Julie Whittington, RD

Healthy tips from a Registered Dietitian

A healthy day begins with a balanced breakfast

Sure you have heard it a million times:  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Well, it sure is essential if you are going to follow a balanced meal plan and achieve maximum health potential.  Just as lunch, dinner and usually at least one snack are important to your daily eating plan, breakfast is, as well.


If you are concerned about not feeling hungry in the morning or not having enough time to eat breakfast, perhaps you should re-evaluate your daily routine.  Ask yourself the following questions if you regularly skip breakfast or eat an unbalanced breakfast in the morning: (1) Am I dragging by mid-morning? (2) Am I grouchy and lacking concentration in the morning? (3) Do I tend to get very hungry mid-afternoon or late in the evening? (4) Are my other responsibilities (i.e. work, camp, etc.) more important than staying healthy?


If you answered “yes” to any of the first 3 questions, you are not alone.  These are common side effects of missing out on a balanced breakfast.  If you balance our the other meals and snacks in your day, most of the time, your hunger patterns will balance themselves out.  In this way, you will awake to break the “fast” of sleeping through the night with a refuel of your body.  You may have trouble with this if you tend to overeat in the evening or middle of the night, or if your body is malnourished. 


Finding a balance to your eating routine will help you get breakfast on track.  And, hopefully, you hold your health and feelings of wellness to a high enough level in your mind that you can place them above other responsibilities in your life.


So, whether you are looking for a quick and convenient breakfast menu or something that will simply interest the kids, there are ideas out there for you.  And, there are plenty of convenient, healthy ideas that do not involve foods like donuts, multicolored breakfast cereal, soda, pastries, or greasy fast food breakfast sandwiches.  If you think about what those foods – many of which contain artificial and health-harmful ingredients – are actually doing to your body, it may help sway you in the other direction.  For more information on the health effects of food ingredients such as trans fats, artificial colorings and high fructose corn syrup, see below. 


Listed below are some helpful ideas to get you going in the morning.  For more ideas, work with a dietitian or search the internet. 


  • Whole grain cereal (i.e. Cheerios, Kashi, Chex), milk and fruit.  Either put it all in one bowl or make baggies of dry cereal and grab a milk box and banana.
  • Whole grain granola bar (i.e. Kashi, Cascadian Farms, Luna, Clif) and a drinkable yogurt.  Avoid artificially colored and flavored yogurts or those with a lot of added sugar.  Best choices are brands like Stonyfield Farm that are natural or organic (contain no growth hormones) and contain no artificial sweeteners.  If you are a diabetic, opt for light versions that use sweeteners like Splenda.  Otherwise, just go for the ones that fit your price and calorie budget, while still tasting good!
  • Make your own smoothies for the week.  On Sunday, blend a batch of plain yogurt, frozen fruit (your choice), optional scoop of whey protein powder for extra protein, optional herbs like mint, 2tbsp of flaxseed or wheat germ, optional 1-2 tbsp honey for sweetness (if you are not diabetic – otherwise, omit or use Splenda or Stevia) and optional 1-2 handfuls of ice.  Blend and store in the freezer until ready to use.  Each morning, let thaw on the countertop 5 minutes and re-blend on the blender base.  Pour a glass and restore leftovers!  Otherwise, keep yogurt, fruit and other ingredients mixed in a pitcher in the fridge and blend a cupful with ice each morning.
  • Carnation Instant Breakfast (or alternative protein-rich drink), a piece of fruit and water.
  • Hardboiled egg (purchase ones already hardboiled, such as Eggland’s Best brand), 2 slices of toast, 2 tsp tub margarine or fruit preserves and a glass of 100% orange juice
  • English muffin with slice of natural cheese, 2 egg whites (scrambled or hardboiled) and a piece of fruit (i.e. orange, pear, 1 cup berries)

 Ingredients to avoid or limit:


Trans fats:  Fats found to increase bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease good cholesterol (HDL).  Often found in stick margarines and processed foods such as pastries, cookies, chips, crackers and some donuts.  Many manufacturers are trying to remove trans fats from their products due to health concerns.  See article on my website regarding McDonald’s removing trans fats from their French fries.


Artificial colorings: Used to make foods or beverages a certain color when natural ingredients do not “do the trick”.  Examples include many brightly colored and high sugar breakfast cereals, sodas and candies.  Some experts associate artificial colorings to a risk of hyperactivity (specifically ADHD) in children, allergies and even cancers.  See the links below for more information.






High fructose corn syrup:  This ingredient, used to sweeten many foods and beverages has been in the spotlight lately.  Some experts link HFCS to the obesity problem in the US.  Some animal studies link it to an increased risk of diabetes and high cholesterol.  This ingredient, however, is considered GRAS (generally regarded as safe) according to the FDA.  The main problem may be that foods and beverages that contain HFCS are often low in healthful ingredients while being high in sugars, artificial ingredients (i.e. in sodas) or fat (i.e. desserts that contain both high fats and high sugars).  Visit the following websites for more information.



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