Really? Really? People, most of you are adults and neither one of those answers are acceptable on any level. But at least you don’t say, as my brother sometimes does, “Pop-Tarts”. Why in the Hell he has those in the house, considering his son isn’t even one yet is beyond me.
Anyway, back to you.
I hate to have to do this, but it seems worth, no, it is necessary for me to repeat some of the benefits of eating a nutritious breakfast and also acquiesce to some of the necessary evils when considering your morning time constraints, no matter how much easier it would be if you just got up earlier. Therefore, in this installment I am reluctantly going to offer you some new quick fixes that will even include you having your cereal and slurping it too.
Studies have shown in adults, when a healthy breakfast is a regular part of the day, we tend to eat more vitamins and minerals, have better alertness and productivity in the morning and be in more control of our weight and overall cholesterol levels.
In children, a nutritious start of the day often results in better concentration and hand-eye coordination, fewer days being absent from school, as well as being more alert, creative and physically active.
What makes for a healthy breakfast? Foods that contain whole grains, low-fat proteins, low-fat dairy, fruits and vegetables as well as little to no refined sugar. Basically, a healthy breakfast means having at least one serving from each level of the food pyramid. That helps control the body’s hunger and blood sugar levels while providing a variety of nutrients to catapult us into the day.
So, as promised, here are some “gulp” options you can begin implementing if you are not normally a breakfast eater or truly don’t believe you have enough time.
Let’s be clear, I am not a fan of dry cereals. However, I know that for many of you, they are a staple in your diet. And, if it’s the only way I can get you to eat breakfast, so be it. So, with a bit of a chagrin, here is what to look for if ya gotta have ‘em. Make sure they have:
1. Little or no refined grains OR the first two ingredients are whole grain, bran, fruit, or soy. Avoid cereals that list sugar at or near the top of the ingredient list, or those that list several types of added sugar, such as high fructose corn syrup, honey, brown sugar and dextrose.
2. No more than 250 calories per cup. If you are counting calories, less than 120 is ideal. And remember, not all cereals have the same serving size. A serving of one cereal might be ½ cup, while another may be 1 full cup.
3. No questionable artificial sweeteners. And, remember a food item having sugar doesn’t necessarily make it unhealthy. But the best choices are cereals that have 5 grams or less of sugar per serving (which includes both natural and added).
4. At least 3 grams of fiber for lighter cereals (a serving weighs about 1 oz., or 30 grams) or at least 6 grams of fiber for heavier cereals (a serving weighs about 2 oz., or 55 grams).
LIGHTER CEREALS (19-35 grams per serving)
General Mills Fiber One
Kellogg’s All-Bran Original
Kellogg’s Special K Protein Plus
Post or Trader Joe’s Bran Flakes
Whole Foods 365 Organic Bran Flakes
Kashi Heart to Heart
Whole Foods 365 Organic Whole Wheat Flakes
General Mills Cheerios
Trader Joe’s Toasted Oatmeal Flakes
HEAVIER CEREALS (47-62 grams per serving)
Kashi Good Friends
General Mills Fiber One Raisin Bran Clusters
Trader Joe’s Organic High Fiber O’s
Post Wheat ‘n Bran Shredded Wheat
Whole Foods 365 High Fiber Morning O’s
General Mills Fiber One
Trader Joe’s Organic Raisin Bran Clusters
5. 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, eat it dry and take along a piece of fruit, a container of milk or some Greek yogurt.
6. And while cereals from the box are really against my religion, cereal bars are breakfast blasphemy. Just because they may contain fruit or yogurt doesn’t mean they are nutritious enough to stand (or be eaten) on their on merit. However, if time is really of the essence (which it shouldn’t be), and you grab a bar, still include some fruit and low-fat milk or Greek yogurt along for the extra protein. Some of the healthier ones are the Kashi TLC Fruit and Grain bar, which provide 4 grams of fiber.
So, there you have it…a complete and nutritious meal with zero prep and no sweat.
Excuse me while I sign off and eat my Almond Meal and Oats Banana Date pancakes!