The Benefits of Eating Breakfast at Dinner

After a day of meetings at the office, followed by a three car pile-up adding an unexpected 30 minutes to the commute home, the last thing you want to do is get home and spend another 45 minutes in the kitchen fixing dinner. Before calling the pizza delivery guy for a rescue, consider that a quick, inexpensive, and nutritious dinner could be just an egg carton away.

“Having a light breakfast for dinner instead of the traditional dinnertime fare, such as pasta, meat and potatoes, and casserole, is beneficial for a number of reasons,” explains Dr. Gregory Coppola, D.O., an osteopathic board certified sports medicine physician from Erie, Pa., who also is a fellow within the Andrew Weil's University of Arizona's Integrative Medicine Fellowship in Tucson, Ariz. “The ingredients in breakfast foods are often less expensive, quicker to prepare, and, most importantly, lower in calories.”

Dr. Coppola says that many of his patients skip breakfast, are starving by lunchtime, and then wait six or seven hours before dinner, when they overeat. “Consuming so much of your daily calories just before you lie down for bed is bad for digestion,” says Dr. Coppola. The better option is to keep yourself satisfied throughout the day by eating healthy snacks between meals. “By dinnertime, all a person will require is something light. Breakfast foods like oatmeal, fruit smoothies, and omelets are great options,” says Dr.Coppola.

Omelets are quick and easy dinnertime meals that enable people to get in all the nutrients they need at once, rather than preparing three separate components of a dinner. Dr. Coppola suggests sautéing some vegetables, like mushrooms, spinach, and broccoli and adding the chopped vegetables to a mixture of one egg white with one egg with yolk (a lower cholesterol alternative to using two eggs with yolk) and low-fat cheese. Top with some salsa and avocado. “Instead of potatoes, serve fruit, or if you want the potatoes, only dish out half a serving,” instructs Dr. Coppola. And, finally, a small glass of juice (4-6 oz) helps add in any fruit servings missed earlier in the day.

Another fast breakfast for dinner option is making a smoothie. Dr. Coppola suggests this recipe for a healthy smoothie: combine half a banana with one-fourth cup of blueberries, a scoop of protein mix, milk, and some peach slices.

While some may think this is not nearly enough food to satisfy them after a long day, Dr. Coppola stresses again the importance of eating your calories at regular intervals throughout the day. “Most of the energy you need from food is used during the course of the day. If you’re constantly refueling yourself throughout the day, you won’t feel so depleted when evening comes, where so many tend to overeat and then lie around.” Dr. Coppola recommends low calorie, mid-meal snacks in the morning and afternoon, like almonds, to help people stave of hunger.

“In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether you are eating breakfast foods or dinner foods at night, as long as you’re watching your portion sizes and the nutritional content is balanced,” adds Dr. Coppola.

Preventive medicine is just one aspect of care osteopathic physicians (D.O.s) provide. D.O.s are fully-licensed to prescribe medicine and practice in all specialty areas including surgery. D.O.s are trained to consider the health of the whole person and use their hands to help diagnose and treat their patients.

October 6, 2009
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