A large Diet Coke.
A granola bar.
Whatever’s out at the office – donuts, coffee cake, etc.
These are all answers I’ve received when asking clients, “What do you usually eat for breakfast?”
Skipping breakfast or eating a nutritionally deficient breakfast is one of the worst mistakes that an ADHDer can make. Let’s take a bagel breakfast, for example, although we could use any of the items in the above list. That bagel is mostly carbohydrates, and simple carbohydrates at that. When digested, those simple carbohydrates raise your blood sugar, along with your energy. Your blood sugar quickly spikes and drops, however, and so does your energy.
When your blood sugar and energy drop, your body looks for a way to bring them back up, and you crave more of the same simple carbohydrates that caused the spike and drop in the first place. So it’s likely that your lunch or mid-morning snack will consist of more simple carbs, like breads or even candy. Or you might perk yourself up with some coffee, because caffeine has a similar effect.
And thus the cycle continues all day long. Your blood sugar spikes and dips. As a result your energy spikes and dips. You look for a way to quickly boost your energy, and end up eating more and more nutritionally deficient food.
Of course, this is a terrible cycle for your general health, but it’s also a terrible predicament for you to find yourself in as an adult with ADHD. When your energy dips, so do your ADHD management skills. With little energy to fuel you, you’re likely to become tired. Your focus is sure to suffer. You may find yourself procrastinating more, and unable to manage your time properly. And willpower can only go so far when physiology is working against you.
This roller coaster energy cycle will continue until you put a stop to it by making a very important change: eating a nutritionally balanced breakfast in the morning. Here’s what you’ll want to include:
- Protein. The best sources of breakfast protein are eggs, meat, nuts, nut butters (like almond butter) and dairy (like plain yogurt without extra sugar). Protein helps slow down the digestive process and helps you feel full and satisfied. It keeps your blood sugar level for longer periods of time, and helps you avoid the sabotaging cycle of blood sugar spike and crash. And most protein sources contain natural, healthy fats that we all need in a balanced diet.
- Fiber. The best sources of breakfast protein are whole fruits (berries are a great breakfast fruit), vegetables, and whole grain toast or cereal (like steel cut oats). Fiber also helps keep you full and satisfied and keeps your blood sugar stable.
- Water. Staying hydrated helps your body perform all it’s necessary functions.
Some healthy, balanced breakfasts that will support your energy include:
- A vegetable omelet.
- Whole grain toast with almond butter and a banana.
- Yogurt with berries and nuts.
- Bacon (yes, even bacon is okay sometimes) and oatmeal with apples.
Be sure to include a glass of water! And although you’ll probably get all the carbohydrates you need in a breakfast balanced with protein and fiber, don’t feel like you have to give up the goodies if you don’t want to. It’s okay to round out your breakfast with a small muffin or other treat in addition to the protein and fiber foods.
And yes, it can be difficult to make or cook yourself a balanced breakfast when you’re already pressed for time in the morning. Consider making an omelet or whole grain cereal in advance, and having plenty of fresh fruit, yogurt, and nuts in your fridge.
How does a balanced breakfast impact your day? Tell us in the comments!
P.S. For more information and tips to support weight management and healthier eating habits, join us for the ADHD & Weight Management Online Seminar! It begins tomorrow, but TODAY IS THE LAST DAY for discounted registration!