Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day, but do you put breakfast on a pedestal? Given the fast-paced world we live in, it’s easy to surpass for extra sleep, causing you to fly out the door for your busy morning ahead with a processed granola bar in hand. Perhaps you’re trying to slim down, and don’t have that big an affection toward the meal anyway, so you skip it to save calories for lunch or dinner instead. It’s easy to let breakfast slip by the wayside in lieu of your long list of priorities, or your big lunch or dinner plans that you know will fill you up plenty, but if you care about your health and your waistline, you can bet breakfast is a must. No matter if you’re short on time or counting calories, we have plenty of breakfast ideas to fit your needs.
Mistake #1: Skipping breakfast altogether (or not eating enough)
This is perhaps the biggest breakfast mistake of them all. Why? Because an overwhelming amount of research suggests it’s the one meal in your entire day not to be skipped. Opting out of breakfast because you don’t care for it, you’re not hungry, you’re short on time, or you’re trying to lose weight only contributes to weight gain, diabetes, a dip in cognitive function and heart disease. Yikes!
Instead: If breakfast isn’t your thing, ease into the habit with small portions of nutrient-dense foods that are easy to digest, like a protein shake with fruit or a hard-boiled egg with a piece of fruit on the side. Have a busy morning? Try waking up just 15 minutes earlier to allow enough time to whip up something you can eat on the go, or make something the night before to enjoy at the kitchen table before you head to work, like this Peanut Butter & Honey Chia Overnight Oat recipe.
Mistake #2: Not drinking water in the morning
Coffee is usually the first thing on a person’s mind in the morning. Knowing the caffeine will jolt you awake can be all it takes to get you out of bed and into the kitchen. One cup might turn into two, and then next thing you know it’s lunchtime and you haven’t had a sip of water.
Instead: Try drinking at least 16 ounces of water (lemon water is even better!) first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to fire up your metabolism, flush out toxins, give you brain fuel, and even help you to consume less food. And if for no other reason, just take into consideration getting a kick start on your hydration for the day.
Mistake #3: Eating flavored yogurt & store-bought granola
Grocery store packaging can be incredibly deceiving. The colors, the print, the standout words like “all natural, “high in fiber,” or “made with real fruit,” are often marketing ploys to get you to buy a product that is filled with immense amounts of added sugar.
Instead: Make sure you read the ingredients carefully. Also opt for plain yogurt instead of flavored, sugar-sweetened yogurt, and unsweetened granola over sweetened with honey, or white or brown sugar. If yogurt and granola together is your morning go-to, try this healthy homemade version that requires little time but promises lots of deliciousness and nutrients without the added sugar or unnecessary calories.
Mistake #4: Not getting protein
One of the reasons breakfast is so important is because, after fasting for eight or so hours, the body is low on energy, protein, vitamins and minerals. Your body needs protein for developing and maintaining lean muscle. And though Americans generally get plenty of protein, the majority is consumed at dinner — when we’re likely using our muscles less. Jumpstarting your day with protein will ensure your body has the energy it needs to power through the day. Protein also keeps you full longer, so you can focus on your tasks rather than reaching for mid-morning snacks.
Instead: Incorporating eggs, yogurt, cheese and lean meats in your morning meal are great ways to get your protein in. This Breakfast Quinoa recipe is another great option, especially if you want an upgrade to your typical oatmeal bowl.
Mistake #5: Eating a bowl of cereal
Whether you don’t feel like dirtying a bunch of dishes to whip up an omelette or you don’t have a ton of time and want to scarf something back quick, cereal isn’t always the way to go. Breakfast cereals are some of the most commonly consumed processed foods that are high in added sugars and refined carbs. Offering little to no nutritional value, they may satisfy you for the moment, but leave you with a sugar crash and grumbling belly not too long after.
Instead: If something crunchy floating in milk is what you crave, make your own! This way you can control all the ingredients, adding in nuts, fruits, spices, seeds, and more. Try this Superfood Coconut Oil Granola with Chia Flax recipe, and eat with almond or coconut milk to make it your healthiest (and most delicious) cereal yet!
Mistake #6: Treating breakfast like dessert with donuts or cinnamon rolls
There’s a common misconception that the less you eat in the morning, the less you need to be concerned about what you’re putting in your body. But that’s simply not true. A bowl of oatmeal will benefit the body in ways a dessert-like indulgence just can’t. So next time you think just grabbing a coffee and a pastry is the way to go, think again! Consuming nothing but empty calories is a bad way to start your day.
Instead: If you like it simple and sweet in the morning, try making a smoothie with cacao powder, banana, strawberries and yogurt. The sweetness is delightful, while the ingredients are nutritious.
Mistake #7: Drinking cups of juice
You may think gulping down a glass of orange juice is a surefire way to give yourself a morning boost of nutrition, but the store-bought varieties, with their added sugars, are anything but. In fact, health experts argue a healthy serving of orange juice is equal to the amount you can squeeze out of one orange.
Instead: You’re better off gulping down a glass of water instead, and actually eating an orange that’s full of vitamins and minerals.