If you’re a longtime WVFC reader, you’ve probably seen many articles by our nutrition writer Keri Gans, on topics ranging from the benefits of chocolate to vitamin D and fiber. So you can understand our excitement at the publication of her book, The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner, Healthier You (Gallery Books, $15). To kick off our month of self-health and renewal, here’s a short excerpt that will help get your month—and your day—off to a terrific start. We’ll be back with a review of the book later this month.  –Ed.

Let’s Start at the Beginning . . . With Breakfast!

If you want to be thin, you need to start doing what thin people do, and that is eat breakfast. Want to lose fifteen pounds? Instead of signing up for a trendy 6 a.m. gym class, you’re better off signing up for breakfast.

When Stephanie, twenty-four, first came to me, she was skipping breakfast and consuming too many calories later in the day. After two weeks of simply committing to breakfast, Stephanie lost three pounds. “I feel fuller during the day,” she said. Thirteen months later and still thirty pounds lighter, Stephanie continues to enjoy her nonfat plain yogurt, blueberries, and high-fiber cereal in the morning.

After being in private practice for more than ten years, I have heard every possible excuse for skipping breakfast:

I have no time to eat in the morning.
Small Change Solution:
Breakfast can be very quick and simple. It does not require a lot of effort to prepare or cost a lot of money. Do you have five minutes for a bathroom break? Or one extra “snooze” when your alarm clock goes off? Then you have time for breakfast. Five minutes is all it really has to take. You can eat breakfast at home, in your office, or even on the run.

I am not hungry in the morning.
Small Change Solution:
In my practice, I have seen many breakfast dodgers who can’t remember the last time their breakfast was more than a cup of coffee. By lunchtime, they are way hungrier than they should be and wind up making poor meal decisions. Once you start eating breakfast regularly, you will find that your appetite changes in the morning. You will be hungry when you wake up, and better yet, your lunch choices improve.

I don’t want to waste the calories.
Small Change Solution:
When I hear a patient complain about “wasting calories” by eating breakfast, I just shake my head—nothing could be further from the truth. Breakfast is not only an opportunity to kick-start your metabolism and your day, it is also proven that eating breakfast leads you to eat fewer calories throughout the day.

How many hours are you up before eating breakfast? Ideally, I suggest eating within one to two hours of waking up. Typically the longer you wait to eat, the hungrier you will be.

If you cannot imagine eating breakfast, start slowly. Grab an energy bar, a piece of fruit, or a slice of toast. You can eat it at home, on the way to work or school, or at your desk.

The goal is to incorporate breakfast into your day, every day. It might not be 100 percent ideal at the beginning, but that’s where the Small Change solutions will move you along. Your first goal is to make breakfast as natural for you as brushing your teeth in the morning.

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  • roz warren March 1, 2011 at 10:31 am

    If I don’t start the day with a cup of strong coffee, a bowl of Cheerios and maybe a handful of carrots or berries it just doesn’t feel like a day to me. I’m glad to see there’s science to back me up. The Small Change Diet sounds like my kind of book. I can’t wait to read it.