What does breakfast look like at your house? Is it chaos and pandemonium? Children rummaging through the cupboards, standing in the open doorway of the refrigerator while complaining there is nothing to eat? Do you suggest they pick out a cereal from one of the hundreds already open in the cupboard? Or, do you already have their breakfast made, pancakes, orange juice, fruit slices, scrambled eggs, and milk sitting on the table as they drag themselves into the kitchen? I’m in category number 1. I’ve never been a ‘cook a huge breakfast for my family’ kind of girl because, I can hardly get the pot of coffee going without caffeine.
Why do breakfast commercials look like three course meals? Well, today we are going to take a look at breakfast.
The Mayo Clinic has a whole page devoted to breakfast. Please comment below and tell me if you’d like to see a breakfast addition here on this site.
The benefits of a healthy breakfast
Breakfast gives you a chance to start each day with a healthy and nutritious meal. It also lays the foundation for lifelong health benefits.
Benefits for adults
When you eat a healthy breakfast, you’re more likely to:
- Eat more vitamins and minerals
- Eat less fat and cholesterol
- Have better concentration and productivity throughout the morning
- Control your weight
- Have lower cholesterol, which may reduce your risk of heart disease
Benefits for children
Breakfast is especially important for children and adolescents. According to the American Dietetic Association, children who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to:
- Concentrate better
- Have better problem-solving skills
- Have better hand-eye coordination
- Be more alert
- Be more creative
- Miss fewer days of school
- Be more physically active
The basics of a healthy breakfast
Even though you know a healthy breakfast has many benefits, you may not be sure what exactly counts as a healthy breakfast.
Here’s what forms the core of a healthy breakfast:
- Whole grains. Options include whole-grain rolls, bagels, hot or cold whole-grain cereals, low-fat bran muffins, crackers, or melba toast.
- Low-fat protein. Options include hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter, lean slices of meat and poultry, or fish, such as water-packed tuna or slices of salmon.
- Low-fat dairy. Options include skim milk, low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheeses, such as cottage and natural cheeses.
- Fruits and vegetables. Options include fresh fruits and vegetables or 100 percent juice beverages without added sugar.
Together, these core groups provide complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein and a small amount of fat — a combination that packs big health benefits and that also can leave you feeling full for hours.
Try to choose one or two options from each category to round out a healthy breakfast.
So what can that mean for busy mom’s and dad’s?
Healthy breakfast: Quick, flexible options to grab at home
What to look for in dry cereals
Cereal may frequently be your go-to item for breakfast, whether your grab a handful to eat dry while on the run, or you have time for a quick bowl with milk. But not all cereals are created equal. So when choosing a breakfast cereal, try to put a little thought into your decision by reading the nutrition label and ingredient list. Remember that a serving size is typically 3/4 cup to 1 cup. The key items to look for are:
- Fiber. Choose cereals with at least 3 grams (g) of fiber per serving, but if possible, aim for 5 grams per serving or even higher.
- Sugar. Added sugar doesn’t automatically make a cereal unhealthy. But try to choose cereals that have 13 grams or less of sugar per serving.
- Calories. If you’re counting calories, choose cereals lower in calories, ideally less than 120 calories per serving.
|Examples of good options for dry breakfast cereals|
|Cereal, 1-cup serving||Fiber in grams||Sugar in grams||Calories|
|Kellogg’s All-Bran Bran Buds||39||24||225|
|General Mills Fiber One||28||0||120|
|Kellogg’s All-Bran Original||18||10||161|
|Kashi Go Lean||10||6||148|
|Post Raisin Bran||7||16||178|
|Post Spoon-Size Shredded Wheat||6||0||167|
|General Mills Cheerios||3||1||103|
|Quaker Life Cereal, plain||3||8||149|
Sources: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21; USDA What’s in the Foods You Eat, 3.0
Remember to top off your bowl of cereal with some sliced fruit and low-fat or skim milk. Or if you’re on the go, take along a piece of fruit and a carton of milk with your dry cereal.
Cereal bars also may be a good breakfast option. Just be sure to look for those that meet the same guidelines as dry cereal. Also, don’t forget some fruit and low-fat milk or yogurt to round things out. Even fruit or yogurt cereal bars won’t satisfy all your nutrition requirements for breakfast.
Quick and flexible breakfast options
Whether you tend to stick with traditional breakfast options or you prefer the variety offered by nontraditional breakfast fare, you have plenty of ways to get in a healthy breakfast each day.
Here are some specific examples of healthy breakfast options:
- Cooked oatmeal with almonds or dried cranberries
- Cold cereal with a side of fruit
- A whole-wheat pita stuffed with hard-boiled eggs
- Leftover vegetable pizza
- Vegetables, salsa and low-fat shredded cheese wrapped in a tortilla
- A smoothie blended from exotic fruits, some low-fat yogurt and a spoonful of wheat germ
- Whole-wheat crackers with low-fat cheese or peanut butter
- A microwaved potato topped with broccoli and grated Parmesan cheese
- A whole-wheat sandwich with lean meat and low-fat cheese
- Multigrain pancakes with fruit and yogurt
- A whole-grain waffle with peanut butter