Does Your Breakfast Wear a Health Halo? Try These Healthy Breakfast Alternatives

By Karen Sherwood for

These early fall mornings all we want to do is crawl back under our warm covers and sleep for an hour longer. Late, we usually run out the door forgetting the most important meal of the day: breakfast.

We’ve all been told the statistics about how breakfast ignites the metabolism (literally breaking the fast) and how skipping breakfast is associated with obesity; but when we are late for work and still half-asleep statistics are easily ignored. As are nutrition labels. So when we don’t skip, we grab something unhealthy but convenient that puts us at a nutritional disadvantage all day.

But don’t stress. You can still hit the snooze button. You can still run out of the door at the last second possible. We at Nutritious America will keep it simple. We will review three convenience-type breakfast products and give you some healthy, also convenient, alternatives.

Product- Activia Yogurt

Excuse: “Jaime Lee Curtis says so.”

Reality: Can you say “deceptive health claim?” Yikes! This dessert yogurt made by Dannon is said to help with digestion and immunity, yet the amount of sugar in the modest-looking beast can outweigh those cute little bacteria in no time flat. And despite our inner child’s urgings, we know that breakfast is no time for dessert. This product does not give nearly enough protein, healthy fat, or fiber to sustain us until our next meal. Plus, if you are going to eat dessert, wouldn’t you prefer a homemade warm chocolate chip cookie?

Easy Alternative: It takes about five minutes to put together a plain, high protein Greek yogurt with ½ cup of your own fresh berries and about ¼ cup of your favorite high fiber cereal, such as Kashi. Plus, the Greek yogurt is conveniently located in the same grocery store aisle. No excuses! (Time saver tip: At the beginning of the week pre-portion baggies of cereal, granola or nuts. Now on those, “run out the door” mornings you can literally grab and go.)

Product- Starbucks Yogurt Parfait

Excuse: “It’s in the display case right there in front of me and it looks so little and cute. It has to be healthy!”

Reality: This parfait wears something we like to call the “deceptive health halo”- something that appears to be good for us but it’s actually not. You might think, “But it has fruit and yogurt, what’s wrong with that?” Well for starters, it averages in at over 30g of sugar per serving size and contains a relatively small percentage of protein. This means that your blood sugar levels will be sent rocketing only to leave you hungry again an hour later.

Easy Alternative: OK, so maybe you are going to argue that you don’t have even 5 minutes to make the Greek yogurt suggested above. You go to Starbucks because you don’t have time to ‘cook!’ Don’t think you can get off the hook so easily! While in line for Starbucks (which, by the way, always takes more than 5 minutes, ahem), why don’t you pick up the Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal with the Nut Medley topping? Now you have protein (from both the nuts and the oatmeal. Yes, oatmeal has protein.) and a little healthy fat to keep you feeling sated without the massive sugar hit! (Nutritious America food fact: Coca-Cola has 39 grams of sugar, that is only 9 more than a flavored yogurt. Would you drink a Coke for breakfast and think it was a healthy option?)

Product- Egg Mcmuffin

Excuse: “…………well…none really.” (At least you are honest.)

Reality: Hmmmm. Do we give McDonalds a point for using the Grade A egg, or does the liquid margarine, sodium benzoate, and artificial flavors sort of negate that benefit? We’ll let you be the judge. An Egg Mcmuffin has over 800 mg of sodium- more than half our daily amount to consume.  That is not a good start to your day.

Easy Alternative: Try the Nutritious America burrito for brain power. It is delicious. It will make you forget you ever had a relationship with the Egg Mcmuffin and trust us, your body will thank you. (As an added bonus this is a recipe you can make ahead and freeze for up to 3 months!)

Also Read:

20 Ways to Cut Breakfast Calories Without Noticing

10 Breakfast Foods with As Much Sugar as a Candy Bar

5-Minute Breakfast Crumble


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