We’ve all heard over and over again that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. While I’m not necessarily in agreement with that (Team Lunch!), I think we call agree that a healthy breakfast is pretty damn important. Not only does it set the tone for your mood and energy levels for the rest of the day, but it also sets you up for ultimate fat metabolizing, regulated blood sugar, and a whole lot more.
But what you may not know is that all breakfasts are not created equal. If you are regularly consuming any of the foods below for breakfast, you’d be better off skipping the meal entirely! (Not that I’m advocating that). Read on for the biggest culprits of belly fat, mid-morning crashes, headaches, and crankiness:
1. Doughnuts, Muffins, Bagels and Croissants
Yes, I know that’s four foods, but they all fall pretty solidly in the same category of terrible, refined, and processed carbs that are typically loaded with sugars, trans-fats, and empty calories as well. These are the biggest barriers to weight loss, and will typically cause a midday energy crash as well. Not to mention leaving your blood sugar depleted by lunch time, which can lead to some not-so-great, hysterical food choices. If you’re craving carbs for breakfast, opt for a piece of whole grain toast with almond butter, apple butter, or some natural (no added sugar) preserves.
2. Sugary Cereal and Granola
99% of conventional supermarket cereals and granolas are also loaded with tons of added refined sugar, refined and processed carbs, and useless, chemical “supplements.” As with all foods, read your ingredients! There are plenty of healthier, whole grain cereals out there (check out Nature’s Path, Barbara’s and Ezekiel) that are sweetened with light amounts of organic cane sugar or honey, and feature super potent grains like flax, hemp seed, millet, amaranth and brown rice. Better yet, go for a completely unsweetened cereal or oatmeal, and sweeten it yourself with a sprinkle of stevia or a drizzle of agave. Add some nuts and berries for some added excitement and flavor! And skim the milk in favor of some greek yogurt, soy milk or almond — all of which are much healthier and easier on your digestive tract!
3. Breakfast Sandwiches
This “all-American” combination of eggs, fried bacon or sausage, processed cheese and refined breads add up to a fatty, greasy, high-calorie, high-sodium junk food binge. Not only will this only serve to pack on the pounds, but you’re also clogging your arteries, increasing risk of heart disease and cancer, and negatively impacting your skin. If you just can’t live without the occasional breakfast sandwich, make your own at home, with a two egg omelet, tempeh bacon, and avocado or high quality cheese on a whole grain toasted english muffin.
4. Meal Replacement Shakes
Popular brands like Ensure, Slim Fast, Atkins, or any other store-bought prepared shake is not a meal! It’s not even a snack. It’s a mess of processed garbage and chemicals that neither satisfies your hunger nor provides your body with any real nutrition. And it certainly isn’t a healthy or effective way to permanently lose weight. If you like shakes in the morning, make your own with hemp or rice protein powder, fresh or frozen berries, and some almond milk. Delicious, nutritious, and real food!
You know what else isn’t a breakfast? A cup of coffee. You heard me! Starting your day off with a shot of false energy, adrenal imbalance, and a potential blast of sugar and unnecessary fat and dairy (depending on your particular coffee drinking style) is certainly not a healthy way to start your day. If anything, this will lead to midday moodiness, depleted energy, and long term adrenal issues. If you like your morning coffee, have it every other day (to avoid dependency), with some stevia and soy or almond milk. And for the love of god, skip the Fraps and whipped creams and flavored syrups and crap!
Natasha Uspensky, chhc, aadp
NU Health & Wellness