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Meal Timing and Frequency of Meals and Snacks for Optimal Health

It probably doesn’t surprise you that in today’s on-the-go, 24/7 world snacking is a way of life. In the early 1970’s meals made up 82% of adult calorie intake and snacks contributed 18%. Fast-forward to today, and meals make up 77% of calories while snacks contribute 23%.1 A recent study showed that healthy, non-shift-working adults eat an average of 4.2 to 10.5 times per day.2 The only time <1% of the people surveyed don’t eat is from 1am to 6am. Because the times of day and night that we eat affect our body’s circadian clock rhythm, which regulates all aspects of metabolism, meal timing can have serious implications for the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD), type 2 diabetes, and obesity.1

The American Heart Association (AHA) recently released a scientific statement that reviews the cardiometabolic health effects of specific eating patterns: skipping breakfast, intermittent fasting, number of daily eating occasions, and timing of meals and snacks.1 Here is what they found:

Breakfast:

The AHA defines breakfast as the first meal of the day eaten within 2 hours of waking up, typically somewhere between 5am and 10am. Fewer adults today eat breakfast, which coincides with the increase in obesity.1 Also, the Bogalusa Heart Study showed that 74% of breakfast skippers did not meet two-thirds of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamins and minerals compared with 41% of those who consumed breakfast.3 People who routinely skip breakfast are also more likely to have higher blood sugar levels and increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol levels. While there is an association between skipping breakfast and obesity, eating breakfast has a limited effect on weight loss, probably because people today tend to eat numerous times throughout the day and the total daily calorie intake and food choices have a greater impact on weight than breakfast alone.1

Take-away ideas:

  • Fit a balanced breakfast into your morning routine so that you consume more of the nutrients essential to good health.
    • For many families, breakfast can be a fun time to eat together when evenings are busy with after school activities and other events
    • Eat breakfast at work to free up time at home
    • Choose a healthy, balanced meal for your morning commute: whole grain toast with nut butter and a piece of fruit is quick, simple, delicious and nutritious
  • Save time by making breakfast the night before:
    • A smoothie with fat-free milk, plain Greek yogurt, or unflavored almond or soy milk; ½ cup fresh or frozen fruit, and 2 cups vegetables
    • Enjoy overnight oatmeal that you sweeten with fruit instead of sugar; add nuts or nut butter for more protein
    • Bake egg muffins on your day off, freeze in individual portions, and quickly reheat on busy work days

Defining lunch, dinner and snacks:

The AHA concludes that using time of day to define lunch and dinner isn’t appropriate because there are so many cultural differences.1 According to 2004 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 15 million Americans work full time on evening shift, night shift, rotating shifts, or other employer arranged irregular schedules that impact meal timing.4 Is it ‘lunch’ if someone sleeps during the day and eats their meal at midnight? The AHA defines meals as containing at least 210 calories and any eating occasion with less than 210 calories as a snack. Eating more meals and fewer snacks is associated with healthier food choices that include more fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein sources.1

  • Think ‘mini meal’ instead of ‘snack’ and you’re more likely to choose nutrient-dense foods such as fruit, vegetables, or whole grains instead of processed foods that are high in fat, sugar, salt and calories such as chips, energy bars, cookies and candy.
    • Instead of an energy bar, choose a piece of fruit with nut butter or 1 oz of nuts
    • Instead of chips, opt for plain popcorn, which is a whole grain
    • Instead of cookies, satisfy your sweet tooth with homemade trail mix that combines dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apples, etc), nuts and seeds
  • Plan meals around vegetables, fruit, whole grains and sources of protein no matter what time of day you eat.
    • Leftover stir-fry vegetables, brown rice and chicken or fish make a satisfying meal at any time
    • Use your crockpot to prepare meals in advance that are ready whenever you want a meal

Meal frequency:

Is it better to eat three meals per day, or to eat several small meals and/or snacks throughout the day? The AHA concludes that there isn’t enough evidence to prove that changing the number of times we eat has a significant impact on weight or CVD risk factors such as blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. The key isn’t the number of times we eat, but rather what we choose to eat.1 Consuming an overall healthy variety of foods that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources; and eating fewer processed foods higher in sodium, fat and calories is a well-known way to improve health, no matter how many times per day we eat.

  • Pay attention to your body’s hunger signals for when to eat.
  • Avoid eating just because others are eating.

Meal timing:

Eating late at night, defined as within 2 hours of going to bed, seems to increase CVD risk. People who work the midnight shift and eat during times that most people are asleep tend to have higher blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Disruption of circadian rhythms appears to be at least partially responsible for the increased cardiovascular risk of eating late in the evening. The recommendation to eat like a king at breakfast, like a queen at lunch, and like a pauper at dinner may have scientific merit. Some studies show that eating the largest meal of the day later in the evening, instead of during the day, increases cardiometabolic risk factors. Timing meals and snacks to fit within 10-12 hours, such as between 6am and 6pm, may help promote weight loss as well as decrease cardiovascular risk.1

  • Stop eating after your evening meal and instead stay busy doing fun activities.
  • Instead of skimping on breakfast, make it the largest meal of the day.
  • Use a smaller plate for your evening meal, and package the leftovers for a larger lunch the following day

Intermittent fasting:

There is increased interest in intermittent fasting both to lose weight as well as improve overall health. The two most common forms of intermittent fasting include alternate-day fasting and periodic fasting. Alternate-day fasting involves a “fast day,” consuming ≤25% of baseline calorie needs during a 24-hour period, alternated with a “feast day,” when participants eat as much as they like. Periodic fasting involves fasting one or two non-consecutive days per week, with unlimited food choices the rest of the week. Research on both types of fasting shows that participants typically lose 3-8% of their body weight after 3-24 weeks of following a fasting program. The impact on health parameters, however, is variable. Some studies show a decrease in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, and others report no effect. Triglyceride levels decrease along with weight loss; the more weight people lose, the lower their triglyceride levels. Blood pressure levels decreased only in people who lost 6-7% of their body weight, and insulin resistance decreased when people lost at least 4% of their body weight.1

  • Intermittent fasting is one of several weight loss strategies to evaluate; no one strategy is perfect for every single person. Choose the strategy that is the best fit for you and your lifestyle.
  • On non-fasting days, choose a variety of whole foods including vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lean protein sources. Limit processed foods that are high in salt, sugar and calories.
  • On ‘feast’ days stop eating when just starting to feel full and avoid overeating.

Conclusions:

The AHA scientific statement encourages an intentional approach to eating:1

  • Plan meals and snacks for specific times throughout the day to manage hunger.
  • Limit meals and snacks to a 10-12 hour timeframe during the day, avoiding eating later in the evening. For example, eat only between 6am and 6pm, or between 7am and 5pm.
  • Choose meals and snacks that contain a variety of nutrient-dense, healthy foods instead of relying on packaged and processed snack foods.
  • Consume a larger proportion of calories earlier in the day, making breakfast, lunch and daytime snacks higher in calories than dinner and evening snacks.
  • Consider using an intermittent fasting approach to decrease calories and lose weight, which may also decrease cardiovascular and diabetes risk.
  1. St-Onge MP, Ard J, Basin ML, Chiuve SE, Johnson HM, Kris-Etherton P, Varady K; American Heart Association Obesity Committee of the Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health; Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young; Council on Clinical Cardiology; Stroke Council. Meal Timing and Frequency: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017 Feb 28;135(9):e96-e121. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000476. Epub 2017 Jan 30.
  2. Gill S, Panda S. A smartphone app reveals erratic diurnal eating patterns in humans that can be modulated for health benefits. Cell Metab. 2015;22:789–798. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2015.09.005.
  3. Nicklas TA, Myers L, Reger C, Beech B, Berenson GS. Impact of breakfast consumption on nutritional adequacy of the diets of young adults in Bogalusa, Louisiana: ethnic and gender contrasts. J Am Diet Assoc. 1998;98:1432–1438. doi: 10.1016/S0002- 8223(98)00325-3.
  4. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economic News Release. Workers on Flexible and Shift Schedules in 2004. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/flex.nr0.htm Published 7-1-2005. Accessed 10-12-2017

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Are you one of millions of American’s that don’t eat or see the importance of eating breakfast in the morning? You aren’t alone; breakfast is one of the least common meals American’s eat.

Countless research studies have shown that eating breakfast reduces the need to overeat throughout the day, and it can help you control cravings that will negatively affect your diet. With American’s battling an obesity epidemic which experts say is expected to get worse, why aren’t we making use of the breakfast tip?

I used to be a non-breakfast eater, and I still am in some ways, but I try my best to emphasize eating something before stepping out of my house, because it is true: when I don’t eat anything a few hours after waking up, I am overly hungry and feel that my lunch has to be a big one to make up for what I didn’t eat earlier. This is what researchers mean by us overeating. If you eat in the morning, you will not feel like you have to double your midday meal.

But what if you’re just not into the big plate of pancakes, eggs and bacon with toast, or sausage links and hash browns? If you’re like me, then you just don’t find yourself in the mood to eat a large breakfast that may possibly upset your stomach and mess up your day. This is a usual occurrence for me during weekdays, because who wants to start off their day horribly by feeling too full?

If you want to reap the benefits of breakfast-eating, there is a way for you to indulge in something, even if you find yourself just uninterested in eating something before starting your day.

Before you try to make breakfast-eating a habit, it’s best to start off slow and then find out what foods you enjoy best for the morning. You also have to make sure the meal is fulfilling to reduce overeating come lunch time, and you also want to make sure you’re eating something that won’t upset your stomach.

Here’s a list of a few light (and healthy) breakfast meals to try out:

Oatmeal

1 cup of milk or water, and a half cup of quick instant oats. In under five minutes you have a full serving of a good meal. Oatmeal has fiber, vitamins, iron and good fats. This small meal can be eaten with something else, particularly fruit.

Egg Whites

Cooking or simply just eating the white part of a whole egg is one of the healthiest eating choices you can make when it comes to eggs. Because just one serving of a whole egg will surpass your daily recommended cholesterol requirements. To keep yourself full, try cooking 2-3 egg whites.

Bagel (or Toast)

Depending on your tastes, bagels come in many different varieties, so you aren’t limited to one type. They can be eaten plain, toasted, with butter, or any condiment of choice. Same for sliced bread toast.

Smoothie’s (or Shakes)

You can make smoothie’s however you want, either with fruits, vegetables or a combination of both. If you find yourself uneasy after drinking milk, try skipping out on smoothie recipes that call for dairy. One of my favorite smoothie recipes uses no milk, and it only takes 5-10 minutes to make.

Healthy Power Bars

If you like to eat as light as possible, try power bars. These are not the same as snack bars. A protein or iron bar will provide you with energy and nutrients that common snacks won’t give you. When buying, choose wisely and be sure that you buy the ones that aren’t loaded with bad fats and high sugar content.

These are some of my staples. What are your light breakfast ideas?

Interested in more healthy eating related info? Go here.

19 Easy No-Cook Breakfast Ideas That Taste Amazing

Breakfast may be heralded as the most important meal of the day, but it’s also one of the most difficult to prioritize. Who has time to maximize sleep, meditate, cook, shower, and get out of the door looking and feeling like a rockstar in the morning?! Kudos if you do; no shame if you don’t.

If you fall into the latter camp, these no-cook, easy breakfast ideas are for you. Made with only a handful of ingredients, requiring no stove or blender time, and still super healthy and delicious, these no-fuss dishes will at the very least make breakfast your favorite (and fastest) meal of the day.

1. Almond Milk Fig Chia Pudding

Chia pudding may sound decadent, but it’s actually healthy. Even better: It takes mere minutes to assemble. Prep the night before by mixing chia seeds, almond milk, and vanilla extract in a glass container. Come morning, the pudding will be thick and creamy. To make it a full meal, layer with coconut yogurt, sliced figs, and gluten-free granola. Super fast, super simple, and since it’s in a jar, you can eat it on the go.

2. Avocado Toast With Cottage Cheese and Tomatoes

Open-face sandwiches are a speedy breakfaster’s dream come true. We all know avocado toast, but this recipe opts for cottage cheese. Avocado lovers, don’t despair yet: The whole-grain toast is also topped with tomato and, of course, avocado, then lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. We love using lemon pepper to give it a little extra somethin’.

3. No-Bake Breakfast Cookies

Yes, breakfast cookies are a thing. And yes, we love them and can vouch for their nutritional value. For a fuss-free morning, make a fresh batch at night (or on the weekend), and it’ll be as easy as picking them up and chewing come morning. Start by combining the wet ingredients—honey, peanut butter, and vanilla extract—and slowly work in the dry. We love adding all kinds of extras, like chopped nuts, cacao nibs, goji berries, and pumpkin seeds.

4. Superfood Muesli

Cereal is a busy morning go-to, and while we get why (it really doesn’t get easier), we prefer making our own. This muesli is made with rolled grains, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and cardamom, and is topped with sunflower seeds, freeze-dried berries, pepitas, and almond milk. Go wild with add-ins, experiment with fruits, try a little sweet… options are endless, and they’re all just as easy as cereal—and way better for you.

5. Smashed Blackberry and Goat Cheese Toasts

We like to call this Adult Toast. Thick bread is topped with goat cheese and bursting berries. The recipe calls for simmering the berries, but it’s jsut as simple (and flavorful) to smash them with some vanilla extract and top sans extra sugar. Feel free to substitute any seasonal, squishy fruit and use any kind of bread.

6. Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats

The only thing better than piping hot apple crisp is a healthier version that you can eat for breakfast. Don’t believe us? Try this recipe. Toss oats, cinnamon, maple syrup, unsweetened almond milk, and a dash of vanilla into a mason jar. Then shake it, let set, and top with chopped apples in the morning. If you’re hankering for heat, feel free to pop in the microwave. Simple but unforgettable.

7. Honey Drizzled Pistachio and Avocado Bagel Toast

Whether you’re running a marathon or not, bagels can be a great way to fuel for the day (or soak up last night’s happy hour). This recipe spices up the classic cream cheese sandwich by going open-face and layering with sliced avocado, chopped pistachios, and a drizzle of honey. If you’re looking for something a bit lighter, give the second half to your partner or roommate—or simply make one slice.

8. Blueberry Muffin Granola Greek Yogurt Breakfast Bowl

We’re all about making our own granola. It’s cheaper, healthier, and way more delicious. These breakfast bowls are loaded with Greek yogurt (hello, protein), fresh fruit, nuts and seeds, homemade granola, and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. If you don’t have time to make granola in advance, feel free to use store-bought. Just keep an eye out for the amount of added sugars.

9. Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Sushi

Bananas look good dressed up in pretty much everything—and by look, we mean taste. These fun sushi-inspired rolls are dunked in peanut butter and coated in mini chocolate chips and nuts. To make it even easier, slice the banana, top it with your nut butter of choice, and dunk the nut butter-covered side in your favorite topping.

10. Chia Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl

Once you master the base of overnight oats, you can manipulate the flavor and texture as much as you please. We love that this recipe goes heavy on the chia seeds, adding extra texture and a bit of protein and fiber too. The cacao nibs give a nice crunch and fresh fruit and granola give it a great look—not that we need to Instagram everything.

11. Smoked Salmon, Orange, and Avocado Salad

Salads are good any time of day—even breakfast. To start your day on a smoky, citrusy note, try this light, protein-packed mix. Start by making a small pile of greens; top with smoked salmon, sliced oranges, and avocado; and lightly drizzle the homemade dressing. As with all of these recipes, we recommend doing any heavy(ish) lifting the night before—in this case, whisking a few ingredients together for the dressing.

12. Kefir Bowl

Greek yogurt isn’t the only option for protein-packed, breezy breakfast bowls. This recipe uses kefir, yogurt’s tangier, slightly sweeter cousin. Use an unsweetened variety to keep sugar in check, and also because the added fruit will give it plenty of flavor. Blend the banana and berries the night before to keep things cook free, or simply add the fresh fruit as a topping. We love topping with granola for extra fiber and a bit of crunch too.

13. Cottage Cheese With Tomatoes and Pepitas

For a more savory breakfast, opt for cheese—cottage cheese. Top the chunky goodness with halved tomatoes, pepitas, a dash of pepper, and touch of olive oil. This dish is also great for those who love heat because it’s extra tasty with hot sauce. Spice things up even more with flavored salts or peppers, like truffle salt or citrus pepper.

14. Peanut Butter Banana Overnight Oats

It’s hard to beat nut butter-infused oats in the morning. This recipe uses mashed banana, Greek yogurt, and peanut butter to pump up the oats, and the result is heavenly. Top with sliced banana, a dollop of peanut butter, and chopped nuts if you want. If peanut butter isn’t your jam—or rather, your nut butter of choice—use cashew or almond butter. You can use any fruit as well.

15. Apple Slice Cookies

Breakfast cookies, apple cookies… we’re clearly all about that cookie. Though these apple slices may look like a snack for kids, they’re just as good as adults—if not better. And don’t worry about slicing perfect O’s. These are just as beautiful, and just as flavorful, sliced as wedges and topped with your favorite nut butter and fixings. We’re big fans of shredded coconut, cranberries, walnuts, and almond butter.

16. Bagel With Wasabi Cream Cheese, Smoked Salmon, Avocado, and Pickled Ginger

Wasabi cream cheese is kind of genius. Simply mix 1-2 teaspoons of wasabi paste with plain cream cheese and voilà, a spicy, creamy spread is at your disposal. The wasabi adds the perfect bite to the bagel and lox, and the pickled ginger and scallions give just the right crunch and hint of added flavor. We know: Bagels and lox will never be the same.

17. Granola Crunch Apple-Peanut Butter Sandwich Wraps

Sometimes the easiest way to feel like a kid again is to eat like a kid again. This wrap can be thrown together in a jiff and eaten just as fast (so long, slow mornings). Simply spread nut butter on a whole-wheat wrap; layer with sliced apples, granola, and dried berries; roll; and eat. It’s crunchy, healthy, fun, and most importantly, fast.

18. Cherry Pistachio Ricotta Bowl With Honey and Cacao Nibs

Ricotta for breakfast? We didn’t believe it either—until we tried this dreamy breakfast bowl. The fun twist on yogurt uses part-skim ricotta as a base and is topped with cherries, pistachios, and a drizzle of honey. If it feels a little too heavy, top a portion of the cheese on an English muffin or toast, and save the rest for later.

19. Easy Breakfast Yogurt Popsicles

Now this is a freezer meal we can get behind. All you need are popsicle molds, yogurt, berries, granola, and a little breakfast spirit. Perfect for hot days or mornings when you’re in serious need of a pick-me-up, these pops taste like a serious treat. Have fun mixing in different fruits and using spices to flavor your yogurt.

Here’s What Skipping Breakfast Does to Your Body

It’s a hotly contested question in the nutrition world: is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Experts say that people who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat the rest of the day, but recent studies have found no difference in weight between those who skip their morning meal and those who don’t. In the meantime, skipping meals has become an increasingly popular part of modern life.

Breakfast-eaters tend to have lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, the American Heart Association reported earlier this year, but the group says the science isn’t strong enough to suggest that people who don’t normally eat breakfast should start. On the other hand, some research has even suggested that fasting for longer overnight periods (eating an early dinner, for example) could actually help people lose weight.

Now, a small new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition sheds some light on what really happens in the body when people skip breakfast on a regular basis. People burn more calories on days they skip breakfast, but that the habit may increase dangerous inflammation.

MORE: 5 Fascinating Facts About Breakfast

Researchers from the University of Hohenheim in Germany tested 17 healthy adults on three separate days: once when they skipped breakfast, once when they had three regular meals and once when they skipped dinner. Despite the change in scheduling, the calorie content and breakdown of carbohydrates, fat and protein were the same on all three days. (On days with a skipped meal, the other two meals had extra calories to make up for it.) Each day, blood samples were collected frequently from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. to measure hormone levels, glucose and insulin concentrations, and immune cell activity.

They found that people burned more calories over a 24-hour period when they extended their overnight fast by skipping either lunch (41 more calories) or dinner (91 more calories), compared with the three-meals-a-day schedule. These findings are in line with other studies on time-restricted eating.

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They found no difference in 24-hour glucose levels, insulin secretion or total physical activity between the three days. But glucose concentrations and markers of inflammation and insulin resistance were higher after lunch on breakfast-skipping days.

People also oxidized more fat, meaning their bodies broke down more of their stored fat reserves, on days when they skipped breakfast. That may sound like a good thing, but the researchers say it could have a downside. It suggests an impairment in metabolic flexibility, the body’s ability to switch between burning fat and carbohydrates—which “may in the long term lead to low-grade inflammation and impaired glucose homeostasis,” they wrote.

The researchers concluded that because chronic inflammation is known to affect insulin sensitivity, skipping breakfast could contribute to “metabolic impairment,” which could potentially raise the risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Courtney Peterson, assistant professor of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama Birmingham, says that more research is needed in order to know the bottom line on breakfast. It’s too early to know whether skipping breakfast has a meaningful effect on inflammation levels, she says, and “the authors’ data does not support the idea that breakfast skipping is bad for health.” Peterson, who was not involved in the new research, studies time-restricted eating. (She led the 2016 study mentioned above, which found that eating an early dinner can boost calorie burn.)

Because the researchers only measured inflammation levels after lunch, she says, “it’s possible that skipping breakfast increases inflammation at lunchtime but decreases it other times of the day.” And because the study was only a few days long, it can’t say whether skipping breakfast regularly would affect health or metabolism.

The study also suggests that skipping breakfast or dinner might help people lose weight, since they burned more calories on those days. Yet she says that the elevated levels of inflammation noted after lunch “could be a problem,” and adds that the finding warrants further research. Skipping meals and other types of intermittent fasting may not be realistic for most people, Peterson says—and it does have the potential to backfire if it triggers unhealthy snacking or overeating later on.

You may even want to rethink which meal you’re sacrificing. Because calorie burn in this study was greater when skipping dinner compared with skipping breakfast, Peterson says “it might be better for weight loss to skip dinner than to skip breakfast.”

This fits with what’s already known about humans’ circadian clock, she adds: “Your metabolism and blood sugar control are better in the morning than they are in the evening and at night, so it makes sense to eat more food earlier in the day.”

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Thanks to our friends at Healthy Aperture Blogger Network and Hodgson Mill for sponsoring this Healthy Carrot Cake Breakfast Bowl – ‘cause cake for breakfast is always a good idea!! This yummy bowl is loaded with healthy ingredients like Hodgson Mill Oat Bran, milled flax seeds, grated carrots, coconut milk, golden raisins, walnuts, shredded coconut, cinnamon, and pure maple syrup. This delicious breakfast bowl is a great way to start any day!

Are you a breakfast person? I totally am if it involves a hot cup of coffee and CAKE for breakfast!!! Hello there – yummy Carrot Cake Breakfast Bowl!

But for real, about that coffee… can someone just go ahead and hook me up to a caffeine IV? ‘Cause I’m too tired to hold the mug for myself. And the quicker it gets into my system the better because I’m barely functioning in the morning. Uugh! Unlike the hubs, I’m a bit of a slow starter.

I slooowly inch out of bed with one eye open, and most of the time with both closed, I brush my teeth. Then take morning vitamins and make the coffee. All without turning on one light in my house. I’m like a bat or maybe a vampire – totally nocturnal and bright light is just so painful first thing in the morning.

Now the B man on the other hand – totally different story. He leaps out of bed, turning on every light he can find, talking about whatever pops in his head, and sings show tunes in the shower. Ok, so I’m exaggerating about the show tunes – it’s more like Pharrell Williams … ’cause he’s just happy. Lol

I’m sure you’re getting the picture. So many lights, sounds and actions happening in the B man’s AM world. Annnd all of it without a lick of coffee. Not kidding. It’s just not fair.

And probably because he has such a high metabolism and sooo much energy he has to eat a big bowl of grains, fiber, and protein. You know something that really stays with him until his second breakfast (an hour later). Again I say: not fair!

This Carrot Cake Breakfast Bowl is just the ticket for his morning grazing. It’s loaded with all kinds of healthy goodness… Hodgson Mill Oat Bran, milled flax seeds, shredded carrots, coconut milk, golden raisins, walnuts, shredded coconut, cinnamon, and pure maple syrup. It’s like eating a warm yummy piece of carrot cake for breakfast – mmmm. But instead of the normal carrot cake ingredients, this version is actually good for you. Yes – please!

Annnd it’s ready in 5ish minutes – depending on whether you’re a morning person or not. (Just keeping it real.)

I really love using Hodgson Mill Oat Bran Cereal in this breakfast bowl. It creates a hearty, yet creamy and satisfying morning meal. Their top-quality oats are grown right here in America’s heartland. The oats are milled to remove a portion of the starchy kernel from the fiber-dense bran layer… resulting in superior flavor and texture with absolutely no fillers or preservatives. AND their Oat Bran Cereal is a good source of fiber, including soluble fiber.

Both soluble and insoluble fiber are good for you in different ways. Insoluble does not dissolve in water. It stays intact as it moves through your digestive system, providing bulk and keeping you regular. You can find insoluble fiber in wheat bran, vegetables, and fruit skins and seeds.

Soluble fiber on the other hand does dissolve in water, into a gel which slows and regulates digestion. Soluble fiber is also thought to bond with cholesterol particles and sweep them out of the body. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, nuts, seeds, lentils and other legumes, fruits and especially blueberries.

I’ll take all the help I can get, so bring on the Oat Bran Cereal – please and thank you!

This easy stove-top Carrot Cake recipe couldn’t be any simpler to make. And I’m sure you have most of these Carrot Cake ingredients on hand.

I like to soften and plump up my raisins, so the first thing I do is add the milk to the pan, bring it to a simmer, then add the shredded carrots and raisins and cook for about a minute over medium heat.

Next, I add in Hodgson Mill Oat Bran Cereal, milled flax seeds, walnuts, cinnamon, pure maple syrup, collagen protein powder (totally optional) and a pinch of salt.

I cook this for 1-2 minutes, stir in the shredded coconut, and dish it up. I like to top it off with more shredded coconut, walnuts, a little extra shredded carrot, and sometimes even a drizzle of Greek yogurt with pure maple syrup to make it extra delicious, still super-healthy, and sooo beautiful. After all we eat with our eyes first.

Isn’t she gorgeous!!

I like adding a protein source to my breakfast cereals. That way it balances out the carbohydrates and between that and the fiber it slows and regulates digestion. Which helps to keep us fueled and feeling full longer.

Healthy Carrot Cake Breakfast Bowl Toppings:

Here are some other ideas of Carrot Cake ingredients you could swap out or add in to your breakfast Bowl.

  • Chai seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Almonds, pecans, cashews or even Macadamia nuts
  • Pineapple or banana – dried or fresh
  • Sweetened protein powder (just omit the pure maple syrup and collagen protein)
  • Almond or cashew butter
  • Honey (just omit the pure maple syrup)
  • Ginger powder
  • Vanilla extract

These are just a few I thought of but I’m sure there are many more tasty toppings you can use to make your Healthy Carrot Cake Breakfast Bowl a nutritious and delicious way to start your day!

Enjoy!

I would love to connect with you! Leave me a comment and follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter!

5 from 1 vote Healthy Carrot Cake Breakfast Bowl Prep Time 5 mins Cook Time 7 mins Total Time 12 mins

Healthy Carrot Cake Breakfast Bowl – This yummy bowl is loaded with healthy ingredients like Oat Bran, milled flax seeds, grated carrots, coconut milk, golden raisins, walnuts, shredded coconut, cinnamon, and pure maple syrup. This delicious breakfast bowl is a great way to start any day!

Course: Breakfast Cuisine: American Keyword: Breakfast Bowl, Carrot Cake Servings: 2 servings Calories: 383 kcal Author: Holly Sander Ingredients For The Breakfast Bowl:

  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (or almond milk if preferred)
  • 3/4 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 3/4 cup Hodgson Mill Oat Bran Cereal
  • 1 tablespoon Hodgson Mill All Natural Milled Flax Seed
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin collagen protein (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon shredded coconut

For The Toppings:

  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 shake of salt
  • Flaked or shredded coconut
  • Chopped walnuts
  • Shredded carrots
  • Golden raisins

Instructions

  1. Heat coconut milk to simmer in a small saucepan (about 4-5 minutes). Add carrots and golden raisins, then simmer for about a minute over medium heat.

  2. Stir in the oat bran cereal, milled flax seed, walnuts, cinnamon, pure maple syrup, collagen protein powder, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 1-2 minutes until it’s your desired consistency. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon flaked coconut (if mixture gets too thick add little more milk to thin it out).

  3. In a separate bowl, make a drizzle by combining Greek yogurt, pure maple syrup, water, and salt.

  4. Pour the oat bran cereal into a bowl and top with shredded coconut, dried raisins, walnuts and carrots. Finish with Greek yogurt drizzle.

Nutrition Facts Healthy Carrot Cake Breakfast Bowl Amount Per Serving Calories 383 Calories from Fat 126 % Daily Value* Fat 14g22% Saturated Fat 2g10% Sodium 340mg14% Potassium 675mg19% Carbohydrates 45g15% Fiber 10g40% Sugar 33g37% Protein 11g22% Vitamin A 8020IU160% Vitamin C 3.4mg4% Calcium 109mg11% Iron 3.3mg18% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Intro

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There are times, such as Super Bowl parties or holiday feasts, when people jokingly complain that they have “overdosed” on food. While those extra helpings of turkey or taco dip might, at worst, give you a bad case of indigestion, there are foods out there that can seriously harm you if you eat too much of them.

Here’s are seven foods that prove that you really can have too much of a good thing.

Carrots

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Carrots are full of vitamins, minerals and fibers that are good for your health. But eating too many carrots can bring in too much beta-carotene the molecule responsible for carrots’ bright orange hue and a precursor of vitamin A. This can lead to excess blood carotene which can discolor the skin.

Known as carotenemia, the condition occurs because carotene is a fat-soluble molecule. Excessive quantities of it tend to accumulate in the outermost layer of skin, resulting in yellow- or orange-pigmented skin, particularly in the palms, soles, knees and nasal area.

Although carotenemia occurs mostly in infants when they are fed too much pureed carrot baby food, it can occur in adults as well. In a case report published in The Journal of Dermatology in 2006, a 66-year-old woman’s skin turned yellow-orange after she took too many carotene oral supplements. One cup of raw chopped carrots has about 15 mg of carotene, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Database, so you’d need to eat half a cup of chopped carrots every day for months, in order to turn to her shade of yellow.

Despite such dramatic outward appearance, carotenemia is a mostly harmless condition and it is often reversible.

Tuna sushi

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Sushi lovers beware: eating too much raw tuna can increase your intake of mercury. Large fishes on top of the food chain, such as the prized bluefin tuna, can accumulate methyl mercury in their muscles because they consume many smaller fishes over their lives.

It’s difficult to pin down the mercury levels in pieces of sushi, because they can vary depending on the size and species of fish. This makes it difficult to set a definitive cap on sushi consumption.

However, tuna sushi from restaurants tends to have higher mercury levels than supermarket tuna sushi, according to research published in the journal Biology Letters in 2010. Some samples of bigeye tuna or bluefin tuna, which are more common in restaurants, had mercury levels that exceeded or approached levels permissible by regulatory agencies in the U.S., Canada other nations and the World Health Organization, the study showed.

Because mercury can cause severe neurological problems, pregnant women and young children are advised by the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to avoid eating too much tuna. According to the agency’s 2004 guidelines, others can eat up to 6 ounces (approximately equal to one average meal) of tuna steak per week.

Kombucha Tea

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Kombucha is a sugary, black tea fermented by a flat, pancake-like symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts called the “Kombucha mushroom.” It can be purchased at health food stores or made at home with the starter “mushroom,” the beverage is reputed to have immunity-boosting and beneficial effects, but there is very little scientific evidence of these available in current literature.

Although the brew is mostly benign (it usually tastes very acidic, and contains alcohol from the fermentation process), the American Cancer Society has warned that certain Kombucha starter cultures may contain contaminants such as molds and fungi, some of which can cause illness.

There have been reported cases of severe toxic reactions to Kombucha tea. In a recent report published in the Journal of Intensive Care Medicine by physicians at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, a 22-year-old male newly diagnosed with HIV became ill within twelve hours of consuming the tea. He was short of breath, his temperature spiked to 103.0 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 Celsius), and he subsequently became combative and confused, requiring sedation and intubation for airway control.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointed out that kombucha tea consumed in typical quantities approximately 4 ounces daily might not cause adverse effects in healthy persons. However, those with preexisting health problems or those who drink excessive quantities of the tea should beware.

Coffee

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Although some people claim they would cease to function properly without their cup of morning coffee, it’s best not to have too many cups. According to the Mayo Clinic, you shouldn’t consume more than 500 to 600 milligrams of caffeine a day. A typical, 8-ounce cup of medium roast coffee has about 200 mg of caffeine, a 1-ounce shot of espresso has about 75 mg, an 8 ounce cup of black tea can have 120 mg of caffeine.

Noticeable side effects can occur if you consume more than 600 to 900 mg of caffeine a day, according to the Mayo Clinic, and those include: insomnia, restlessness, nausea, irregular heartbeat, muscle tremors, anxiety and headaches. In fact, too much caffeine can be fatal. According to a case published by Swedish physicians in a 2010 issue of Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica, a 21-year-old woman went into cardiac arrest shortly after consuming about 10,000 mg of caffeine. Although she was resuscitated by ventricular fibrillations a few times, she stopped responding to medication three days later.

Star fruit

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Star fruit poisoning was first described in 1980 in Malaysia, where it was found to have a depressive effect on the central nervous system. Although star fruits (also known as carambolas) are not as common in North America, it is widely available in Southeast Asia and South America as fresh fruits, in salads and pickled juice.

This uniquely shaped fruit poses very little risk to healthy people when eaten in normal quantities. However, acute kidney failure has been reported in people with a history of kidney diseases. In a 2006 case report published in the Journal of Nephrology, a patient with underlying chronic kidney disease developed a bad reaction after eating star fruit, which led to rapid deterioration in kidney function and permanent renal injury. In a similar case reported in the Hong Kong Medical Journal in 2009, a 76-year-old woman with chronic renal disease was admitted to the hospital in a state of mental drowsiness and accelerated heart rate after eating two star fruits.

Common symptoms for star fruit intoxication include hiccups (the most common symptom, especially in mild intoxication), vomiting, weakness, insomnia, altered consciousness, convulsions and hypotension. People with a history of kidney illnesses should avoid pure, sour star fruit juice (a popular beverage in Taiwan) and mild, diluted pickled juice in large amounts, especially on an empty stomach.

Water

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The conventional guideline of drinking eight glasses of water a day has proven to be a myth. But there is such thing as drinking too much water. Water intoxication occurs when a person drinks so much that the water dilutes the concentration of sodium in the blood, creating an electrolyte imbalance.

Water intoxication, known as hyponatremia, is mostly a risk for endurance athletes. A 2005 article in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 13 percent of 488 runners in the 2002 Boston Marathon developed hyponatremia from drinking too much water. According to the researchers, a relatively simple strategy to reduce that risk would be for runners to weigh themselves before and after training runs, in order to gauge their overall fluid intake and ensure they do not drink too much water during exercise.

An unusual and fatal case of water intoxication occurred in 2007 when a California woman reportedly drank too much water during a “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” radio station contest.

Nutmeg

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The light dusting of nutmeg on your eggnog has practically no effects aside from making your beverage more delicious. However, trouble kicks in when the spice is consumed in excessive quantities as a low-cost hallucinogenic drug.

Unpleasant side effects usually appear three to eight hours after ingestion, and can include anxiety, fear, and a feeling of impending doom. According to a case report published in Emergency Medicine Journal in 2005, some people may also experience acute psychotic episodes, detachment from reality and visual hallucinations.

Nutmeg, even in doses as high as 20 to 80 grams of powder, is rarely deadly. There were only two reports of fatal nutmeg overdoses in medical literature. The first was reported in 1908 and involved about 14 grams ingested by an 8-year-old. The second case involved a 55-year-old and was reported in the journal Forensic Science International in 2001. Toxicology tests found traces of myristicin (a compound found in the essential oil of nutmeg) and flunitrazepam (a powerful sedative) in her blood. Her death was likely due to the combined toxic effect of both substances, the report said.

Perfectly Cooked Carrots

It’s always good to have a healthy, simple carrot recipe in your repertoire for busy nights.

Recipe: Try our Perfectly Cooked Carrots

Gingered Carrot & Kale Ribbons

This flavor-packed one-pot wonder is simple enough for any weeknight but fancy enough for a dinner party.

Recipe: Try our Gingered Carrot & Kale Ribbons

Roasted Carrots with Turmeric Couscous

Photography by Sarah Anne Ward

This recipe makes a great light supper on its own—or a tasty base for anything from poached shrimp to seared steak!

Recipe: Try our Roasted Carrots with Turmeric Couscous

Carrot & Apple Salad

Fresh and crunchy produce makes a palate- and eye-pleasing salad.

Recipe: Try our Carrot & Apple Salad

Carrot-Chili Vinaigrette

Photography by Marcus Nilsson

This dressing has a kick to it!

Recipe: Try our Carrot-Chili Vinaigrette

Potato-Carrot Latkes with Lemon-Raisin Topping

Add a sweet, orange bite to traditional potato pancakes. Don’t forget the sour cream!

Recipe: Try our Potato-Carrot Latkes with Lemon-Raisin Topping

Harissa Carrots

Say hi to harissa, your new obsession. This North-African blend is made with red chiles, garlic and spices.

Recipe: Try our Harissa Carrots

Carrot-y Mary

Photography by Sarah Anne Ward

Why should tomatoes have all the fun at brunch?

Recipe: Try our Carrot-y Mary

Peas with Lettuce & Carrots

These springtime ingredients come together for a side dish that’s pretty enough to please.

Recipe: Try our Peas with Lettuce & Carrots

Roasted Carrot, Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

Three fall favorites (color-coded, of course) make the perfect hearty soup.

Recipe: Try our Roasted Carrot, Squash & Sweet Potato Soup

Ginger Beer-Glazed Carrots

Photography by Sarah Ann Ward

Ginger beer and orange zest give this side a surprising kick of flavor.

Recipe: Try our Ginger Beer-Glazed Carrots

Carrot-Apple-Ginger Smoothies

No juicer required! Get your vitamin fix first thing in the morning with this fruity, spicy smoothie.

Recipe: Try our Carrot-Apple-Ginger Smoothies

Pea & Carrot Soup with Rice

This hearty soup is bound to cure any cold!

Recipe: Try our Pea & Carrot Soup with Rice

Moroccan Sheet-Pan Chicken

Photography by Christopher Testani

The only thing better than plain ol’ roasted carrots is roasted carrots with Moroccan spices. And chickpeas, onions, chicken, dried fruit, and honey for a hearty, delicious dinner.

Recipe: Try our Moroccan Sheet-Pan Chicken

Chilled Red Pepper & Carrot Soup with Yogurt

Photography by Dan Saelinger

You can serve this healthy soup chilled or at room-temperature, which makes it perfect for picnics!

Recipe: Try our Chilled Red Pepper & Carrot Soup with Yogurt

Sicilian-Style Carrots

Anchovies, garlic and parsley are what make this magical dish Sicilian.

Recipe: Try our Sicilian-Style Carrots

Moroccan Carrot-Chickpea Salad

Crunchy carrot sticks absorb flavors of lemon juice, coriander and cayenne. Creamy chickpeas and sweet raisins balance out the dish.

Recipe: Try our Moroccan Carrot-Chickpea Salad

Grilled Carrots with Carrot-Top Salsa Verde

No waste here! This recipe uses whole carrots and all its greens.

Recipe: Try our Grilled Carrots with Carrot-Top Salsa Verde

Napa Cabbage, Carrot and Almond Slaw with Honey

Serve this crisp, sweet slaw aside smoky sausage for the ultimate juicy-crunch combo.

Recipe: Try our Napa Cabbage, Carrot and Almond Slaw with Honey

Tarragon-Tossed Carrots

A touch of tarragon gives an anise-flavored tingle to a crowd-pleasing root vegetable.

Recipe: Try our Tarragon-Tossed Carrots

Gingered Carrot-Parsnip Puree

This silky-smooth side dish is sweet and slightly spicy.

Recipe: Try our Gingered Carrot-Parsnip Puree

Glazed Carrots

Give wine new purpose as a star ingredient in this sweet and savory side dish.

Recipe: Try our Glazed Carrots

Vegetarian Chickpea & Lentil Chili

Even meat-eaters will go gaga for this hearty veggie chili.

Recipe: Try our Vegetarian Chickpea & Lentil Chili

Magic Pickled Carrots

What makes these carrots magical? Their quick pickling time!

Recipe: Try our Magic Pickled Carrots

Carrot Cakes

Welcome carrots into the breakfast world with this delicious and healthful recipe.

Recipe: Try our Carrot Cakes

Carrot & Coconut Soup with Curried Shrimp

Sorry, chicken noodle—we just found our new favorite cool-weather soup.

Recipe: Try our Carrot & Coconut Soup with Curried Shrimp

Nutty Asian Noodles with Carrots & Edamame

With this recipe, your favorite Chinese flavors are easy to recreate at home.

Recipe: Try our Nutty Asian Noodles with Carrots & Edamame

Kale and Carrot Salad with Candied Walnuts

Let the kale and carrots soften by sitting in the sweet-tangy sauce.

Recipe: Try our Kale & Carrot Salad with Candied Walnuts

Argentine Rice-Veggie Salad

Clean out your veggie drawer and have the kids clamoring for their greens with this rice supper.

Recipe: Try our Argentine Rice-Veggie Salad

Cheesy Vegetable Gratin

Sneak veggies into this rich gratin for an added health—and flavor—boost!

Recipe: Try our Cheesy Vegetable Gratin

Carrot Cake Shakes

Hope you saved room for dessert!

Recipe: Try our Carrot Cake Shakes

35 Carrot Recipes

It’s always good to have a healthy, simple carrot recipe in your repertoire for busy nights.

Recipe: Try our Perfectly Cooked Carrots

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Eat Dinner for Breakfast If You Want to Lose Weight

No, we don’t mean you should wake up and eat a slice of leftover cold pizza. Sorry. (Though a freshly baked breakfast pizza sounds like a great idea.)

We just mean you should swap the sizes of your meals. It’s a common mistake — Americans often eat little to nothing of nutritional value at breakfast and throughout the day and then go absolutely ham at dinner time. Either they go out to dinner and consume thousands of greasy, decadent calories under the misguided guise of “I’ve been good all day!” or they sit down to a bountiful family meal that lasts long enough to go back for seconds — or maybe even thirds.

This is a problem. When did we start to think it was a good idea to go hungry when we need our energy most and then make up for it with excess under the canopy of night?

Multiple studies have shown that the healthier choice is a larger and more nutritionally dense breakfast, rather than a skimpy one. Participants in these studies who ate larger breakfasts ended up eating a smaller dinner.

These larger breakfasts effectively combat the vicious restrict-binge cycle that many dieters find themselves whirling through each day: They eat small amounts of food until their cravings take over and they allow themselves to eat. Then, they inevitably overdo it when the body sets off alarmed warnings of “eat what you can now before it’s gone”; they then wake up the next morning feeling guilty and prone to restricting their intake again.

While the exact impact of the big breakfast on health is still a point of significant contention, it undoubtedly breaks the cycle by starting the day with a large, satisfying amount of food.

With the exception of night shift workers and night owls, the majority of people are most active during the day. Giving your body energy when it needs to use it is bound to have beneficial health outcomes — including, if your body has a lower “set point,” weight loss. Your set point is the weight and size at which your body functions its best. When you eat healthy and get a moderate amount of exercise, your weight will waver around this set point — your body’s “happy place.”

So the healthier habit of stopping the binge-restrict cycle in its tracks could totally result in weight loss — that is, of course, if you need to lose weight at all. Many people deemed “overweight” by faulty measuring systems such as BMI actually just have a higher set point—and are healthier at that higher weight. Even an obese person can be healthier at a higher weight.

There are multiple reasons to try eating a big breakfast that have nothing to do with weight loss. In fact, big breakfasts have been shown to prevent a number of conditions including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. One study from Tel Aviv University confirmed it by feeding 700-calorie breakfasts to study participants — and observing health benefits that far exceeded expectations. The large breakfast group even experienced lower levels of bad cholesterol. They probably avoided these cholesterol-heavy breakfasts, though — and you still should, too.

If you’re like other Americans, your New Year’s resolution is to shed a few unwanted pounds. With such an array of diet books on the market, how do you know which one’s for you? We took a look at some of them on TODAY. Read an excerpt of “The Reverse Diet: Lose 20, 50, 100 Pounds or More by Eating Dinner for Breakfast and Breakfast for Dinner” by Tricia Cunningham, who lost 150 pounds on this diet, and Heidi Skolnik, nutritionist.

Tricia’s Story
One day six years ago, I woke up and decided to do exactly the opposite of what I had been doing my whole life. Up until that point, I had spent most of my life struggling with a weight problem. I yo-yoed between bingeing and fasting and eventually tipped the scale at 280 pounds on a 5’8” frame.

Until that time, even throughout my childhood, I thought nothing of being 150 to 160 pounds. I wasn’t one of the thin girls. My weight became a way for me to protect myself from the abuse I suffered at home. If I made myself ugly, I figured that I was less of a target for my first stepfather’s unwelcome attention. Even though I eventually moved to live with my grandmother, this habit stuck with me. Fear of being attractive created a lifelong struggle with my weight.

My weight fluctuated for many years. I tried everything, including starvation and just about every fad diet, all of which failed miserably. Ultimately I gained more weight than I lost. Nothing seemed to work. My family tried to convince me that I was “big-boned” and that there was nothing I could do about it. But when I married my first husband, Ron, at age nineteen, he didn’t accept that logic. He wanted me to be super-thin, and he wasn’t patient. I was back to starving myself and binge eating. By Christmas 1991 I managed to get down to a size 9 and felt great. Valentine’s Day 1992 came with a special surprise: I was pregnant with my first child, Brittni. Of course I welcomed this blessing, but it presented a whole new challenge.

Having struggled with weight all of my life and then being told that I had to gain weight, I was in an emotional whirlwind. I thought I had a free pass to eat whatever I wanted. Ron worked as a supervisor for a local snack food company, and just about every night he brought home as many snacks as he could carry. Three-pound bags of potato chips, Slim Jims, cookies—you name it. I was in heaven. At the end of the pregnancy in October 1992, I weighed 220 pounds, having gained 70 pounds. After I had Brittni, my eating habits didn’t go back to the way they were before the pregnancy and therefore neither did my weight. In March 1993, I learned I was pregnant with my second child. I was delighted, and once again I had a free pass to eat whatever I wanted.

Not long after Noelle was born, Ron was back on the subject of my weight. He hounded me about not losing weight after having Brittni. He was constantly comparing me to a woman in his office and complaining that I wasn’t nearly as skinny as she was. It didn’t take long before I realized they were having an affair, and soon after that my marriage with Ron dissolved. Over the next few years, I had a few short romantic relationships, and my weight would fluctuate accordingly. Bingeing and starving were my two best friends. I ate a lot during stressful times and nothing after I had done something wrong — that is, anything less than perfect. I was a perfectionist and an overachiever in all aspects of life except where my weight was concerned. That was the one thing I felt I couldn’t control.

I was the heaviest I had ever been, maxing out at 292 pounds. I kept starving myself and losing as much as 40 pounds, but it always came back. I just couldn’t keep the weight off.

Then on August 28, 1999, everything changed. I woke up exhausted from a party the night before. We had been celebrating the life of a friend we’d lost, and I was still dealing with my emotions as I slowly made my way downstairs. I moved slowly because I was wearing a cast on my right leg, which I had broken a few weeks earlier during a tumble down the steps. I couldn’t see my feet over my belly, tripped, and went flying. It was 9:30 in the morning and the house was crowded with people over to watch a sporting event. We ordered a pizza, and I had my usual drink, Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi, along with my morning cigarette — I was smoking 2 ½ packs a day. Everything seemed normal. After four puffs of my cigarette, three bites of pizza, and a half a glass of my drink, my heart felt like it was getting ready to burst. Everything was spinning out of control; it felt like there was a swarm of bees in my head, and I dropped everything and ran into the bathroom.

I was suffering from the worst panic attack I had ever experienced. As a trained nurse, I knew what to do; I started running my wrists under cold water, but it didn’t work. My daughters were trying to talk me down. Even so, my heart was racing. The girls ran a cold bath for me and I soaked in it for two hours. I still didn’t feel right. I was afraid to go to a doctor; I feared that something awful was happening. The attack went on for the next five hours before finally subsiding. I went back into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I hated what I saw; I hated myself. There I was with two beautiful daughters, years of education, and the world in front of me, and I was killing myself, destroying my body, and ruining my future.

After the panic attack, I tried to figure out what had brought it on. I thought it must have been something I ate, drank, or smoked, and so I refused to eat or drink for the rest of the day (and I have never had another cigarette). I did not eat or drink anything for the next three days. On the fourth morning, I woke up and knew that I couldn’t keep starving myself. I looked into the mirror that morning and didn’t hate what I saw, because I began to realize that I could change it. I knew that everything I had done up to that point with my weight and health had been wrong. I knew that I couldn’t keep living the way I was living. I had to reverse course — to flip-flop everything — to change my life. That was the beginning of the Reverse Diet.

I went into the kitchen that fourth morning extremely hungry, but still frightened from the panic attack and worried that food would cause another attack. I stuck to basic ingredients, nothing exotic. The first breakfast included a plain chicken breast, a baked potato, and some broccoli. No butter, spices, or salt. I took my time, checking my pulse every few minutes. Everything seemed fine, and I felt good. Within a couple of hours, I was hungry again, so for lunch I had more chicken and veggies. My belly always growled by dinner time, as it was the only big meal I typically had, but this day there was no growling. I wasn’t hungry and ate very little: just a small serving of plain, dry shredded wheat. The next morning I was very hungry, so I ate the same things because I knew they were safe. For the next week, I continued the same routine: my dinner in the morning, a smaller meal for lunch, and a small breakfast for dinner. I knew that my clothes were getting loose and I was shedding a few pounds, but I didn’t know that I had lost 12 pounds in a week! By the time I got my cast off in September, just a month later, I had lost 40 pounds.

I started to think that something was wrong with me — there was no way I was eating this much food every day and losing weight without something being wrong. While I was definitely watching the foods I ate, my meals weren’t tiny and unsatisfying as they had been on every diet I had ever been on. Instead, I was eating until I was full. How do you lose weight by eating more? This didn’t make sense to me. I made an appointment with my doctor, who did a complete physical and told me that I was entirely healthy — in fact, healthier than I had ever been. I couldn’t believe my ears. Not only was I not dying, I was actually going to live longer. I became obsessed with the concept of eat more food, lose more weight. I bought diet book after diet book searching for the answers to my questions, but I was on my own. I’d have to figure this out by myself.

Some of the changes to my lifestyle I just fell into. It started with me trying to have the fewest ingredients for a light dinner. I chose cereal (shredded wheat), but I didn’t want the milk. I used to drink orange juice every morning, so one day I just decided to mix it in. I know shredded wheat with orange juice sounds weird, but I found that I really liked it, plus it satisfied my sweet craving. Other aspects of the plan took research and experimentation.

That New Year’s Eve I went to a party wearing a size 9 dress. I had gone from 250 pounds in August down to just 150 pounds. I had set a goal weight of 130 pounds and knew that I could do it. By March 2000, I was at 130. I even got as low as 112, but that was too thin for my build. I went back to 130 and have stayed that weight ever since. Now I work as a motivational coach for fellow Reverse Dieters and have dedicated my life to helping others reverse their lives the same way I did. All I have learned is in the pages that follow. I’ve teamed up with Heidi Skolnik, a knowledgeable nutritionist, and together we’ve made this diet something that can work for everyone.

Week 1 Meal Plans

Week 1

Day 1

Breakfast

  • Egg Bake with Ground Turkey, Tomato, and Broccoli
  • Peach
  • 4 oz glass of skim milk
  • hot lemon water

SnackCelery stalk with fat free sour cream

Lunch

  • Whole wheat pasta with olive oil and garlic
  • Grilled shrimp
  • Small tossed salad with fat free dressing
  • Hot lemon water

Snack

  • Apple with non-fat yogurt

Dinner

  • Shredded wheat and oatmeal with 4 oz.
  • No sugar added cranberry juice
  • Hot lemon water

Day 2

Breakfast

  • Baked potato with low fat/sodium butter and fat free sour cream
  • Steamed broccoli with garlic
  • Grilled tofu
  • Hot lemon water

Snack

  • Handful of walnuts

Lunch

  • Reverse Diet Spinach, Strawberry and Nut Salad
  • Grilled chicken breast
  • Hot lemon water

Snack

  • Handful of almonds

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Dinner

  • Reverse Diet Egg Salad Spread
  • 1 slice of whole wheat toast
  • Glass of orange juice
  • Hot lemon water

Day 3

Breakfast

  • Reverse Diet Green Bean Bake
  • Mashed sweet potato with low fat/ sodium butter
  • Hot lemon water

Snack

  • Banana

Lunch

  • Reverse Diet Grumpy Grouper
  • Steamed asparagus in olive oil and garlic
  • Hot lemon water

Snack

  • Rice cake with low fat/low sodium peanut butter
  • Hot lemon water

Dinner

  • Reverse Diet Tangy Tofu Smoothie

Day 4

Breakfast

  • Reverse Diet Jambalaya
  • Hot lemon water

Snack

  • Reverse Diet Fruit Kabob

Lunch

  • Reverse Diet Artichoke Heart Casserole Medley
  • Grilled Turkey burger
  • Hot lemon water

Snack

  • Reverse Diet Mixed Fruit Mold

Dinner

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Whole wheat toast with low fat/sodium butter
  • Glass of skim milk
  • Hot lemon water

Day 5

Breakfast

  • Reverse Diet Eggplant Lasagna
  • Hot lemon water

Snack

  • Handful of soy nuts

Lunch

  • Reverse Diet Chicken noodle soup
  • Sliced tomato
  • Hot lemon water

Snack

  • Blueberries and non-fat yogurt

Dinner

  • Reverse Diet Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Cheese
  • Reverse Diet Apple Smoothie
  • Hot lemon water

Day 6

Breakfast

  • Reverse Diet Veggie Burger with Swiss cheese
  • Top with lettuce, tomato, and onion
  • Slice of whole wheat toast
  • Hot lemon water

Snack

  • Reverse Diet Peach & Apple Mash

Lunch

  • Reverse Diet stuffed zucchini
  • Hot lemon water

Snack

  • Reverse Diet Raspberry Delight

Dinner

  • Reverse Diet Chili
  • Hot lemon water

Day 7

Breakfast

  • Reverse Diet Southern Fried Chicken
  • Reverse Diet Potato Salad
  • Reverse Diet Cole Slaw
  • Hot Lemon Water

Snack

  • Mixed fruit salad

Lunch

  • Reverse Diet Brown Rice and Tuna Casserole
  • Hot lemon water

Snack

  • Reverse Diet Cucumber Delights

Dinner

  • Reverse Diet Banana Split
  • Hot Lemon Water

Excerpted from “The Reverse Diet: Lose 20, 50, 100 Pounds or More by Eating Dinner for Breakfast and Breakfast for Dinner” by Tricia Cunningham and Heidi Skolnik. Copyright 2006 by Tricia Cunningham and Heidi Skolnik. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons. No part of this excerpt can be used without permission of the publisher.

Eating dinner for breakfast isn’t any different from eating breakfast for dinner. Ultimately it’s all about fueling your body through food, no matter what time of day you are eating. Rethink that bowl of cereal and consider more nutrient-dense common dinner plates.

We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If that is the case, why are so many common breakfast foods lacking in nutrition? The first meal of the day doesn’t need to be your typical cereal and milk, or bagel with cream cheese. Neither one of those choices is packed with much goodness. They may, in fact, do more harm than good.

Ditch the meal labels

Why not focus on the nutrients you need to get through your morning, regardless of what “meal label” has been placed on them? If it’s OK to have an omelet for dinner, it is perfectly OK to have a soup and salad for breakfast. Just make sure that soup and salad is full of goodness!

Let’s remember that breakfast is touted as the most important meal of the day, yet thousands of consumers fuel their body with typical breakfast foods that do everything but the fuel the body! Take cereal, for instance; there is very little fuel in cereal. Cereal is not going to get you through the morning with the right nutrients. If you haven’t checked out the nutrition label on a box of cereal lately, you should!

Start your day with protein

Always keep in mind it’s best to start your day with high-quality protein. It’s great for your muscles and it digests slowly so you’ll make it through the morning without feeling hungry and reaching for something unhealthy.

It’s also very important to consume organic fruit. The small amount of carbohydrates will restore liver glycogen levels, providing your muscles — and your brain — the fuel they need to function at their peak. Fruit also helps keep your body hydrated, which supports mental clarity.

Getting enough fiber is also of utmost importance. Fiber can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels.

What to look for in the morning

Try changing your morning meal and see what a difference it makes. I encourage you to look for high-quality organic foods that are GMO-free and as natural as possible. Remember, you may think you’re eating healthy foods, but when the nutrition label takes a while to read and you have trouble pronouncing the ingredients, it is no longer healthy for you. The fewer ingredients, the better!

Dinner meal ideas to eat in the morning

1

Love Mexican food?

Try organic black bean tacos for breakfast. Mix black beans, avocado, fresh salsa and spinach into blue corn taco shells for a meal full of healthy fats, protein and carbohydrates. Try topping them with fresh mango for a sweet twist and get a serving of fruit at the same time. You can also add some fresh jalapenos, which are loaded with amazing health benefits, such as capsaicin and vitamin C.

2

Go traditional

Go traditional with baked organic chicken and quinoa with broccoli and carrots. Lightly season with pepper and pink Himalayan salt, and you will be full and satisfied for the next several hours. You are getting your fill of protein, carbs and fiber with a very simple, yet filling dish.

3

Have pasta

In other countries, having pasta for breakfast is an everyday occurrence. Boil some brown-rice pasta with fresh tomatoes, basil, peas, orange bell peppers and red onions. Brown-rice pasta is gluten-free and full of fiber. Add a rainbow of veggies and you’re ready to start your day with plenty of energy and hydration.

4

Enjoy a kale salad

Toss red onion, strawberries, edamame and walnuts with almond oil, plus salt and pepper. Add some baked sweet potato wedges on the side and you have a breakfast full of goodness that will fill you up, keep you focused and keep your blood sugar in check for hours.

TIP

If you are a vegetarian/vegan, try adding a plant-based protein to any of the above meals.

On-the-go meal idea

Looking for something quick on the go? Try an all-natural organic peanut butter with fresh, organic strawberry and banana slices on organic whole-grain bread. Rather than use traditional jelly, use real fruit slices. You eliminate the added sugar in traditional jellies and jams, and eating whole fruit in the raw is always best. If you haven’t tried fresh-ground nut butters before, now is the time. Check out your local health food market, where you can grind your own peanut butter. This protein- and fiber-packed breakfast will keep you moving all morning and provide you with the fuel and focus to start the day. It’s the perfect breakfast option for kids!

More nutrition tips

How to eat healthy when you dine out
Haylie Duff’s five healthy cooking must-haves
Whole foods that will help you lose weight

Breakfast for non breakfast eaters

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