Start With a Better Breakfast
Don't let lack of time or other hurdles keep you from having a balanced breakfast. Research shows many benefits of eating breakfast every morning.
Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
There’s a good deal of science behind eating a balanced breakfast — it sets you up to succeed for the entire day. “Studies support that you need to start your day off with a healthy breakfast,” says Bethany Thayer, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and manager of wellness programs and strategies at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.
The benefits of breakfast include:
Breakfast foods can also provide a lot of vitamins and minerals. For instance, if you eat a bowl of whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk and a glass of orange juice, you’ll have consumed your total daily needs of vitamin C and about one-third of your calcium, thiamin, and riboflavin requirements for the day. You’ll also have a good supply of fiber, iron, and folate, especially if you choose a high-fiber cereal. “By missing out on breakfast, you might be missing out on some really great nutrients,” Thayer says.
Basics of a Quick and Balanced Breakfast
One of the most common excuses for not eating breakfast is being short on time to get to work or school. But breakfast doesn’t have to be elaborate or time consuming. You can wake up just a little earlier to fit in a nutritious breakfast. Besides, Thayer says, investing time in breakfast pays off through the whole day.
It’s best if your breakfast foods come from three different food groups: protein, whole grains, and fruits or vegetables, Thayer explains. You can get protein from eggs, dairy, lean meat, or peanut butter. Cereal or whole-wheat toast can be your whole grains. And strawberries or blueberries — great sources of antioxidants — make asweet and nutritious topping for oatmeal, cold cereal, or yogurt.
Cereal is a great choice for a quick and easy breakfast, but look for one that has at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. “You want to be sure that whole grain is the first ingredient that’s listed,” Thayer says. Also make sure that sugar isn’t first or second on the ingredients list.
If you prefer sweetened cereals, use a few flakes as a topping for yogurt, Thayer says. Or mix it with a healthier cereal — you can mix several cereals in your morning bowl.
Healthy Breakfast Ideas
Next time you’re racing against the clock, try these effortless and healthy breakfast ideas:
In a real pinch, don’t overlook last night’s leftovers. You don’t need to limit yourself to traditional breakfast foods, Thayer says. A portion of a casserole or even a slice of pizza (made with whole-wheat crust and low-fat cheese and topped with veggies) can make a good, quick breakfast. Eating a balanced breakfast, with whatever foods you choose, is the best way to jump-start your day and stay satisfied until lunch.
Last Updated: 04/06/2011
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