Allow us to turn this around and ask, What are you in the mood for? And, more importantly, What makes you feel good throughout the day?
Because, really, that’s what should inform your breakfast decisions.
But can we start somewhere, with real guidelines?
“You want to aim for a breakfast that combines good carbs and fiber with some protein and a little healthy fat,” says Kimberly Diamond, MS, CNS. “This first meal gives you a chance to jump-start your nutrition intake for the day, as well as refuel after an eight hour fast.”
(Of course, this assumes you eat breakfast. Not everyone does, and we’re not saying you must.)
How does that translate into food options? Here’s what forms the core of a healthy breakfast:
- Whole Grains such as oatmeal, or whole grain bread, pancakes, waffles or muffins. Look for “100% Whole Grain” or “100% Whole Wheat” on the packaging. Or, better yet, make something healthy and scrumptious from scratch.
- Low-Fat Dairy like milk or plain yogurt, cottage or other natural cheese.
- Fruits and Vegetables — fresh or frozen. For example, top your cereal with berries or add them in to a smoothie; have a glass of unsweetened juice. Veggies can be tossed into an egg scramble or omelet.
- Lean Protein, including eggs, peanut butter, lean meat, poultry or fish.
“A mix and match combination of complex carbohydrates (fruits and veggies), fiber (whole grains), protein and a small amount of fat is not only nutrient-dense but keeps you feeling full for hours,” says Diamond.
Research has shown that a high-protein breakfast does a better job of decreasing levels of “the hunger hormone” ghrelin later in the day than one that’s high in carbs. However, if you feel fantastic fueling up on a stack of pancakes, have at it.
If you’re interested, there are plenty of articles about breakfasts of nutrition and fitness experts. Or simply google “delicious healthy breakfast” for ideas. The number of tips, recipe suggestions and creative ways to break out of a boring oatmeal rut (or to make your oatmeal less boring) is endless.
With so many options, it sounds like there are no bad choices.
Not so fast. Highly processed cereals that shall go nameless — but are made with white flour, sugar and plenty of unrecognizable ingredients — are probably not a great idea. They can spike your blood glucose levels.
“That’s not only bad for your health, you’ll probably end up with hunger pangs, and an energy crash, soon after eating,” says Diamond. And parents, please note: Legit studies have linked the food dyes in brightly colored cereals and ADHD in kids.
Bagels and doughnuts also shouldn’t be your go-to first choice for pretty much the same reasons.
Fine by me. I love bacon more than bagels.
Well... Many processed breakfast meats, such as bacon and sausage, are high in saturated fat and sodium. Those with cardiovascular issues — or anyone trying to drop a few pounds — should proceed with caution and in moderation. If you need another reason to pass on the Oscar Mayer Thick Cut slices, consider that cured meats have been linked to COPD; and, the nitrates and nitrites in sausage and other red meats have been linked to an increased risk of cancer.