What we eat at breakfast has the ability to influence how we feel throughout the rest of the day. No exaggeration. A breakfast that includes protein, whole grains, healthy fats, and colour (i.e. plant foods) will set you up for a day of stable blood sugar levels and sustained energy, and keep you feeling satiated so that you can get on with the demands of the day ahead. On the flip side, by choosing a breakfast lacking in important nutrients, we are going to be left feeling sluggish (both physically and mentally) and, over time, we can end up inching ourselves towards weight gain and chronic diseases. So, what are some of the common breakfasts that dietitians see that do not tick the nutritional box?
1. High sugar cereal
Despite clever marketing, many cereals contain a high dose of refined grains and sugar. Pouring this into our bowl day after day at the breakfast table can increase the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. The lack of fibre in these cereals also contributes to a blood sugar roller coaster throughout the rest of the morning – AKA we turn into a grizzly snack monster. Opt for wholegrain cereals such as those containing oats. Visible nuts and seeds are great, too. Top with natural plain yoghurt and some fruit to complete the nutritious breakfast formula.
2. Toast with unhealthy spreads
It’s important to acknowledge that not every type of bread provides the benefits listed above. Depending on what type you grab off the shelf, bread can also be rather void of nutritional value. White bread is made from flour that has been processed to remove the part of the wheat grain that contains most of the nutrients. White bread, therefore, contains less fibre and fewer vitamins and minerals. Some brands of bread are also high in added salt and sugar, which can be detrimental to our health. Let’s also not forget that what we put on or between our bread also counts. If we don’t consider what spreads/toppings/fillings we pair with our bread, we could end up making a meal or snack that is high in calories and low in nutritional value, which is a recipe with the potential to cook up weight gain and poor health. Find out the best bread options here.
3. Muffins and pastries
It’s fine to enjoy these occasionally as part of a balanced diet, but processed muffins and pastries are often made using refined flour and a hefty dose of sugar. They are very low in nutrient density for the calories received. For a more regular option, why not try making your own muffins? Add oats, nuts, seeds and fresh fruit such as berries to boost fibre to promote good gut health, as well as more stable energy levels. Savoury muffins are another quick and easy option that pack a nutritional punch – check out our recipe for egg muffins here.
4. Flavoured yoghurts
We love yoghurt as a protein-rich addition to a meal or snack, as well as for its probiotic benefits. However, not all yoghurts are created equal. If you flip over the container and have a peek at the nutritional panel, some yoghurts contain more sugar than protein. So, depending on which container goes in your basket, you may be buying something more comparable to a dessert. Our dietitians enjoy options such as Chobani Fit or Yo Pro which have a more desirable protein to sugar ratio.
Want some more ideas for healthy breakfasts? Download our free Food & Mood Recipe eBook below.