Skipping the Sugar
- Many popular breakfast foods--especially items like cereals and toaster pastries--contain high amounts of sugar. If you crave sugar in the morning, it may be more out of habit than anything; too much sugar at breakfast, however, will make your energy level crash later on in the day.
If your normal breakfast contains items such as white toast, an English muffin or a bagel, you still may be getting a big dose of sugar. That is because such foods are known as "high glycemic," which are digested quickly and then cause swings in blood sugar levels. Try replacing white toast or a bagel with pumpernickel bread or sourdough toast for a low-glycemic breakfast.
Healthy Morning Foods
- In addition to avoiding heavily sugared items, you can add higher protein foods as replacements. Hard boiling eggs will reduce unnecessary oils and grease normally used to fry them, for instance. Or you can make an egg-white omelet, which cuts the amount of fat by excluding the yolk. Then replace your normal bowl of sugary cereal with the whole grain kind and add a half grapefruit on the side.
Some people don't have a big appetite in the morning. This doesn't mean you have to skip breakfast, however; try a soy shake for a protein boost, mixing in flax seeds to get a healthful boost of omega-3 fatty acids, suggests Dr. Andrew Weil. Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to aid heart health. As an alternative, try some plain, unsweetened yogurt with a half cup of fresh berries to combine nutrients like calcium and Vitamin C.
If your family likes a weekly big breakfast, complete with waffles or pancakes, don't panic; the Vermont Department of Health says that you can greatly improve the health benefits of such meals simply by using items like nonstick cooking spray instead of butter, light maple syrup and lower-fat turkey sausage, plus adjusting a later meal in the day for size.
Try the Unusual
- You can also try to substitute traditional breakfast items for foods you would not normally see at the morning table. Baked beans on whole wheat toast is filling and provides low-glycemic and high-fiber benefits, for instance. If that breakfast sounds too heavy for you, a peach will give you Vitamin C and an alternative if you don't like or can't tolerate more acidic oranges and grapefruits.
The key to healthy breakfast diets is to keep an open mind. Eating hummus on pumpernickel instead of the usual bagel with cream cheese can take some getting used to. The same goes for preparing breakfast foods the night before. Yet with some preparation and grocery store trip planning, you can turn your boring breakfast into a source of day-long energy and health.