COLUMBIA, Mo. – If hitting the snooze button three times is more appealing than having a bowl of cereal, you might be a skip-breakfast sinner.

While 93 percent of Americans know that breakfast is important, only 44 percent regularly eat something before walking out the door in the morning, according to a 2009 survey by the International Food Information Council Foundation.

“You might be surprised to know that if you skip breakfast, you might eat more during the day,” said Ellen Schuster, University of Missouri Extension associate state nutrition specialist.

The message that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is not new. Why do so many people ignore the message?

Perhaps the focus should be less on breakfast, Schuster said. “It doesn't necessarily have to be the first thing you do when you get up in the morning. Whether you call it breakfast or a snack or your morning meal, it’s important to try and eat something, whenever you can, as early as you can.”

That something can be just about anything.

“We used to think of certain foods as breakfast foods,” she said. “It had to be cereal, it had to be eggs. Now it could be leftovers or a breakfast burrito or a slice of pizza.”

If time is the issue, you don’t have to sit down to a fancy meal. There are lots of great “grab and go” foods, such as a hard-boiled egg, yogurt, small cold cereal cups, or banana and peanut butter rolled into a whole-wheat tortilla. Schuster suggests just trying to pick two or three items from different food groups, such as a fruit, a grain and a protein.

“You don’t have to prepare elaborate food. Just try and make something that at least will keep people’s appetites quenched in the morning,” she said.

Just a simple shift in attitude can change skip-breakfast sinners into healthy-eating saints.

For more information on nutrition from MU Extension, see and, or listen to a podcast on this topic featuring Ellen Schuster.