Reducing your sugar intake is one of the best things many dieticians say you can do for your health. And did you know that when it comes to added sugar, breakfast is the most dangerous meal of the day?
The primary culprit is cereal, that staple of the standard American breakfast. Many of the most popular brands of cereal have as much sugar as a piece of cake!
But that’s not all. So-called healthy breakfast foods can be loaded with sugar, too. For example, check the labels of many berry-flavored yogurts and you’ll see sugar listed as the second ingredient (after milk) – ahead of the actual fruit! And many store-bought granolas have more sugar per serving than Captain Crunch, Cocoa Puffs or even Froot Loops. So how to revamp breakfast into a balanced meal?
Choose Whole Grains
If you can’t give up your morning cereal, choose Cheerios or Kashi, which are actually fairly low in sugar. Even better is plain oatmeal, flavored with fresh fruit. If necessary, add a small bit of honey or brown sugar.
If toast is your thing, look for breads without added sugar (examples: Orowheat 100-percent whole wheat and Ezekiel 4:9 whole grain) or varieties with a gram or less of sugar. For a good balance of carbs and protein, top with almond or peanut butter – the type made from nuts and salt only.
If you’re a granola fan, make your own, experimenting with ingredients like coconut and dried fruit in place of sugar.Try this super-healthy recipe from Kaiser Permanente’s Food for Health website and reduce the sugar as much as you can.
An even healthier strategy is to stay away from grains altogether, which makes avoiding sugar much easier.You’ll find you can eat more this way and feel fuller, while having more energy. Depending on portion size, a healthy breakfast can include as many as four of these options:
- Scrambled, poached or fried eggs
- Plain yogurt
- Fresh fruit
But wait, veggies for breakfast? For those of us reared on a carb-based breakfast, the idea does take some getting used to. But it’s not as unusual as it sounds; in many parts of the world, including much of Asia and the Middle East, breakfast is a savory meal like lunch and dinner, and sweets are saved for dessert.
If you’re craving a cereal- or oatmeal-style breakfast but aiming to eat no sugar or grains, look into the whole30 diet. This popular meal plan (and its many followers) offer a bunch of great breakfast ideas, including one for delicious grain-free oatmeal.