Hear the word “breakfast” and you may conjure up a picture of the archetypal cereal bowl and milk or perhaps you envision a mad morning dash where you’re just lucky to get all the kids out along with their lunches.
Breakfast has long been touted as the most important meal of the day, with very good reason. Besides for providing the needed start up for a long day (we have been fasting for at least 7 hours), it also...
- Provides us with key nutrients we may not be able to make up later in the day (such as iron, calcium, B vitamins and fibre)
- Keeps us eating less fat and cholesterol
- Reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes, as indeed one large study found that men who skipped breakfast had higher risk of heart attacks and heart disease mortality.
- Boosts brain power- keeping us alert through the morning
- Preserves our feeling of satiety and prevents snacking on less nutritious foods.
While some people may avoid breakfast in the hopes of losing weight, skipping breakfast may in fact increase one’s risk of obesity as eating breakfast puts us on track for making healthier choices throughout the day and gives us extra energy to be more physically active.
So now that we know the whys of eating breakfast, what should we be eating? Should we go stock up on cereal and dust off our bowls and spoons?
The breakfast meal should include foods from three of the four food groups (grains; fruits & vegetables; milk & alternatives; meat & alternatives), and include fiber and protein to keep us feeling full for longer.
Some breakfast ideas:
- French toast topped with yogurt and sliced peaches
- A whole wheat English muffin with cheese, lettuce and tomatoes
- A homemade muffin and fruit smoothie or even warmed-up supper leftovers!
If you go the cereal route, choose varieties with less than 5 grams sugar and 2 or more grams of fiber. Eat with milk and a handful of berries or dried fruit and you have 3 food groups! Look for cereals high in fiber (2+ grams) and low in sugar (less than 5grams). Keep in mind that a low fat cereal has less than 3 grams of fat. Use the chart below to help you choose the best cereals.
Flake cereals are usually low in fat, but they do vary in fiber and sugar content.
Even with the use of whole grains these cereals are too high in sugar and should be limited maybe to once a week.
High Fiber Cereals
Cereals with 6+ grams of fiber are perfect for adding fiber into the diet, keeping you feeling full longer, and helping with regularity. Just be sure to drink lots of water.
Most granola style cereals are highly caloric with added oils and sugars. A better option may be a home-made granola of rolled oats, sliced nuts, seeds and fruit to control the sugar and fat while increasing fiber.
Make Your Own
Combining cereals can give you the best of both worlds; high fiber, low fat and sugar. Minimize the amount of high fat or sugar cereal and combine with a high fiber cereal to make your own tasty creation. Add fruits, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds or other boosts for flavor and fiber. Get experimenting and think outside of the cereal box!