Many people have heard it said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but some still don’t treat it as such. In fact, most people don’t seem to make time for breakfast at all, simply preferring to grab something like a bagel, donut or granola bar while heading out the door. However, more consumers and food service management operations are realizing the importance of the day’s first meal, and many are taking strides to make breakfast a healthier, more attractive choice – especially on a hospital menu.
For example, Food Management magazine recently reported that Indiana University Health-Bloomington came up with an initiative called the LiveWell Breakfast Challenge to promote healthier breakfasts among staff members. The 28-day challenge aimed to get participants to eat healthier breakfasts on a daily basis. In order to do this, the hospital food service revamped its breakfast menu to offer nutritious options like oatmeal bars, Greek yogurt and turkey sausage.
Those who were involved in the program were also given education and support materials to enhance their efforts. According to the magazine, after the completion of the program, the majority of the 318 employees who participated reported feeling more confident about how to make smarter breakfast choices and noticed benefits from eating better morning meals.
So why exactly is breakfast so important, and what constitutes a good breakfast ideal for hospital room service?
The importance of the morning meal
According to Diabetes Forecast Magazine, breakfast is crucial for giving you the energy to make it through an entire day without experiencing negative effects on overall health. Breakfast gets your body prepped for the day and helps stave off hunger, which can cause the body to hold on to fat stores and gain weight as a result. Breakfast has also been shown to help people be more productive both at work and at school, and it can increase mental clarity. This is important not only for hospital patients, but for hospital staff too.
In addition, breakfast eaters have been shown to make healthier eating choices throughout the day compared to those who skip breakfast, according to the source. People who don’t eat breakfast often snack more, eat unhealthier snacks, drink more soda, are more likely to eat more at night and are more often heavier than individuals who eat breakfast.
Ingredients for a healthy breakfast
Everyday Health reported that the healthiest breakfasts are those made up of protein, carbohydrates and small amounts of heart-healthy fats. Protein makes you alert and keeps you feeling full for longer, while carbohydrates provide energy and often fiber, which helps aid in digestion.
Good breakfast options to include on your hospital menu are Greek yogurt, eggs, fat-free or 1-percent milk, berries, melon, whole-wheat toast, whole-grain waffles, peanut butter, multi-grain cereal, vegetable omelets, turkey sausage or bacon, and nuts. Feel free to get creative with the combinations – and remember that breakfast doesn’t necessarily have to be made up of breakfast foods. For example, the source recommended trying whole-grain English muffin pizzas with low-fat cheese and vegetables, or an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich on whole-wheat toast. With savory options like these, patients and hospital staff alike can get more excited about their first meal of the day.
Smoothies are also a great way to start the day off right. With low-fat dairy, vegetables like kale or spinach, plenty of fruits and add-ins like green tea powder or flaxseed, a smoothie can be packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can boost overall health and contribute to patient satisfaction.