It turns out your mother was right: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
“Whether or not you start work first thing in the morning, or you take your time waking up, eating a meal when you wake up is very important,” explains Lynn Nichols, outpatient dietitian for the Diabetes Management Program at Riddle Hospital. “Even if you’re not hungry, it’s necessary for your body to have something in it to jumpstart your metabolism.”
Even if you’re not preparing to send your student back to school soon, chances are you’re getting back into a regular schedule of no more long weekends and summer vacations. Although we can’t promise it won’t be hard, we can promise it will be easier if you start your morning with these breakfasts that will keep you from a mid-afternoon crash.
Oatmeal isn’t your mother’s (or your grandmother’s) breakfast anymore.
“There’s a reason oatmeal has been around for so many years,” says Nichols. “It’s quick to make, easy to eat on-the-go, and is one of a few foods that is both nutritionally good for you and good to eat.”
If plain oatmeal isn’t your favorite, try topping it with brown sugar or other good-for-you toppings like walnuts, frozen berries, or pumpkin pie spice.
Meal prep is a popular trend lately—making healthy meals for the week ahead to ensure you don’t succumb to the temptations that make it easy to make unhealthy decisions during the week. While most of us are focused on prepping healthy lunches and dinners, you can add breakfast to that list, too!
On Sundays, or whenever the last day of your weekend is, hard boil a few eggs to have ready for your breakfast for the week ahead. Hard boiled eggs are a quick snack, and a great source of calcium and protein to help you get started in the morning.
Before you grab the keys and head for the nearest drive-thru, this one comes with some clarifications, says Nichols.
“The breakfast sandwiches that you find at fast food restaurants are loaded with extra calories and grease, and often have little or no nutritional value,” she explains. “You can make a breakfast sandwich at home that is better for you and will keep you feeling fuller and more energized for much longer.”
Next time you’re hungry for a breakfast sandwich, build your own using an English muffin and lean meats like smoked salmon, Canadian bacon, ham, or a turkey burger, and top it with a slice of cheese. Nichols also recommends working in some greens, like spinach or kale.
It may be an obvious choice, but yogurt is an easily transported and versatile breakfast food that has a number of nutritional benefits. Whenever possible, opt for Greek yogurt. A six-ounce serving of the popular healthy treat has 15-18 grams of protein, five grams more than traditional nonfat plain yogurt.
If plain is too bland for you, look for fruity flavors like pomegranate, cherry, or blueberry, or mix in fresh fruit and a dash of cinnamon.
Your favorite childhood food may have been warm cinnamon toast, but loading a slice of white bread with butter and cinnamon sugar won’t do much for your energy—only your calorie intake.
Instead, skip cinnamon toast or a bagel and try a slice of toasted multigrain bread with almond butter. For a little extra flavor, you can also add a layer of sliced bananas or crunchy granola. Add it all together and you’ve got a breakfast that’s loaded with protein and will keep you full until lunchtime.
While all these suggestions are good, what should you do if your only option for breakfast is a drive-thru or nothing? Go with the drive-thru, says Nichols.
"If you have to grab breakfast on the go try choosing an egg and cheese on an English muffin, an egg white and vegetable breakfast sandwich on an English muffin or a cup of hot oatmeal with dried fruit. Try to avoid high fat and high calorie items like sausage, croissants, or even bagels.”
Main Line Health offers nutrition experts that are registered, licensed dietitians. As members of the American Dietetic Association, they keep up to date on the latest nutrition research that may have an impact on your health and well-being, and can offer an individual nutrition plan to fit your lifestyle. Visit our website to learn more about Main Line Health’s nutrition services.