Whether it is a simple piece of toast spread with jam or a more elaborate plate of French toast with a side of eggs and bacon, breakfast is bread’s domain. From bagels and English muffins to an evenly toasted piece of your favorite bread, whole grains have long been a staple of the meal our mothers are always telling us is most important.
Breakfast is defined as “the first meal of the day that breaks the fast after the longest period of sleep and is consumed within two to three hours of waking; it is comprised of food or beverage from at least one food group, and may be consumed at any location.”
And there you go, a simple definition of a meal that is meaningful to us in different ways. I love breakfast! It is a way to start my day off right nutritionally, to energize, and have a few moments to myself before the day’s hustle begins. You may be saying to yourself, who has time for breakfast? Personally, it is totally worth it to set my alarm a few minutes ahead to have those sacred few minutes for my mental and physical well-being and rev up for whatever comes my way during the day. Not to mention, if I am thinking of food all day, that can be very distracting.
For you the word breakfast may represent something different altogether. Perhaps it’s the smoothie you sip on in the car during your work commute; or the Saturday morning ritual with your honey at a favorite local spot where the owner knows exactly how you like your eggs. For many, breakfast is not part of the daily routine. And no, a cup of coffee does not count, in case you were wondering.
Be creative with breakfast building
Here are some ideas:
- Breakfast wrap with scrambled eggs, whole wheat tortilla, cheese, and diced tomatoes or salsa
- Greek yogurt with blueberries, cinnamon, walnuts, and almonds.
- Whole grain cereal with fruit and low-fat or non-dairy milk
- Oatmeal with fresh fruit such as blueberries, or dried fruit such as raisins
- A boiled egg with whole grain toast and tomato slices
- Whole wheat toast with avocado slices, cherry tomatoes and a soft cheese
- Whole grain toast with peanut butter and perhaps a fruit, such as a banana
- An egg sandwich accompanied by fruit
- Homemade smoothie with non-fat Greek yogurt and low-milk along with your favorite fruits or veggies; you can even mix in your favorite protein powder if you desire.
- Overnight oats made with Greek yogurt and low-fat milk mixed with your favorite add-ins (i.e., chia or flaxseeds, nuts, berries, or other fruit)
- Lunch or dinner leftovers with a good source of protein
- Eggs Benedict Florentine, my absolute favorite made up of a whole wheat English muffin, poached eggs, sautéed spinach, and tomato. I tend to skip the sauce, but that’s up to you. It’s a nice blend of all the macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein, and healthy fats.
Beat obstacles to breakfast
Plan, plan, plan. Don’t wait until you’re starving to eat, as this may cause you to overeat or make impulsive food choices later in the day that may not be so healthy. Instead plan your breakfast. If you are too rushed in the morning, plan some foods ahead of time that can be grab’n go. Some examples are overnight oats, refrigerated boiled eggs with a whole grain piece of toast, a homemade smoothie, or Greek yogurt with fruit.
Power up your breakfast
Add 21 to 30 grams of protein for satiety, appetite, control, and maintaining body muscle. If you forgo breakfast, it is important to be more conscious of the nutrient intake in other meals to meet dietary requirements (for example calcium, protein, and fiber) and add variety to your diet.
The beauty of breakfast is it can consist of almost anything and provides a fresh start to achieving our health and nutrition goals. Be consistent, be creative, eat variety, and most importantly consume a well-rounded breakfast to get in essential nutrients. Strive for lean protein, whole grains high in fiber, and healthy fats in your morning routine.
Lela Iliopoulos is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator and an expert in nutrition therapy, health promotion, and education. She is passionate about impacting nutritional health through the practical application of science-based information