Yesterday, I had a pretty typical day, except around 4 p.m. I started getting a headache that just would not go away. It got progressively worse through the evening. Ibuprofen didn’t help. By 9 p.m., my head was pounding so hard I couldn’t read, couldn’t sit in the light, couldn’t work on the computer, so I just went to bed.
I don’t typically get headaches. It’s pretty rare for me to ever have to take medication for a headache, and even rarer for a headache to be so bad I can’t stay awake. When I reflected on my day, I found one aspect of my “typical” day that wasn’t so typical.
I skipped breakfast.
I tried to compensate by eating a slightly-earlier-than-usual lunch, but at lunch I was so hungry that I gobbled down my food very quickly (never a good idea), and by 4 p.m. I was starving again and I started feeling the headache. It didn’t matter that it was a larger lunch than I usually eat (another attempt to compensate). Fourteen hours after my casual decision that I’d work through breakfast and make up for it with an earlier and larger lunch, I was down for the count.
We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. While we understand the reasoning behind this – in the morning it has usually been about 12 hours since the last meal and the body needs nourishment – we are still skipping breakfast. An estimated 31 million Americans (10% of the population) do not routinely eat breakfast. Approximately 60-80% of us eat breakfast some days, but not regularly. This is a contrast to other countries – about 85% of British citizens eat breakfast each day, and 95% of the French.
Evidence also suggests that a healthy breakfast can improve your fertility. By eating breakfast in the morning, you are less inclined to over-indulge throughout the day and evening, which helps with weight management. Eating breakfast regularly also helps regulate blood sugar and hormone management, and sets the foundation for health and energy for the rest of the day.
By contrast, skipping breakfast leads to increased insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances, adrenal fatigue and low energy – all conditions that can adversely impact fertility and/or result in a higher instance of miscarriage, especially if you suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Women with PCOS are more resistant to insulin which can be managed, according to a 2013 study, through eating a substantial and healthy breakfast.
Studies have also linked skipping breakfast to a condition called dysmenorrhea among young women in Japan. Dysmenorrhea is excessive menstrual pain that is usually linked to an underlying gynecological disease or disorder.
I was a longtime breakfast skipper. When I began eating breakfast regularly about 5 years ago, I noticed that rather than bursts of gorging, I had steadier eating patterns throughout the day. I also noticed an increased energy level, which led to higher productivity during the day, and a better mood. My weight also didn’t see-saw as much.
Enjoying a healthy weight, not feeling hungry, having more energy, getting more done, feeling better – it’s a no-brainer! Breakfast rocks!
Suggestions for a healthy, fertility-friendly breakfast:
- A bowl of steel-cut oats topped with fresh berries and cinnamon. Whole grains like steel-cut oats are filled with fiber, which is important for both hormonal and blood sugar balance. The berries are chock-full of antioxidants and other healing elements.
- One of my favorite light breakfasts is a bowl of nuts and berries. Nuts are one of the most nutrient-dense foods on earth and a fertility powerhouse! They are rich in fiber, protein, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which support hormonal balance, egg and sperm maturation, embryonic development and implantation. Make sure the nuts are raw and unsalted. I love raw almonds, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries mixed together. Sometimes I top it with a little unsweetened coconut for added oomph.
- I’ve also been known to eat greens for breakfast! Sometimes I’ll sautee up a littlekale with lemon juice and sea salt, which is packed with folate, iron, calcium and manganese (a mineral recognized to help women get pregnant faster).
- Sometimes my husband and I have Greek salad for breakfast, a practice we stumbled upon during a trip to Greece and continued after we returned home. The Greek salad includes tomato, cucumber, red onion, green pepper, feta cheese, olive oil and oregano. Make sure you use organically grown vegetables. The olive oil contains Vitamin E which is also found in the follicular fluid surrounding the developing egg. While it’s best to avoid a lot of dairy while trying to conceive, a moderate amount of feta on a salad is okay.
- When you want a heartier breakfast, try a salmon omelette, with a side of fresh berries and a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice. The salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for embryo development and implantation. The oranges are full of Vitamin C which stabilizes and promotes ovulation. Squeeze the oranges yourself. For an extra boost add a little spinach to your omelette – it’s loaded with folate, iron, and other vitamins and minerals that boost fertility.
- Since I love Mexican-inspired food, one of my favorite hearty breakfasts is eggs scrambled with tomato, green pepper and onion, with a side of sliced avocado andblack beans. Avocado and beans are two fertility superfoods – avocado is rich in healthy fats and beans are a great source of protein.
While eating breakfast may not guarantee that you’ll have a great day, it’s an easy way to get on the right path to one! I didn’t skip it today and I’m feeling so much better! Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.