By Miranda Massie on March 7, 2018
I love breakfast. Besides being one of those people who MUST eat something within an hour of waking up, I also just love breakfast food. Sweet, savoury, hot, cold, liquid, solid – it’s one of the most versatile meals around.
How many of you have heard that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”? Particularly in North America, this common social understanding dates back to childhood, and despite evidence to support it, many people still don’t eat breakfast. 
Now, I’m not here to get all parental and tell you what to do. Instead, in honour of National Nutrition Month, I’d like to share my love of breakfast. Here are my four reasons to feed your brain the most delicious meal of the day!
If you’re someone who needs variety, eating the same breakfast day after day may not sound very appetizing. Below is a go-to recipe that uses seasonally available ingredients and can be customized to your tastes. You can also find more oatmeal-topping ideas here.
Miranda’s Custom Make-ahead Oatmeal:
|5 cups||Quick oats|
|1 cup||Nut of your choice
(almond slices, toasted pecans, walnuts
|1 cup||Seed of your choice
(sunflower, pumpkin, chia, hemp)
|1 cup||Dried fruit of your choice
(cranberries, apricots, pineapple, banana)
|1 cup||Dried shredded coconut|
|Optional||Sliced fresh fruit (apples, banana, berries)|
- Prep ingredients in advance.
- Scoop 1/4 to 1/3 cup of your oatmeal into a bowl or Tupperware container. Add water.
- Microwave for 2 minutes. Enjoy!
Time can be a big barrier, but it doesn’t have to take ages to prepare breakfast. Here is a list of time-tested meal ideas to keep you moving in the morning:
- Miranda’s Custom Make-ahead Oatmeal (see above)
- Total time: 2 minutes, 30 seconds (30 seconds to scoop + 2 minutes to microwave)
- Toasted English muffin with melted cheese
- Total time: 1 minute, 30 seconds (1 minute in toaster + 30 seconds to melt cheese)
- Night-before yogurt parfait
- Total time: 2 minutes night before, no time in the morning (45 seconds to scoop yogurt + 45 seconds to add frozen fruit + 30 seconds to pack granola)
- Nut butter Eggo
- Total time: 1 minute, 30 seconds (1 minute to toast frozen Eggo waffle + 30 seconds to spread nut butter of choice)
- Make-ahead breakfast egg cups 
- Total time: 31 minutes (30 minutes to make head of time + 45 seconds to microwave on the go)
It makes you smarter
Food fuels our bodies. The same way that wood fuels a fire, we can’t function optimally or survive without it. When we sleep, we fast for six to eight hours, which means the longer we put off eating, the longer our bodies have to try and function without fuel. Breakfast can help support our brains to do great things and be productive. It also prevents us from being distracted by rumbling tummies. Read more about the effects of nutrients on brain function. 
Another barrier to breakfast is cost. We often assume that it’s easier to make a quick stop at a coffee shop, but this routine can end up being more expensive over time. For example, a yogurt parfait and a banana loaf from Starbucks costs $6.63 including tax, but you can get the equivalent items — all homemade by UBC nutrition students – at the Agora Café for $4. It also pays (pun intended) to be prepared. Prepping your meals in advance (as per the time saving tips above) is another way to cut costs.
This month, I invite you to rise and shine with breakfast, and if that’s not for you, find a way to incorporate an early morning snack into your routine a few days a week. Turning meals into social events (a potluck brunch perhaps?) is a great way to start.
All my best,
Photo credit: UBC Communications & Marketing
By Miranda Massie on July 3, 2014
The following article has been provided by Dr. Joti Samra, a local clinical psychologist.
One-third of Canadian adults suffer from insomnia (trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early). A number of factors can contribute, with stress being a primary culprit. What most people don’t know is that, independent of the stressors we are dealing with, we can make changes in our sleep routine and environment that can effectively enhance the quality of our sleep.
- Create a bedtime routine that is relaxing; have decaffeinated tea, warm milk, or a warm bath. Make a clear distinction between daytime (alert) activities and bedtime (relaxing) activities.
- Make your bedroom environment comfortable and conducive to sleep (e.g., get comfortable pillow and bedding; keep room temperature moderate; darken the room).
- Restrict your bed for 2 activities – sleep and sex. Do not watch TV, eat, talk on the phone, argue, or use your computer while in bed.
- If you can’t fall asleep within 15-20 minutes, get out of bed and do not get back into bed until you are sleepy (not just tired).
- Having a consistent, fixed wake-up time (even on weekends!) is one of the most important factors in building a consistent sleep pattern. Expose yourself to outside light (e.g., open blinds) upon waking.
- If you are having sleep problems, do not nap! Naps interfere with the restorative value of sleep later on that night. The best strategy is to get into bed earlier that evening.
- Do not have caffeine after 12pm – 1pm (the half life of caffeine is 5 hours – which means that 5 hours after having caffeine, 50% of the caffeine is still left in your body; it takes another 5 hours to have the caffeine be reduced in half, to 25%).
- Do not smoke or exercise 2-3 hours before bedtime.
- Limit alcohol intake as even one glass can interfere with sleep quality and makes sleep less restorative.
Reminder: UBC staff and faculty have extended benefits that provide $1200 coverage per annum to see a Registered Psychologist.
Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych., is a clinical psychologist and organizational and media consultant. She is the host of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Million Dollar Neighbourhood” and was the psychological consultant to CITY-TV’s “The Bachelor Canada”. She has also served as a psychological consultant and expert to a number of other TV shows and news outlets. Dr. Samra maintains a clinical practice in Vancouver. Her website is www.drjotisamra.com and she can be followed @drjotisamra