September 10, 2011

Eating Whole Foods: Breakfast

Two of my friends recently asked me about helping them eat a healthier diet. I love that kind of stuff, so I decided to do a segment on the blog about it.

One of the first questions was about breakfast, and since that's the first meal of the day, that's where we'll start. 

Tip #1: Don't skip breakfast. Ever. 

When you wake up, you most likely haven't eaten for at least 8 hours. That's fine when all you're doing is sleeping, but your body needs fuel to carry you through to lunch.

Tip #2: Eat a piece of fruit.

If you really can't handle eating in the morning, at least eat a piece of fruit. No, it's not really a big enough breakfast to tide you over until lunch, but at least you are eating something healthy to start the day. I like to add fruit to whatever I'm eating, like a banana on pb toast or peaches on oatmeal.

Another option is to make a smoothie. They're a great way to get in your daily servings of fruit and veggies. It's easy to make your smoothie the night before and keep it in the fridge to grab on the way out the door in the morning,

Tip #3: Learn to like oatmeal. 

For me to talk about breakfast, I have to do an ode to oatmeal. Just hear me out.

I didn't always like oatmeal. My mom ate it for breakfast pretty often and I thought she was crazy. Then one day I thought maybe this was something I should try, so I asked her to get me some packets of cinnamon oatmeal, please!

It was like eating running, clumpy, sugary goo. Back to cereal and english muffins, thanks.

Then one day I had baked oatmeal when we were out. This stuff is incredible, like a muffin and cereal all rolled into one food. I figured maybe I could like oatmeal then, so I kept trying. I made my own baked oatmeal a few times and ate leftovers for a few days, but oatmeal still wasn't part of my daily breakfasts.

When I started reading more blogs, I got some great ideas that looked like they'd make oatmeal better. Making it on the stove or in the crock-pot with old-fashioned or steelcut oats tastes so much better than the packets.

Best discovery ever: top it with peanut butter!

Tip #4 Aim for whole grains.

No matter what you're having for breakfast, be it pancakes, muffins, bagels, toast, etc., have the whole grain version. If you're buying it, look for the first ingredient on the list to say whole grain. If you're making it, use white whole wheat or regular whole wheat flour in place of all or at least part of the flour. Unrefined carbohydrates give you energy for a longer period of time.

Tip #5: Add protein to the meal. 

As much as it pains me to dwell on protein, since Americans are always hung up on it and actually get much more than is needed, it really does help keep you full longer. If you're going to eat breakfast, it should be worth your while. No one wants to be hungry 2 hours later. My favorite way to incorporate protein is by topping my breakfast with nut butter, but there are a lot of ways to get some protein. 

I like my breakfast to be on the sweet side, but if you like savory, eggs are a great option. They make a filling, protein rich breakfast and they're very versatile. Add some veggies for extra nutrients! 

Yogurt can also be a good way to get in some protein, but watch the sugar content because some of the varieties are full of it!

*I am not a nutritionist, these tips are simply what I have picked up through much research and personal experience. Everyone's bodies are different, so listen to your own body's needs.**

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