Sunday night I had the joy of seeing one of my favorite bands (Trashcan Sinatras) play an exquisite live set at one of my favorite venues (Joe's Pub in New York City). When I got home a little bit before midnight, I did what any normal person would do: I started roasting a sweet potato. This wasn't to be a post-concert, pre-bed snack—that's dark chocolate and/or a small splash of Scotch—but rather breakfast for the next morning. Slightly tedious and time-consuming, sure, but otherwise I was going to be hungry for most of Monday.
That sounds weird, but it's the mechanism by which I operate. I eat the same thing or a version of it every morning. It keeps my mind and body from going off the rails, and that's important because I've learned the price I pay when I veer—low blood sugar, exhaustion, crankiness, lack of focus, general malaise, colleague biting, and whatnot. I should note for the record that I'm probably more regimented and limited than most people because I'm on a medically-prescribed Paleo diet to deal with a gut condition, but let's pretend I'm a normal human for the moment if you don't mind.
Even before this, most mornings were tough sledding, and I'd maybe manage to shove a handful of whatever into my mouth and chase it with too much coffee, or not even eat anything at all until two or three in the afternoon. No wonder I felt cruddy all the time. I feel like a dope for having weathered so many breakfastless mornings because it all just seemed too daunting.
So I cook the night before, usually double-teaming with dinner. The oven or grill is on anyway, so I'll roast those sweet potatoes (one of my few allowed carbs), throw in extra vegetables, make an extra portion of whatever protein's on the night's menu. In the morning, all I have to do is fill a bowl with arugula, re-heat the sweet potatoes (there are always sweet potatoes), vegetables, and protein quickly in a skillet, put those atop the greens, and quickly fry or scramble a couple of eggs to put on top. The whole process takes five minutes—10 tops—and makes me feel not just fed, but satisfied. Like I'm an adult human being who can on occasion treat her body as something other than a cloth-draped podium for the meat inside her skull.
It's such a small thing, a duh thing, but the difference that it's made in the way I approach the day is undeniable. I cook for myself in the morning—heat things up, really—but it feels like cooking and it makes me feel like I'm worth taking care of. I'm scattered fog in the morning, but if I can marshal my resources in the evening while I've still got the momentum of the day at my back, I do. It's an investment in several-hours-from-now me, and it's paid off every time.
If you're not a broken-gutted human like me and can ingest a variety of foods, you could make extra rice, pasta, grains, white potatoes, or noodles that aren't just leftovers, but specifically designated as your breakfast noodles. You might place oats or barley in the slow-cooker and wake up to a warm, hearty gift from your more coherent self. Crack an egg or drizzle maple syrup on top of it to codify this mess as your breakfast, and dig in. You may be too blissful and sleepy to give props to past you, but you'll catch up soon enough.