You know what they say “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, and whoever “they” are – aren’t lying! You are literally “breaking a fast” so it is crucial you are consuming healthy foods first thing in the A.M. But are you feeding your family the best types of breakfast foods? Let’s dig a little deeper…
Breakfasts in North America
In the average North American household, breakfast seems to be a rushed meal. A quick bowl of cereal and glass of orange juice, pastries like muffins or donuts and bagels and cream cheese are some of the top choices. But are these the types of breakfast we should be eating?
Probably not. These options are full of refined sugars, contain little to no fiber and are setting you up for a sluggish, sugar-filled day. When you consume these types of meals in the mornings, your blood sugar will spike and then drastically drop. This leads to cravings, moodiness and hunger. Because of this, you are most likely to reach for unhealthy options throughout the day.
Weekend breakfasts are commonly pancakes and waffles or bacon and sausage… or BOTH. Again these provide little to no fiber and even less nutrients, setting you up to feel lethargic, bloated and without much energy for all your weekend activities.
Why is fruit often used as a breakfast food?
Another popular “grab and go” option for breakfast is a piece of fruit. While whole, natural food is much better choice than a sugary cereal; an apple or a banana is not giving you enough calories to fuel you for the morning or keep you full until lunch. Fruit digests very quickly in the body and may cause you to reach for an unhealthy mid-morning snack.
However, having fruit with any of our healthy breakfast recipes is great because you are getting tons of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants!
Having a Nutritious Morning:
By now you know that avoiding sugars and no-fiber foods in the mornings is the healthier way to go. But what nutrients does your body need first thing in the morning?
Complex carbohydrates: Carbs at breakfast are important to give you energy after not consuming food overnight (unless you snack during sleep, but that’s a whole other blog post!). Choose complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal and whole grain breads (instead of white bagels or sugary cereals) because of their slower absorption process, meaning more long, lasting energy. Plus the fiber and nutrients in complex carbs keep you fuller for longer.
Protein: Having some protein at breakfast gives you a more balanced blood spike meaning you may be less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks and meals throughout the day. Some great options are eggs, Greek yogurt or a protein-packed green smoothie.
Healthy fats: Like protein, adding some healthy fats to your breakfast will give you a more balanced blood sugar spike. Try fat sources like avocado or almonds, which are all packed with fiber to keep you fuller, for longer and provide vitamins and minerals. Plus, fats make meals taste delicious!
What foods should I avoid in the mornings?
When looking for the healthiest breakfast to feed you or your family, we recommend avoiding:
- High sugar cereals that contain little to no fiber
- Packaged granola or breakfast bars (TONS of hidden sugar in these!)
- Packaged yogurt parfaits and sweetened yogurts
- White bagels or toast
- Packaged muffins
- Boxed pancake or waffle mixes
- Store bought fruit juice (even the ones from concentrate…)
- Bacon and sausages
- Specialty coffee drinks (some can have up to 70g of sugar!)
The Cortisol and Breakfast Connection
Tons of people will skip breakfast because they have no time or they think it will help them lose weight. Well, we’re going to tell you why they may not be a good idea.
You may have heard of the hormone called cortisol. It is in charge of the body’s energy and blood sugar levels. It is highest in the morning to wake you up after a full night’s sleep and will go up and down throughout the day depending on your health, diet and stress levels until the night when it is at its lowest – preparing you for sleep.
When you skip breakfast, because you have fasted overnight, your blood sugar levels are low. When your body realizes it isn’t getting any food, you pump out even more cortisol than normal to help produce glucose to get your blood sugar level high enough to function.
This extra boost in the morning can cause your cortisol levels to be out of whack all day long, meaning you may have a hard time falling asleep at night. Plus like we mentioned before, the drastic blood sugar spike and drop may cause you to make unhealthy choices in food throughout the day!
Getting Kids To Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Getting kids to reach for a healthy breakfast may be tricky but it’s important to be a good role model for them early on. Start off by buying less and less processed, high sugar breakfast items in the house so they aren’t shocked that one day they’re eating donuts and white bagels and the next they’re eating eggs and kale.
Incorporate their favorite types of flavors into healthy breakfast options. If they are used to having orange juice every day, slice up an orange to have on the side of their eggs. If they love blueberry breakfast bars, top up their oatmeal with fresh blueberries.
Make cooking a fun family activity! Choose recipes and foods that they can help you with. If they are part of the cooking process, they may be more likely to enjoy the healthy meal. Homemade buckwheat pancakes, egg cups or homemade muffins are all options you could use a little helping hand with.
Easy On-The-Go Breakfasts
We love convenience just as much as the next person but easy doesn’t have to mean unhealthy!
Here is a list of our go-to options that will set you up for a healthy day (and a balanced sugar):
- Homemade Power Bars
- Homemade Energy Balls
- Vegetable Based Smoothies
- Hard-Boiled Eggs and fresh fruit
- Breakfast Egg Muffins
- Oatmeal and fresh berries
Now that you’re ready to start having a healthy breakfast every day, here are some recipes to get you started!
This gluten-free healthy breakfast option is packed with protein and healthy fats to balance your blood sugar and keep you from reaching for sugary snacks throughout the day. Plus the vitamin C in bell peppers are great to strengthen your immune system because who has time for a cold these days?
These fritters are spicy, easy to make and good for you – is there anything better? The added kale is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits so this recipe is a great way to sneak extra veggies into your kids’ mouths!
This is a recipe that would be great to get your kids to help with – making it more likely for them to enjoy a healthy breakfast. It’s vegetarian, gluten-free and you have the option of adding cheese or not meaning it works for those who avoid dairy!
This Mexican inspired dish will have you feeling spicy and satisfied! Its full of protein (13 grams to be exact!) to keep you fuller for longer and give you a more balanced blood sugar spike.