Mornings can get hectic! We’re off to school, work, activities, and unfortunately, sometimes this means we don’t eat breakfast. Sometimes we do grab something quick to eat, but we don’t realize many common breakfast foods are high in sugar and very processed grains. The rest of our day, this makes us more likely to crave and eat more sugar and more processed grains, which puts us at higher risk for habits in line with many preventable chronic diseases, especially diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
A healthy, balanced breakfast should include at least three of the five food groups (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and protein). Below we have some common breakfast foods we recommend avoiding, and healthier options to include instead to keep full and to start the day off on the right foot.
99% Fat Free Light Strawberry Yoplait Yogurt- with 10 g sugar (3 teaspoons added sugar) and ingredients such as Modified corn starch, sugar, and Acesulfame Potassium (an artificial sweetener), flavored yogurts are a food which seems healthy, but after taking a closer look into the ingredients, they are something we recommend avoiding.
Try Instead: Plain yogurt, blended with ripened bananas and strawberries, topped with unsweetened peanut/ almond/ or cashew butter. A much better option, complete with dairy, fruit, and protein, as well as plenty of fiber and vitamins.
Quaker Cranberry Almond Breakfast Flats- With ingredients such as brown sugar, honey, sugar, baking soda (salt), and calcium phosphate (salt), these breakfast bars are another “healthy” item, we wouldn’t recommend.
Try Instead: 100% whole wheat toast with unsweetened almond butter, topped with unsweetened raisins, and cinnamon. Have a glass of milk with this fast, satisfying breakfast option.
Cheerios- Often perceived as something healthy because of their plain taste, Cheerios are another tricky food. Though the box claims in large text on the front “made with 100% whole grain oats,” it fails to also report on the front that ingredients include corn starch, sugar, and salt. As 99% of cereals contain processed grains and sugar, we don’t recommend them for breakfast.
Try Instead: Chia pudding, which can be prepared the night before using chia seeds, milk or unsweetened dairy replacement, any of your favorite fruits, and nuts. This will keep kids much fuller longer with the great fiber, protein, and omega-3 it brings.
Sunny Delight- Juice is often an item we feel is safe, natural, and healthy. If it contains fruits, it must be good for us, right? Absolutely not the case. Yes, fruits are great for us, but mainly because they contain fiber, along with their vitamins and minerals. If we extract just the juice from fruits, we’re losing the greatest part: the fiber! Sunny Delight is especially devoid of fiber and any nutrition as it is not 100% juice. With ingredients including: corn syrup, modified corn starch, less than 2% fruit juice, sucralose (artificial sweetener), acesulfame k (artificial sweetener), canola oil, and several artificial colors, this product is one we would not recommend consuming.
Try Instead: A homemade smoothie with mixed frozen fruit, milk or unsweetened dairy replacer, plain yogurt, and spinach or kale. Start the day off with calcium, iron, fiber, and a tasty way to give you energized throughout the day!
By Dahlia Marin, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist