When the alarm clock buzzer rings each morning, breakfast beckons. And whether you love or loathe the first meal of the day, chances are good that you are doing something wrong when you sit down to eat.
September is Better Breakfast Month. Following are four things you can do to improve your morning meal.
1. Don’t get too uptight about breakfast
Since childhood, we’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And a good healthy breakfast can get you off to a great start.
But not everyone likes breakfast. In addition, some people skip breakfast because they have turned to intermittent fasting – which has real benefits, Kimball says.
“We used to look at breakfast as the end all be all,” she says. “But what we’ve seen is a lot of (research) support for intermittent fasting, which may actually kind of change that conversation.”
If you are on such a regimen, you might not eat until 11 a.m. or noon – and that’s OK, she adds.
“Let’s take the pressure of ourselves,” Kimball says. “If you’re not a breakfast eater, stop feeling guilty about it.”
2. Cut back on the carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are not necessarily the enemy of a good breakfast. Athletes and other active people need carbohydrates to fuel their activity.
But the average person with a less demanding daily routine can easily get too many carbs, Kimball says.
Cereal and milk is a prime example, she adds. Kimball notes that the sugar content of milk is about 50% higher than the protein content.
“When we put that with a high-carb cereal and maybe some fruit and some juice, it’s no wonder that someone is dropping and crashing a few hours later,” she says.
High-carb diets are fine for athletes, Kimball says, but not for the average sedentary person who spends much of the day behind a desk, or driving a car.
“If you’ve got toast and some juice and some fruit, that’s all carbs, carbs, carbs,” she says.
3. Add in more protein
An important way to balance those carbohydrates is to add more protein to breakfast.
One recipe Kimball recommends is scrambling eggs with a fork in a muffin tin and adding spinach or diced vegetables and possibly cheese to make a breakfast egg muffin.
“Bake it, and then you can pull them out and freeze them,” she says. “That can be an easy way to get protein and veg on the go in this little muffin form.”
Meanwhile, fruit lovers can get plenty carbs from their favorite fruit alone. So, they should round out their breakfast with something higher in protein, like cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, Kimball says.
If you don’t like breakfast, but do enjoy java, turn the situation to your advantage.
“I like making your coffee pull double duty for you,” Kimball says. That means creating a frozen blended coffee drink with unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk, and adding low-sugar protein or collagen powder.
“That gives you a boost of calcium, gives you a boost of protein,” she says.
4. Embrace compromise
If you love cereal – or just can’t get enough bacon and eggs – you don’t have to completely forsake such delicious but less healthful foods.
Instead, you can moderate. For example, while cereal isn’t the best breakfast choice, you can improve it by choosing whole-grain cereals that are low in sugar. Then, mix protein powder into your milk to boost the protein intake, Kimball says.
And if you love bacon and eggs, just make sure you indulge rarely. “I don’t mind if for kind of a weekend treat,” Kimball says.
Spending a little money to get more healthful uncured bacon that is low in nitrites and nitrates also can help, she adds.