Better Breakfasts: Overnight Oats

Your mother always told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, despite this widely touted piece of conventional wisdom, less than half of Americans actually report regularly fueling their tanks in the morning. Further, if you are attempting to shed a few pounds, consuming that first meal takes on even greater importance.

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Your mother always told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, despite this widely touted piece of conventional wisdom, less than half of Americans actually report regularly fueling their tanks in the morning. Further, if you are attempting to shed a few pounds, consuming that first meal takes on even greater importance.

Consider the following breakfast benefits from a psychological and behavioral standpoint:

Minimize late-day cravings. Dieters often reason that if they are not hungry upon waking, then it makes sense to skip breakfast to “save” those calories. However, research clearly shows that skipping breakfast almost invariably leads to overeating later in the day, usually resulting in a higher caloric total at the day’s end compared to folks who eat a morning meal.

Set the tone. Starting the day with a nutritious meal is a way to remind yourself that you are a person who values healthy behaviors. Thus, as you proceed through the day, your subsequent choices around food and exercise may very well be influenced by your earlier decision to nurture your well-being. 

Defend against deprivation. Eating a breakfast that you find tasty and satisfying will serve as powerful ammunition against those feelings of deprivation that sometimes arise during weight-loss efforts. When you start your day with an enjoyable meal, you will be less likely to feel the need to indulge later to “reward” yourself for your restraint.

Ease into your morning. Rushing out the door just minutes after waking is no way to begin your day. Instead, starting your day by calmly sitting down to a meal will allow you to organize your thoughts, to spend some time with family, and to boost your mood before you venture out into the world.

Here’s one of my favorite recipes. This is an excellent option for folks who’d prefer to spend time eating – rather than preparing – their breakfast in the morning.

Overnight Oats

Basic Ingredients

1/3 cup uncooked rolled oats (not instant, not steel cut)

1/3 cup low-fat milk (dairy or non-dairy)

1/3 cup fat-free Greek yogurt

 

Possible Add-ins

½ cup fresh fruit – or –

½ cup pumpkin – or –

½ cup applesauce – or –

1 tbsp unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa

Directions: Mix uncooked oats, milk, and yogurt together in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in the refrigerator overnight. The consistency will be soupy after this initial mixing. 

Overnight, the oats will absorb the liquid from the milk and yogurt, and the mixture will expand and thicken. This absorption process, in essence, “cooks” the oats. In the morning, top the mixture with nutritious add-ins of your choice. The possibilities are endless for this high-protein, low-calorie, satisfying morning treat!

Blog written by Katie Rickel, PhD
Dr. Katie Rickel is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in weight management and health behavior modification. She...