About Lynn

lynn jaffeeLynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist and the author of the book, Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health, a clear and concise explanation of Chinese medicine for the lay person. She is co-author of the book, The BodyWise Woman, a personal health manual for physically active women and girls. Read more about Lynn...

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Seven Things to Know About Breakfast

I love breakfast! When I think about eating in the morning, I conjure up my dad, who was an early riser. Dad made it his personal mission to ensure that us kids started the day with a hearty breakfast. It was always hot, served up with a dose of optimism, and he never repeated the same meal two days in a row. So, I’m a big fan of breaking the fast first thing in the morning. Whether its scrambled eggs, oatmeal, bagels and lox or a breakfast burrito, count me in!

It turns out that eating breakfast is a good thing. According to the Chinese horary clock, maximum energy passes through each of the twelve organ pathways in two-hour increments throughout the day. The time of day that Minneapolis acupuncture cliniccorresponds to the Stomach is between 7 and 9 am, right when you should be eating…uh, breakfast. Furthermore, right after the 7 to 9 am breakfast shift, the Spleen, which is responsible for your digestion, kicks in from 9 to 11 am. Beyond the Chinese horary clock, here are a few other things to know about breakfast:

1) You should be hungry first thing in the morning. If you aren’t hungry in the morning, it may be a general sign of digestive weakness, possibly from eating a lot of food late at night when your digestion is ebbing, or from regularly skipping meals.

2) While I’m a big fan of the big feed first thing, breakfast doesn’t have to be huge, but it has to be enough to get you going.

3) To get you through the morning until lunch, make sure that your breakfast includes a little protein. It will level out your blood sugar, and keep you feeling full longer.

4) While you’re including protein, make sure you jettison the doughnut, pastry, or sugar-laden breakfast shake. A lot of sugar at breakfast (or any time, for that matter) will quickly spike your blood sugar, and just as quickly tank it, leaving you feeling hungry, weak, and jittery.

5) Choose foods that are best for your body type. You might need a little help here from a practitioner of Chinese medicine. However, a basic rule of thumb is if you run cold, choose warming foods like oatmeal, quinoa, salmon (lox), cinnamon, and ginger. In addition, coffee is energetically warming, so it’s an okay choice if you’re neutral or cold, not so good if you’re having lots of hot flashes or run hot in general. If you run hot most of the time, go for the cooler foods like most fruits, barley, wheat, yogurt, and mint. Eggs are pretty neutral in temperature, so they are a good choice for most people. In addition, if you’re having digestive issues, cooked foods tend to be easier to digest than raw.

6) Choose your breakfast foods according to the seasons. In the summer, cooling foods like yogurt and fruit, or non-sweetened fruit smoothies are a good choice. In the winter, use cooked grains, porridge, and even soups to warm you from the inside out.

7) Breakfast doesn’t have to be breakfast food. It can be soup, porridge, cooked grains, whole grain pita with hummus and avocado, and even your left over stir-fry from last night. There are no hard and fast rules here.

The old adage goes that you should eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. I’m on board with eating like a king in the morning. Eating a good breakfast generates energy, is well-digested, and it gets you through the day.

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