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You’ve heard it before — breakfast is the most important meal of the day — but it is also the meal that we’re most likely to skip. Having breakfast every day can increase your nutritional intake, improve your concentration, boost your energy, and even help you lose weight. Try the following tips to start developing the breakfast habit.
1. Create Meal Plans
Breakfast will never happen if you don’t plan for it. Just as many people plan their dinners for the week (even if only in their heads), try planning what you’re going to eat for breakfast throughout the week. Buy the groceries you’ll need and the battle is already half won.
2. Pack Your Breakfast
If you’re rushed to get out the door in the morning, pack your breakfast just as you would pack a lunch. To make it even easier, make it a breakfast you don’t have to refrigerate, so you can just stow it in your purse or bag the night before. A whole fruit, like a banana or apple, and some low- or no-sugar granola with plenty of nuts will easily keep overnight and are easy to take to-go. Alternatively, prepare a packed breakfast and store it in the fridge (perhaps along with a packed lunch) so you can grab it and go.
3. Eat What You Like
If you’re not a fan of traditional breakfast foods, feel free to eat something you like. An egg salad sandwich, for example, is a great replacement for scrambled eggs and toast. Or, you could reheat last night’s leftovers. You can even have a salad for breakfast if you like! Just try to avoid sugar-laden convenience foods, which can add a lot of calories (and not a lot of nutrition) to your daily diet.
4. Gradually Ramp Up
If you don’t feel hungry first thing in the morning, start the breakfast habit by introducing small amounts of food gradually. For instance, sip on a veggie-packed smoothie (keep the sugar down and the protein up by using unsweetened almond milk and/or adding a spoonful of nut butter or protein powder). Or start with something small like a banana or a single scrambled egg. As you get used to eating in the morning, add more food in small amounts.
5. Prep Ahead
Prepare your ingredients for breakfast ahead of time so you can quickly assemble your meal in the morning. Chop the vegetables for an omelet the night before, wash and cut up fruit, and pre-portion frozen fruit for smoothies. Overnight oats are a popular and easy choice — mix rolled oats with double the amount of milk or other liquid and place in the fridge overnight. Add nuts and berries in the morning.
Planning your breakfast ahead of time also means you won’t waste precious time deciding what to eat in the morning.
6. Batch-Cook Your Breakfasts
If you don’t have time to cook a different breakfast every day, consider preparing a few days’ worth of breakfasts at once. Portion out granola and berries into separate individual bags or containers for each day. Boil several eggs and keep them in the refrigerator for easy morning protein. Make a muffin tin full of breakfast vegetable, low-fat cheese and egg frittatas and reheat them individually in the microwave each morning. Sauté a pan full of turkey sausage and peppers and portion them into individual containers to store in the fridge. Having the food already prepared will make a big difference in your willingness to eat breakfast.
7. Keep Food at the Office
My husband keeps a box of low-sugar instant oatmeal at his office, as well as deli meat and cheese. This has worked very well for him in ensuring he gets something relatively healthy to eat in the morning, instead of just donuts and coffee. If getting breakfast ready at home isn’t possible, keeping food at the office might do the trick.
8. Get Up Earlier
If you’re serious about making breakfast a daily habit, it’s best to get up earlier to give yourself time to eat a nutritious meal. Try shifting your schedule so you get to bed and get up 15 minutes earlier. Who knows? You might find that having a more leisurely morning helps to set a more relaxed tone for the day as well.
9. Set Realistic Goals
If your mornings are hectic and you’re not the type to sit down for a leisurely breakfast, try to find a breakfast routine that fits your lifestyle. Whether it’s grabbing something to eat on the road, or batch-cooking a week’s worth of meals in advance, start with dishes you enjoy that are simple to prepare.
What’s your morning routine? How do you typically fit breakfast into your day?
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please consult your physician before beginning this or any diet program. This article is sponsored by Cigna. It is for educational purposes only and is intended to promote consumer health. It is not intended as medical advice and you should always consult a professional for medical advice. For other tips on using your health benefits, visit http://www.cigna.com/takecontrol/. All Cigna products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation.