Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Have you ever heard: “Eat breakfast yourself, share lunch with your friend, and give your dinner to your enemy?” 🙂
Why does everyone talk about the importance of a healthy breakfast? It’s simple: make a mistake with the choice of foods you eat in the morning – and all day long the blood sugar fluctuations will be like riding a mood swing roller coaster! Riding on such a “sugar swing” will leave you hungry, annoyed at everyone and everything, with unstoppable cravings for sweets or salty chips. Many people mistakenly consider certain foods and drinks as healthy, while they are only suitable for dessert. Eating these foods for breakfast and trying to lose weight or not to gain weight is an oxymoron!
So, what would NOT be the right thing to eat in the morning?
1.Breakfast Cereals! I’m sure you know: cereals for children’s breakfasts contain a large number of sweet ingredients. But you may be surprised at the amount of sugar in cereals that are sold in health food stores. Many people do not realize that a whole-grain crunchy “healthy breakfast cereal” or granola includes a lot of added sugar, empty calories, carbohydrates, and ZERO healthy fats. And what happens when you eat any type of carbs? Carbs spike your blood sugar making your pancreas crank up the amount of insulin that is going into your bloodstream to conquer the rise of the above-mentioned blood sugar! This is especially true for boxed products advertising the incredible benefits of this product to your health. What can be done? Get ready for breakfast during dinner. Choose a recipe for a meal of lean protein and leafy or cruciferous vegetables that contain high fiber and slow-release carbohydrates. Eat dinner leftovers or quickly make 2-3 scrambled or sunny side up eggs if you have no issues with eggs! The next morning, use the time you usually spend making cereals. It is enough to warm the dish prepared the day before, eat and get going to work/errands/school.
2. Low Fat or No-Fat Products! Do not be fooled! Such statements often mean that it is a “high sugar product”. One teaspoon equals 4 grams of sugar! For example, a large latte with skim milk from Starbucks contains 15 g (or 4 teaspoons!) of sugar. If you decide to take the low-fat coffee cake with your coffee, then in total you will get about 50 g of sugar. A reasonable alternative: wrap turkey slices with avocado in lettuce leaves and drink organic black coffee made at home or from Starbucks. Even if you decide to add a splash of Oatly – my latest non-dairy obsession that froths amazingly well and add ¼ tsp of honey – you will get way less sugar then from Starbucks latte or mocha. Personally, I cannot imagine adding 4 teaspoons of sugar into my coffee! It just will taste gross!!!
3. Pancakes! Even whole-grain pancakes are a no-go for a healthy breakfast! Whole grain does not mean pulverized whole wheat or rice! If you are into whole grains it would mean to eat them as a whole, not ground! Whole grains are 99% carbohydrates that break down in your body into glucose and spike your blood sugar. Adding maple syrup is making things even worse. Now, your body will be flooded by glucose and fructose. In this case-scenario fructose goes straight to your liver and with high exposure to it from different foods/drinks such as soda that is rich in high-fructose corn syrup, it may cause fatty liver disease. Not fun!
4. Oatmeal! I understand when I mentioned breakfast cereals, oatmeal constitutes one of the cereals. But oatmeal has its’ own place in the forbidden breakfasts, because, thanks to the endorsement from American Heart Association, for a long time it has been considered the most healthy breakfast. Oatmeal is rich in soluble fiber that helps to bind to cholesterol in the gut and prevents its’ reabsorption. Unfortunately, a lot of people (and healthcare providers) still consider cholesterol to be an enemy. We know more now about cholesterol and low levels of cholesterol (<150) may have a role to play in the development of dementia later in life. For a long time, I made amazing breakfasts with smashed banana and oatmeal just to find out an hour later I would become irritable, shaky, and hungry. At first, I blamed it on coffee. But after my symptoms did not go away after I excluded coffee from my diet I diverted my attention and research to oatmeal. As soon as I have changed my breakfast oatmeal to sausage and non-starchy veggies, I felt an amazing energy and I was not hungry for at least 3.5 hours between my breakfast and lunch.
5. Smoothie! Nobody doubts the convenience of shakes/smoothies and a lot of people also keep promoting shakes as the healthy rich in nutrients and phytonutrients food! Unfortunately, most smoothies/shakes have a lot of high-glycemic fruit such as pineapple, mango, and grapes. Smoothies have no fat added either. Then what’s wrong with smoothies? Smoothies are considered to be a healthy snack or even an adequate substitute for a whole meal. But the ingredients for smoothies, such as juice, low-fat yogurt, and honey include a large amount of sugar. Shakes, on the other hand, have some protein powder added, as well as some fat in the form of almond or peanut butter. A smart alternative: start your day with an appetite-lowering protein shake. Mix protein powder in a blender (make sure it is not whey protein, rice protein or soy protein isolate), ½ cup of frozen raspberries or wild blueberries, avocados, celery, freshly ground flax seeds, chia seeds, and unsweetened canned coconut milk. So far pea protein is the healthiest protein on the market. Rice protein may have a high amount of arsenic, even if the rice is organic!
6. Yogurt! The dairy products include a line of fruit yogurts that confuse the buyer with claims of a low-fat high-protein meal full of added sugar. Meanwhile, one serving of the product contains 25 g of sugar which is almost 7 teaspoons of sugar! A reasonable alternative: if you are ok with dairy products to have unsweetened plain whole fat Greek yogurt and add your favorite berries to it and ½ – 1 teaspoon of raw unfiltered honey. As for the dairy alternative, my favorite is plain coconut yogurt from Natural Grocers – it is super thick and creamy, as well as quite an expensive treat!
7. Healthy” Protein Bar! Manufacturers invent various bars and drinks with high protein content and different additives to trick our palate into liking their products. They mix sweet and salty; fatty and crunchy stuff together and we get addicted to that mixture easily! The contents of most of these products include a huge amount of sugar, artificial sweeteners, gluten, chemicals, cheap moldy peanut butter, and just different types of additives. Even the proteins they contain are not of high quality: manufacturers often use soy protein isolate. A smart alternative: spread almond butter on an apple, carrots, or other veggies. Hard-boiled eggs or poached will also be a good option, provided that you do not have an intolerance to them. This is a quick way to make a hearty high protein breakfast.
Zhanna Tarjeft, FNP is a certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and a founder of Sprouts Health Functional Medicine Practice in Gilbert, Arizona. Her articles are a matter of personal opinion and do not constitute direct medical advice. All conditions are unique and require the direct review and care of your own physician. To book an appointment with Zhanna Tarjeft contact her at (480) 550-9551