American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

The Benefits of Eating Breakfast at Dinner

Family gathering for a mealAfter a day of meetings at the office followed by a hectic commute, the last thing you want to do is get home and spend another 45 minutes in the kitchen fixing dinner. Before calling your favorite takeout place 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 Natalie A. Nevins, DO, a board-certified family physician in Downey, California. “The ingredients in breakfast foods are often less expensive, quicker to prepare, and, most importantly, lower in calories.” 

Eating a Light Dinner

Dr. Nevins says that many of her 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. Nevins. 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 with nuts, fruit smoothies, and omelets are great options,” says Dr. Nevins.

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. Nevins 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 or no-dairy cheese. Top with some salsa and avocado. “Instead of potatoes, serve fruit, or if you want the potatoes, bake instead of fry. Only dish out half a serving,” instructs Dr. Nevins.

Another fast breakfast for dinner option is making a smoothie. Dr. Nevins suggests this recipe for a healthy smoothie: combine half a banana with one-fourth cup of blueberries, a scoop of protein mix, milk or non-dairy alternatives such as almond or soy milk, and some peach slices. 

Pacing Your Meals

While some may think this is not nearly enough food to satisfy them after a long day, Dr. Nevins 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. Nevins recommends low calorie, mid-meal snacks in the morning and afternoon, like almonds and a piece of fruit, to help people stave off 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. Nevins. ​​​​

 

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