The Hatch-Palucks, Week 4: Confessions of a Breakfast Hater
Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge
Hi, my name is Amy, and I hate breakfast.
In fact, my idea of a morning meal is two cups of steaming caffeine with a side of heavy cream.
What? There's calcium and vitamin D in cream. Stop looking at me that way.
Yeah, that's exactly the same look the nutritionist gave me when she started grilling me on our family's food choices last week. We haven't managed to find a nutritional consultant to work with our family (I don't know why, we're a cake walk!), so I had a 30-minute free session with Melissa Smith, the registered dietitian at the Mettler Center in Champaign, Ill. It was time to tell the truth, and nothing but the whole truth, and I won't lie -- it was embarrassing.
Do I eat breakfast, she asked? No, no I do not.
How much cream do I put in my coffee, enough to change the color? Yes, yes indeed.
"So when do you eat for the first time every day?" Melissa asked, a tolerant smile on her face. "And what do you eat?"
For Pete's sake.
"Um, well," I stammered.
OK, OK! I eat a danish, alright! A cherry danish! At 11 a.m.! And I drink more coffee! But it gets worse. My lunch choices -- usually a sandwich from my favorite sub shop or fast food -- are no better. Even if I get the veggie hoagie, I'm eating 65 grams of carbs, just at lunch. One serving of carbs is supposed to be 15 grams.
Melissa says the dinners I make are pretty decent (lean protein and veggies), but the fact that Channing and I are snacking on yet more carbs (who knew banana bread isn't a protein?) just about every night isn't the best strategy for a slender new physique. If I follow her lead, Melissa says, I can lose those pesky 10 pounds that have been dogging me since Emmie was born almost six years ago.
She was very sympathetic to our plight -- busy family, taste for white flour -- because her own circumstances are similar. She has a little boy of her own, and we commiserated about how having a kid or two can wreak havoc on your eating habits and metabolism.
Then Melissa drew me a chart, showing me how my blood sugar reacts to my current diet, and it looked like the Florida coastline during a category 5 hurricane -- surges of highs and an ugly undertow.
"The kind of energy you're getting from the foods you're choosing is forcing your body to burn it very quickly, resulting in all these highs and lows," she said, pointing at the chart with her pen. "What you want is a nice, even wave."
Taming that hurricane is especially important because I have a history of gestational diabetes. With my first pregnancy, I was able to control it with diet, but during my second, I had to inject myself with insulin before every meal and before bed. Having what my grandfather called "The Sugar" twice during pregnancy means I am more likely than the average person to develop adult-onset diabetes.
"Basically, I say everyone should eat as though they already have diabetes," the nutritionist told me, with a smile to soften the blow.
That means more lean protein, fruits and veggies. Five small meals a day -- starting with the dreaded breakfast.
And no mid-morning pastry. Alas, cherry danish, I hardly knew ye.
Modeling sitting down to eat breakfast for the kids is one of the most important things I can do, says this eating expert. She told me to buy nuts and a specific brand of zero-fat Greek yogurt and stir them together for a low-fat, protein-packed meal in a hurry. I gave it a go, and I didn't hate it.
Emmie and Henry won't eat eggs, but Smith added that eating them myself while the kids are sitting with me could eventually persuade the munchkins to give them a go. Channing eats organic cereal for breakfast (even though he hates it, too, we're a match made at brunch), and I ate a morning meal every day this week -- including an egg. I hate to admit it, but I feel better when I eat in the morning.
Just as long as I can still have my coffee. With cream.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.