pigging out because you can’t wait a few hours of the day before you have your first meal, then for goodness sakes respect what your body is telling you – which sounds an awful lot like “I can’t handle that!” – and get up a half hour earlier to sit down to eat.

Now, regarding what to eat? That’s a little trickier.

First of all, I don’t eat anything hyper-processed in the morning… or ever. Cereals are notorious for having not only ludicrous amounts of sugar but absolutely no quality products of nutrients in them… partially because the only thing that was once remotely food in them is the “whole grain” they keep touting. All most of those cereals consist of is simply grain and 345,348,934,897 variations of sugar (at least 3 tablespoons per half cup, it seems) to make those grains more palatable.

Your first meal of the day, regardless of whatever time of day it takes place, needs to be something substantial. It’s “break fast” because it’s “breaking your morning fast,” with the “fast” being the amount of time between your last meal and your next. Going twelve hours without eating is a fast, and you have to be meticulous in breaking it. To me, that means protein and fiber.

Can you get that in a cereal? Sure, but at what cost? What do the ingredients look like? How much sugar is in it? You can just as easily make your own cereal for cheaper than the true “healthy cereals” run and save yourself stress and money. Grab a super-nutty trail mix (for example – one of my favorite mixes has raisins, almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, cashews, and the occasional macadamia nut chunk), 4 or 5 cups of toasted oats (feel free to use steel cut, or the oatmeal we all know), 2 tablespoons of nutmeg and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Mix all of that up – super thoroughly – and store it in a giant container. (If you can fit it in the fridge, that’d be ideal. The nuts are high in protein, the grains are high in fiber, the entire recipe is low in sugar and moderate enough in carbs to help you get through the day without the ravenous feeling.

I also cook eggs for breakfast. Some days I feel like an egg white omelet… some days I feel like scrambling my eggs with some veggies inside. Other days, I let the chef of the house – otherwise known as the future hubby – play in the kitchen (he’s not gonna like how I put that) and make twenty-star dishes that blow my little raggedy eggs out of the water. (Bet you know which eggs on the page are mine and which are his, though.) Some days, I don’t feel like bothering with skillets at all and just eat fruit for breakfast.

And, really, get it out of your head that “studies have shown, that for breakfast…” because “scientists” have fallen off both sides of that horse for years now, depending upon whether the cereal industry (read: the pro-carbs breakfast camp) or the meat industry (read: the pro-protein camp) sponsored them. Listen to your body and your schedule.

So, to answer both questions, you have to do what I’ve always said – listen to your body and fit your schedule accordingly. Do you have a busy morning where you know you run out of energy if you don’t get in something to keep you going? Do you know that if you skip eating before you leave the house that you’ll go hard in the pasta paint at the lunch cafe? Then make your schedule according to your current needs and lifestyle, and make sure that you include eating where it belongs. If you have to wake up a half hour earlier just so you can have some scrambled eggs and grapefruit (which is what I’m slammin’ down right now), then get up a half hour earlier and let no man, child or pet (pets in my case) separate you from your breakfast time. Set aside time for you – and the family – to eat right. If that means getting up a half hour earlier to take care of everything else so the family can eat with you, then so be it. The important part, here, is to make sure you are listening to what your body needs and giving to it accordingly.

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rissa December 21, 2011 - 12:18 PM

Erika, LOVE LOVE LOVE the post. people were always telling me i need to eat within an hour of waking up. most times if I do that, i get a terrible stomach ache, and that’s oh so lovely first thing in the am. I’ve found that I like to sometime between 9 and 10. and thanks for the homemade breakfast cereal suggestion.

for the young lady who asked about a quick breakfast in the morning, i am not a morning person AT ALL. that whole wake up early to make breakfast doesn’t work with me. what i’ve done and i need to do more often is make quiche. you put it in what you want. it can contain all the protein, good fats, and veggies that you need so you’ll also feel full. you can make them in individual cupcake tins or make a pie and cut it up. I’ll grab a slice, throw in the microwave and literally eat it out of a napkin in the car if necessary.

Ti December 21, 2011 - 12:18 PM

i’m a huge fan of eggs and vegetables — either combined or one on top of another. i made string beans in a mango sauce topped with poached eggs a few mornings ago. awesome.

but more to the point, for anyone that doesn’t have time to eat breakfast at home, please take the time to eat it when you get to your destination. i keep oatmeal, fruit, and turkey meatballs in the fridge at work and eat breakfast when i get here and settled if i can’t eat at home.

Savannah December 21, 2011 - 12:24 PM

I def try to eat SOMETHING within the first two hours that I wake up. It’s usually fresh squeezed fruit and vegetable juice and a piece of fruit, or just fruit, or some leftovers from the night before that I can eat with my hands quickly. That way I’m not ravenous when I get to work. Once at work I eat y actual breakfast, usually veggies and scrambled eggs, oatmeal or quinoa with fruit. Making sure that I have a little something before I head out heads off the ‘OMGIamsohungrythatI’mgoingtoeateverythinginsight’ feeling that happens if I’ve been up since 4 am but don’t eat til 9 am.

Jacqueline Stallworth December 21, 2011 - 2:01 PM

I eat as soon as I get up, normally old fashioned oatmeal with blueberries or with raisins and a protein shake. Without breakfast, I am sluggish and will eat all day. If I get to work, and I have had breafast, I am ready to go and get them without the help of caffeine.

On Saturdays and Sunday, I do the egg white omelet that I cook, or I get it from wholefoods.

I won’t leave home without my breakfast.

Dre_Divah December 21, 2011 - 3:20 PM

Love the post! But I am mainly commenting to say congrats on the “future hubby” girl go head! I am still dropping pounds thanks to your site! 24w to 14w as of last week 🙂 Take care!

Erika Nicole Kendall December 21, 2011 - 3:26 PM

Congrats ME? Congrats YOU!


Nichelle Johnson March 28, 2012 - 5:41 PM

A W E S O M E and very encouraging. Thank you for sharing.

LaDonna December 21, 2011 - 4:18 PM

I’ve been doing the oatmeal with pure maple syrup and 2% milk. Takes 2 minutes in the microwave and it is nice to have something warm to eat in the winter.

atribitt December 21, 2011 - 7:10 PM

this is so helpful. LOVE the quiche idea. sounds like i need to PLAN breakfast, so that i can “grab n go”. not just wake up and think “what is there to eat?” i’m learning, i’m learning!

Stefanie December 23, 2011 - 8:50 PM

Very well written and thought provoking post!

milaxx December 28, 2011 - 2:19 PM

I ease into breakfast and what I eat depends on what my day is like. I had to learn to eat breakfast because I was one of those people who could not ear all day and then justify eating everything that didn’t move at 10pm by saying I was making up for missed meals.

Still breakfast was a challenge so I started simple. Wake up, drink a glass of water, if I’m not too hungry and handful of nuts and then maybe some fruit an hour later. I gradually got to where if I wasn’t that hungry I could eat a hardboiled egg, greek yogurt or oatmeal if I wasn’t very hungry. Once I started taking a morning water aerobic class I needed to have something on my stumach or I got the shakes afterwards. Still not being a big breajfast eater I started making protein shakes using vegan protein powder. Now I just toss, yogurt or almond milk, fruit or almond butter and a bit of flax powder into the blender and drink. After a workout I am starving, so I usually go for an omelet or scrambled eggs, usually with fruit and homefries or roasted potatoes (white, sweet or purple if I can find em.) Non early workout days vary; I may eat yogurt, a hardboiled egg, oatmeal or grits. I still try to drink a glass of water when I wake up. I don’t drink coffee because of chronic insomnia, but I may have herbal tea on occasion.

I have to say since I started eating better I eat much better. I rarely get to that starvation point where I can think straight enough to make a sensible food choice.

milaxx December 28, 2011 - 2:24 PM

2 good grab and go meals are; hardboiled eggs of course. I boil several at the beginning of the week. But you can also make grab and go breakfast using cupcake or muffin tins. I’ve made mini quiche, sliced potato really thin, lined the muffin tin, added a bit of veg, and topped with an egg and baked til done. If it’s sitting in the fridge pre-cooked, you can grab it, heat it up in the microwave and be on your way.

Annette February 3, 2012 - 7:49 AM

I have tried eggs yet go right back to having Hot Oat Bran Cereal cause I need the fiber for digestion. I know cereal don’t fill you up as much but I add blueberry that seems to help my cravings. It’s kinda tanggy. Or I add Flax milled/ground to add fiber and also add walnuts, or sometimes I add almonds.

Cereal is not enough you need a strong nutritious protein so I add nuts and raisins to it and for now it’s working.

Keidre February 22, 2012 - 3:32 PM

Hi Erika!
I LOVE this post because just this morning I had my own breakfast revelation! This morning I made a scramble consisting of 2 egg, 1/4 cup of cherry tomatoes, 1/4 cup of chopped onion, 1/4 cup of asparagus, and 1/4 cup of spinach. (That’s a lot of quarters!) I seasoned it with salt, pepper, and parsley. It took all of 7 minutes to prepare.
I’m doing Weight Watchers, and all of that is only 4 points. Now on WW, a cup of Cheerios and a 1/3 cup of 2% milk is 5 points, and Wheat Chex and 2% is 7 points! Crazy! I left the breakfast table with my tummy and taste buds satisfied, and stayed satisfied for longer than I would have on a bowl of Cheerios.

Now, I know how you feel about Weight Watchers, but I think the point is to learn better habits, rather than just following a restrictive plan. Through it I’m learning that if I prepare my own food, I can eat more than I could out of boxes and bags. I can’t think of a day yet that I have been hungry, and the pounds are coming off.
Anyway, as I start my fitness journey, I’m realizing that eating well is not the sacrifice that we often think it is.

MissCSE December 27, 2012 - 10:47 AM

I was a Weight Watcher member too and I had the start of my weight loss success with them. I had the same revelation as you did and I think that’s what they expect you to do. Kinda smart. I left them after I had my revelation lol. It’s a great program for beginners that need help better understanding nutrition. They dropped the ball for me because I wanted to know more about macronutrients not just what they’re telling me to eat. I needed a why. Guess that’s why I’m going into nutrition now… lol. Good luck on WW journey =)

Nichelle Johnson March 28, 2012 - 5:45 PM

On my good days, I do Greek Yogurt and fresh blueberries as soon as I get to work. An hour or two later I have a piece of fruit and a cup of tea. It has helped me to do better at lunch time.

erigirl October 24, 2012 - 5:05 PM

Erika, you are so incredibly WRONG for posting pics and not offering any recipes. Especially for whatever it is your fiance made. It looks so delicious, I NEED TO KNOW WHAT IS IN THAT!

Erika Nicole Kendall October 25, 2012 - 6:04 PM

LMAO! Look up huevos rancheros!

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