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Roughly 10 percent of all Americans neglect to eat breakfast, many of them citing a lack of time to prepare a morning meal. But it's called the most important meal of the day for a reason, and there are many time-saving ways to ensure that you get that all-important energy boost to start your day. Submitted Photo

Most important meal of the day

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Do you skip breakfast? If you do, you're not alone.

According to a recent survey by the NDP group, 31 million Americans -- or about 10 percent of the U.S. population -- do not eat breakfast.

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People gave several reasons: they weren't hungry, they were too busy or they were trying to lose weight.

The study found females were more likely to skip a morning meal because they were running late or were too busy.

No matter what the reason, skipping breakfast isn't a good idea. But there are a lot of good reasons for starting your day with a good meal.

"Eating breakfast starts your body burning calories for the day," said Becky Westereng, a licensed registered dietitian with Altru Health System, who is a certified specialist in sports dietetics and is a certified diabetes educator.

"And it also prevents excessive hunger later on in the afternoon and evening."

Important for kids

Breakfast is especially important for children and adolescents.

According to the American Dietetic Association, children who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to have better concentration, problem-solving skills and eye-hand coordination.

They may also be more alert, creative and less likely to miss school.

Children, especially adolescents, are often in a hurry, and mornings are no exception.

So, when a sit-down breakfast made up of the four basic food groups is impossible, consider a grab-and-go item such as granola or breakfast bars, dried or fresh fruit or dry cereal.

Here are a few more breakfast tips from Westereng:

• Train your body to want breakfast by starting out with something small and gradually increasing the amount and variety of what you eat.

• If the challenge is "I don't have time," pack a breakfast the night before and bring it along to work or school.

• Eat leftovers.

• Try a blend-and-go breakfast such as a fruit/vegetable smoothie.

• Make a week's worth of breakfast on the weekend.

Another good breakfast option is pancakes.

"They can be a great start to breakfast," Westereng said.

"A quick breakfast idea includes a cold leftover oatmeal pancake with a small amount of peanut butter or other nut butter and a glass of milk," she added.

"This breakfast provides whole grain carbohydrates, fiber, protein and calcium. Eating breakfast will give your body the energy it needs for a healthy and productive day."

Making the change

I enjoy a bowl of oatmeal every morning.

I've found it is a great way to start the day before hitting the gym.

But for years, when working full-time, I used to be one of those people who didn't eat breakfast, and my excuses ran the gamut:

I was trying to lose weight and didn't have time.

Well, research has shown the practice of skipping breakfast in an effort to keep excess pounds off is more likely to cause weight gain.

In fact, several studies suggest people tend to accumulate more body fat when they eat fewer, larger meals than when they eat the same number of calories in smaller, more frequent meals.

Now that I'm working part time, I can't use those same excuses that I used to.

And to be honest, I wouldn't want to skip breakfast, anyway.

It's called "the most important meal of the day" for a reason.

(Tiedeman is the food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or email at jtiedeman@gfherald.com.)

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