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“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” How many times have you heard that? Do you ever think about is as you’re rushing out the door stuffing that danish in your mouth?
Breakfast actually IS the most important meal of the day!
Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism, helping you burn calories throughout the day. It’s linked to better memory and concentration, lower levels of bad cholesterol, and lower chances of getting diabetes, heart disease, and being overweight.
Skipping breakfast is a common practice. A recent survey showed that 31 million Americans skip breakfast every day, usually citing reasons such as not being hungry, not feeling like eating, or being too busy.
Also, people who eat breakfast, on average, are thinner than those who don’t. That’s pretty good motivation if you ask me.
Okay, so if skipping breakfast is a bad idea, it doesn’t matter what I eat, as long as I eat something, right?
The typical American breakfast is chock full of simple carbs, sugar, and calories. As a society, we are addicted to the “grab-and-go” concept. We love to eat pastries, sweetened yogurt, and breakfast sandwiches. When I drive to work every day, the Burger King drive-thru line is usually backed up to the street.
So what’s the problem with this kind of breakfast? There is a lack of nutritional value! Even the “healthy” options like granola and bagels aren’t good for you.
Let’s look at some examples of poor choices for breakfast:
Doughnuts, muffins, and pastries are full of sugar and carbs. You know that sluggish feeling you get around 10am every day? If you’re starting your day with sugar and carbs, you will experience a crash about mid-morning.
A sugar crash is a term used to describe the extreme feeling of fatigue after consuming a large amount of carbohydrates. A sugar crash causes the body to quickly produce insulin, which triggers glucose usage by tissues in the body by either using it as glycogen or using it for energy.
Bagels are often thought of as a healthier alternative to doughnuts, but, in fact, they are one of the highest calorie breads. Add a spread, and you’re looking at even more calories!
Some other sugary culprits include pancakes, granola, and cereal. Are you reading your labels? Do you see anything that ends with -ose? It’s probably a hidden sugar. These things are also filled with preservatives (chemicals), and who wants to put that in their body?
Something to look for here is the glycemic index. This number indicates how much the food will raise your blood glucose level after eating a serving. The lower the number, the better.
Foods such as white breads, many cereals, pretzels, white rice, and french fries have a high glycemic index.
Juice is something that fools most people. They think that because it’s from a fruit, it’s a great option! The truth is that fruit juice is full of sugar. This raises your blood sugar. Opt for the actual fruit instead. There is no added sugar, and the fruit has fiber to offset the natural sugars.
Breakfast bars can be tricky, too. You might think fruit and oats and seeds are good choices, and they are, but breakfast bars are also full of sugar. They have little to no protein or fiber.
Bacon and sausage are popular breakfast items, but processed meats can increase the risk for cancer and heart disease. Those nasty little nitrates may damage your blood vessels and harden your arteries.
Okay, if you haven’t closed this article already or thrown yourself into the floor weeping, let’s look at some totally doable, balanced, healthy breakfast options.
I am no Martha Stewart (although I did just buy her cookbook at a thrift store because it’s pretty), so my breakfasts are simple and practical. (Seriously, when you take off the dust jacket, this book is the most prefect shade of light blue. Stop judging me.)
This is my go-to easy breakfast item. On Sunday afternoon, I saute a week’s worth of these orange beauties with some onions and salt, and the are the foundation of my breakfast bowls before work. There are numerous health benefits of eating sweet potatoes. I usually add sliced bananas, avocados, and a fried egg. It’s delicious and ready to eat in less than 10 minutes!
There are so many ways to prepare eggs! You can fry them in coconut oil, or make an omelette filled with tomatoes and spinach, or scramble them and add in some veggies. Eggs are a good source of protein, something you need to stay energetic.
While I don’t eat grains of any kind for specific reasons, whole grain toast is a good option for breakfast. Avocados are a nutrient-rich food, containing nearly 20 minerals and vitamins. Spread a ripe avocado on your toast, add some salt and pepper, and top with an egg or two.
Fruit and yogurt parfait
This one only works if you use Greek yogurt instead of the sugary sweet stuff most people go for. Layer berries and yogurt, and add in some raw, local honey if you want to.
Natural sausage or bacon
I am a huge fan of these two Whole30-approved products:
I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to find bacon without sugar, but it’s really hard to come by! Read your labels, loves. It’s been 6 months since I had refined sugar, and sometimes I just need some bacon!
I bet you’re thinking that all of this sounds great but there is no way you will have time to cook breakfast every day and still make it out the door on time. I have the secret!
Meal prep. Before your week starts, prepare a bunch of food so it’s ready to go on those weekday mornings. There really are alternatives to grabbing a doughnut and eating it in the car. You just have to plan ahead and be intentional! Your body will thank you, and your days will be filled with energy.
What are some of your favorite healthy breakfast choices?