Eating a Healthy Breakfast Doesn't Have to Be a Hassle

WASHINGTON — You always hear that a healthy breakfast is so important.

Yet demanding schedules, long commutes and a lack of quality choices can too often mean that breakfast is whatever you can grab … if you have it at all.

The result: bad eating for the rest of the day.

“I’ve heard of some people who just didn’t eat breakfast, and then the whole rest of the day they’re looking for the right thing,” said Kay Loughrey, a health coach, dietitian and nutritionist at Sweet Life Wellness in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

So how can you up your game for that first meal so that it benefits you throughout the day?

Begin with the building blocks: A good mix of protein, complex carbohydrates, and a good amount of fiber will provide one with both energy and brain power for the day. And it won’t leave one hungry again until lunch.

“Breakfast doesn’t have to be traditional,” Loughrey said. “We think of eggs, cereal, maybe some yogurt. But it could be something else. It could be some leftovers.”

Other portable, convenient options:

  • A protein, veggie and fruit smoothie (made the night before)
  • Egg sandwich (bread or an English muffin)
  • Whole wheat pita with egg and veggies

Keeping these portion sizes is important too, she said, as breakfast should only make up a third of total calories consumed for the day.

What to avoid? Sadly, it’s a mouthwatering list (note the lack of essential protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates here):

  • Pastries, doughnuts and large “mega-muffins”
  • Pancakes or waffles
  • Fruit juices, sodas or energy drinks

The goal is to eat a sensibly sized, balanced portion that gets you to midday, Loughrey said, rather than one sets you off on an unhealthy cycle of sugar highs and crashes.

As for coffee, Loughrey suggests avoiding the high-calorie coffee drinks and instead keeping the caffeine intake to the “sweet spot” of around two cups a day — preferably before noon.

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