We've all heard the familiar phrase, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day," and this couldn't be more accurate. Not only does a healthy breakfast provide you with energy to tackle your busy day, it can actually help you lose weight. Studies have shown that people who regularly eat breakfast actually weigh less.
Additionally, eating breakfast may also help you live longer. The one thing that centenarians have in common is that they all eat breakfast every day. Pretty convincing data to persuade all of us to eat a breakfast of champions!
Components of a Healthy Breakfast
The first thing to focus on when building a healthy breakfast is balance. Try to incorporate at least three different food groups into your breakfast meal. In keeping with the rule of three, also opt for three important hunger-crushing nutrients in the first meal of your day--protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber.
Simple, Fast Breakfast Ideas
1. Whole-wheat English muffin or toast, topped with fat-free cream cheese and strawberry slices.
2. Omelet made with one whole egg and two egg whites, chopped veggies, reduced-fat or fat-free shredded cheese, and a piece of fruit to keep it well-balanced.
3. Whole-grain waffles topped with one tablespoon of peanut butter (or other nut butter) and sliced bananas.
4. Whole-wheat tortilla, scrambled eggs (one whole egg, two egg whites), and a handful of grapes.
5. Whole-wheat pita bread with a slice of reduced-fat cheese melted on the inside and an orange.
6. Fruit and yogurt parfaits: nonfat plain or flavored yogurt (aim for a lower-sugar version of the flavored varieties), whole-grain cereal, and sliced fruit.
7. Low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese with cut-up fruit or vegetables and whole-grain crackers.
8. Oatmeal made with milk or non-dairy milk alternative, with dried fruit and nuts.
Nutritious Grab-and-Go Breakfasts
9. Low-sugar whole-grain granola bar and a piece of fruit that's easy to eat on the go (think apples, bananas, pears or grapes).
10. Ham or turkey and cheese sandwich with some cut-up carrots.
11. Peanut butter (or other nut butter) and sliced banana sandwich.
12. Light string cheese and dried fruit.
13. Homemade trail mix (whole-grain cereal, dried fruit, nuts, crackers, etc.).
Keeping It Simple
People often make excuses for why they can't eat breakfast. Many say they're too busy in the morning to prepare a well-balanced meal. Others say they simply aren't hungry in the morning. Some even say that they can't think of anything other than the basic cereal and milk meal to start their days off right. All it takes is a little planning and you'll be on the road to breakfast success.
Start off small by trying to at least eat something--anything--in the morning. Plan and prepare your breakfast the night before or wake up about ten minutes earlier to ensure ample time to throw together a healthy morning meal.
Also, to avoid not being hungry enough to want to eat breakfast in the morning, try eating your dinner several hours earlier the night before, and don't snack too heavily before bedtime. This will prime your body to want to eat breakfast.
Kari Hartel, RD, LD is a Registered, Licensed Dietitian and freelance writer based out of St. Louis, MO. Kari is passionate about nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease through a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Kari holds a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Southeast Missouri State University and is committed to helping people lead healthy lives. She completed a yearlong dietetic internship at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL, where she worked with a multitude of clients and patients with complicated diagnoses. She planned, marketed, and implemented nutrition education programs and cooking demonstrations for the general public as well as for special populations, including patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, and school-aged children. Contact Kari at KariHartelRD@gmail.com.