They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What you choose to eat in the morning can set the tone for the rest of your day. We live in a world with many food options and breakfast is no exception — the possibilities are endless!
So if you want to make the most out of your first meal, what foods should you avoid? Here's a list of breakfast foods to pass on, in favor of optimal health.
Smoothies may seem like a great breakfast choice because they are loaded with lots of fruit. And fruit is healthy, right? However, according to the British Heart Foundation, your smoothie might be packing more sugar than you think. "If you blend fruit, the natural sugars are released from within the cell walls of the fruit and become free sugars," the foundation states. "Free sugars include any added sugars (including honey and maple syrup) and are the kind we should all be cutting down on to protect our teeth [and] maintain a healthy weight."
But there's another potential downfall: breakfast in liquid form may not satisfy your hunger. A study from Purdue University found a distinct difference in satiety between solid and liquid foods. Despite all the fruits and veggies blended in your smoothie, you may find yourself reaching for more snacks to satisfy a lingering hunger in your belly.
The cereal aisle at the grocery store is filled with plenty of options to fill your bowl, but don't be fooled by the colorful packaging. Scientists and doctors warn of the consequences of a diet high in sugar, and one major sugar bomb is cereal. Authority Nutrition reports, "Starting the day with a high-sugar breakfast cereal will spike your blood sugar and insulin levels. A few hours later, your blood sugar may crash, and your body will crave another high-carb meal or snack, thus creating a vicious cycle of overeating."
The article goes on to point out that even though cereal brands tout health benefits, sugar is a leading ingredient in this processed food. With heavy marketing towards children, parents are especially susceptible to purchasing cereal for their family. To avoid a Froot Loop fail, skip this aisle completely when shopping at the grocery store.
Pre-mixed oatmeal is a seemingly healthy option. It is also quite portable and simple to make: just add hot water. Some varieties even have dried fruit included to make is seem more healthy. Unfortunately, like cereal, these packets are often loaded with sugar — and even the pre-portioned oats have lesser benefits.
Dietitian Leslie Beck wrote for The Globe and Mail that, "although they're convenient, most brands of instant oatmeal have added salt and sugar. Look for a brand that's low in sugar — ideally unflavoured or no added sugar — and low in sodium." Beck continued to explain that another pitfall of instant oatmeal (even the unsweetened kind) is that it has an increased glycemic index compared to large flake and steel cut oats. This matters because, as Beck wrote, "Studies show that a diet based on high glycemic food is linked with a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes."
It might surprise you to know that granola products are, as the New York Times reports, a billion dollar industry. But, don't let those dollar signs fool you into thinking that granola or granola bars are a suitable breakfast choice.
Some granolas can actually contain more sugar than a donut or a cup of ice cream. As dietician Andy Bellatti, told the New York Times, "At its most basic level, granola is just super sweet, crunchy oatmeal. Apart from some specialty brands, you can't find unsweetened granola." Sadly, most major brands are loaded with sugar and are not healthy breakfast options.