Eight healthy breakfast suggestions to get your day started

Mar 2, 2021

St. Joseph’s/Candler dietitian discusses the benefits of the ‘most important meal of the day’

March is National Nutrition Month so let’s celebrate it with the most important meal of the day – breakfast.

You’re parents weren’t lying when they told you a healthy breakfast was important, along with, of course, eating your veggies. Studies have shown that starting the day with a big breakfast and keeping dinner light may help you burn more calories and keep you trimmer. Eating this way may also keep your blood sugar levels from going too high.

Andrea Manley, St. Joseph's Hospital dietitian

“The benefits of breakfast have been studied extensively,” says Andrea Manley, a clinical dietitian at St. Joseph’s Hospital. “Findings have shown an immediate effect on cognitive performance, feelings of wellbeing, as well as extended benefits related to nutrient intakes and diet quality and weight management.”

“Some studies have shown an association between breakfast consumption and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and improved measures of glycemic control with type 2 diabetes,” Manley adds.

Another reason may be that if you don’t eat enough earlier, you’ll be more hungry throughout the day. That could lead to overeating or eating the wrong kinds of foods later in the day. Studies also point out that more calories tend to be burned in the morning so it just makes sense to eat more when calorie-burning is at its peak.

And while a good breakfast is beneficial to people of all ages, its effect on children may be even more significant.

“Children are still growing and their brain is still developing,” Manley says. “They need regular fueling from food. When a child skips breakfast, they don’t have what they need to perform at their best.”

In fact, skipping breakfast is ill advised for everyone. Skipping breakfast can also affect weight control, especially for adults.

“Breakfast skippers tend to eat more food than usual at the next meal or nibble on high calorie snacks to stave off hunger,” Manley says.

Having a truly good morning and performing at your best as the day goes means bringing the right foods to the table first thing. Need help? Manley suggests including a complex carbohydrate, protein and unsaturated in a balanced breakfast. Consider a combination of any of these:

  • Oatmeal with raisins, glass of low-fat milk and a piece of fruit
  • Fruit and cottage cheese with whole wheat toast
  • Granola and yogurt with a piece of fruit
  • Boiled or scrambled eggs with turkey sausage and whole wheat toast
  • Non-sugary cereals with low-fat milk, a piece of fruit and a boiled egg
  • Apples or bananas with peanut butter and a glass of low-fat milk
  • Pancakes with peanut butter and a banana on top
  • Omelets with vegetables and low-fat cheese

And while it may be tempting, try avoiding these:

  • Doughnuts
  • Sugary bagels
  • Pre-baked toaster pastries with sugary filling
  • Fried foods such as fried potatoes
  • Muffins, which are often high in sugar
  • Danishes
  • Sugary cereals

Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the morning be the reason you skip breakfast. Grab something to go or prepare a healthy smoothie for the drive to work, Manley suggests.

“Eat something anyway, even if it’s small, and include a protein source,” she says. “Not having time is not an excuse. Remember this is for you and your family’s health. You can do it.”

Check out all our Living Smart nutrition blogs in honor of National Nutrition Month.

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