The Importance of Eating a Healthy Breakfast
We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And yet many of us hardly ever eat a good breakfast.
I am 100% guilty of this, myself! I usually just eat a protein bar as I'm running out the door.
No matter what our schedule, most mornings we end up rushing, making it nearly impossible to set aside the time to make a well-balanced, healthy meal.
Can you relate?
Breakfast cereals have long been popular because they are quick convenience foods. Even in the midst of rushing around and trying to get everyone out the door on time, most people can scarf down a quick bowl of cereal.
Unfortunately, ‘fast' doesn't always translate into ‘healthy'. Breakfast cereals, especially those geared toward kids, are notorious for being unhealthy – low in fiber and protein and high in sugar. Yep, even those marketed as ‘healthy'.
As a result of eating high sugar and low fiber and protein, you will likely experience the sugar “high” followed by the blood sugar crash leaving you hungry and low on energy way before lunchtime rolls around.
In addition, the sugar eventually just converts into fat, and you can eventually end up with serious type 2 diabetes.
What if you break the morning sugar cycle?
Why You Should Take the Time to Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Here are just three (of many) reasons to eat a healthy breakfast each day.
Prevent Weight Gain
Don’t skip breakfast to avoid calories.
Fasting in the morning actually has the opposite desired effect because it sends your metabolism into starvation mode. Starvation mode means that any calories you take in are stored as fat because your metabolism is working at a snail's pace.
Instead, kickstart your metabolism with a healthy breakfast.
Studies show that eating a healthy morning meal helps you avoid eating too many high-calorie foods during the day and prevents further weight gain.
Seems counter-intuitive, right? But it's true.
Breakfast also provides you with essential nutrients that can be stored into the right kind of energy so you can be productive for the rest of the day.
Other Healthy and Delicious Make Ahead Breakfast Ideas
Improve your concentration
When you eat a healthy breakfast, you are giving your body the essential nutrients it needs to perform well.
In a study published in Frontiers in Human Neurosciences, the findings show how a healthy breakfast positively affects children's learning with respect to behavior, memory, and attention.
Further, your body becomes dehydrated after sleeping all night. Wake your body up and reenergize yourself with a healthy breakfast and plenty of water.
Energy is essential for your brain and body to work properly. You may feel sluggish when you wake in the morning with low blood sugar. In order to re-energize your brain and your body, you need the right kind of energy.
A healthy breakfast should include lean proteins (eggs, turkey sausage, grilled chicken), fruits, veggies, and whole grains. This combination of food groups will provide you with the most energy and dietary benefits.
Proteins from foods like yogurts (lower sugar varieties, like Greek yogurt), eggs, nuts, seeds, or legumes are wonderful for breakfast.
And complex carbohydrates such as whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (i.e. oatmeal) provide fiber to help you feel full longer as well as a slower release of energy to prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes.
You’ll get the energy to start your day off right.
How to Choose a Healthy Cereal for Kids (and yourself)
Box breakfast cereal can be a convenient and healthy breakfast, especially if it's made with whole grains, is low in sugar, and served with fresh fruit and low-fat milk.
Parenting Pro Tip: A great to get children to get more plants into their diets is to work fruits and veggies into foods they already eat and enjoy. Cereal and oatmeal are tailor-made for adding berries and other fruits into your family's diet!
If you search the internet, you can find all kinds of recommendations regarding how much fiber and protein to make sure a cereal includes. You can also find recommendations for sugar limits.
For me, I search for the following criteria to determine a truly healthy cereal:
- 100 percent whole grain, with at least 3 grams of fiber (and ideally 4 to 5)
- at least 2-3 grams of protein
- 6 grams or less of added sugar
- a recognizable and reasonably short ingredient list (a list that doesn't include many processed ingredients or artificial preservatives).
Sweeteners and portions
If your child hankers for a little extra sweetness, try natural alternatives like fruit first. Then move on to something like agave nectar, honey, maple syrup, or table sugar.
Please be diligent about measuring these sweeteners out by the teaspoon. Without measuring, it's super easy to dole out way too much. Measuring sugar is hugely important for making sure your kids don’t get too much.
Just like with anything other food you or your family eats, portion control is one of the best ways to make sure their cereal habit stays healthy.
Even good-for-you cereals come with calories, so if a serving isn't enough to satisfy your kids' hunger, pair it with fresh or frozen fruit, vegetables, or protein (think hardboiled or scrambled eggs, low-fat yogurt, nuts, or nut butter).
Healthy Alternatives to Breakfast Cereal
A healthy breakfast doesn’t need to be complicated. And it doesn't have to take a ton of time. Spending a few minutes meal planning can shave off tons of time in the kitchen every week.
Consider Incorporating These Breakfast Foods into Your Routine:
Unlike a lot of smoothies you can buy that contain suspect ingredients and loads of added sugar, homemade smoothies can be extremely healthy and filling.
Take a banana, some frozen fruit, a scoop of whey protein, and a splash of some rice or almond milk for a real health surge.
The great thing about smoothies is that they are super versatile! Whether you are craving something tropical, sweet, or savory, a smoothie will do the trick!
Avoid adding fruit juices in your smoothie as they contain quite a bit of sugar.
Muesli is loaded with fiber! And what's more, it can be made quickly by combining 1/2 cup of muesli with 1/2 cup of water and frequently stirring until fully cooked.
Once muesli is made, you can then add in whatever you like. Fruit, dried fruit, nuts, and honey are all great muesli toppings and make for a hearty breakfast!
Chia seeds are low in calories, high in fiber, and filled with antioxidants. Their small size allows them to be added to almost anything.
Chia pudding is very easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time, making it the perfect morning meal. Simply combine 1/4 cup of chia seeds with 1 cup of liquid such as coconut milk and a sweetener like honey (if desired). Mix all the ingredients together and let it sit in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, you’ll have a wonderful tasting chia pudding that you can top with your choice of fresh fruits and nuts!
Quinoa is touted as a super grain. Due to its large amounts of fiber, protein, and iron, there's no question that it's one of the healthiest foods available.
However, what many don’t know is that it is also a great breakfast food! The lack of flavor and super filling qualities of quinoa make it perfect to combine with just about anything.
For the perfect meal, prepare quinoa with milk instead of water and add in some maple syrup to sweeten it. Once cooked, beef it up even more by adding strawberries, blueberries, or other fruits into the mix.
Try These Delicious Healthy Cereal Alternatives:
These quick and healthy breakfasts can be made in no time and will leave you feeling fuller for longer.
- Oatmeal, blueberries & flax or chia seeds
- Whole wheat toast with peanut butter and banana
- Low sugar plain yogurt (ideally Greek yogurt) with granola, fruit, and a bit of honey or agave nectar.
- Oatmeal with a dollop of plain yogurt, some crushed nuts (like walnuts), and a teaspoon of honey
- Breakfast sandwich with a whole wheat toast, fried egg, slice of cheese and a slice or two of ham. Add slices of avocado if desired.
- Egg Scramble: quick and easy to make (especially if you have veggies pre-chopped). This is a super filling and delicious breakfast!
- Fruity Baked Oatmeal makes a wonderful, hearty breakfast (or dinner)!
- Quiche is a very healthy breakfast that can be made ahead of time so all you have to do is heat it up in the microwave.
You Can Use These Ideas as Snacks Too!
And if you have a low-sugar, whole grain option they love, get creative! None of these ideas have to just be for breakfast. Offer them as an after-school snack for a midday energy boost.
We like to save the sugary cereals for a weekend treat or dessert.
When you start your day with healthy breakfasts, you do your body a favor – you kick-start your metabolism, and you start the day with something delicious that promotes feelings of well-being. Give them a try tomorrow!