When it comes to breakfast, there are a few ways that busy working people can easily run into trouble. When every morning is s a race against the clock, it’s easy to find yourself sacrificing a healthy option for a more convenient alternative. You may even start skipping breakfast altogether - a habit you don’t want to get into.
Studies show that despite eating fewer calories throughout the day, people who skip breakfast tend to weigh more than those who eat breakfast. The exact cause of this is unknown, though we can suspect those who give their body a good source of energy in the morning use it for movement and brain power as they go about their routines. In terms of physiology, eating breakfast improves glucose and insulin responses throughout the day, lowering risk for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Nice!
If better metabolic response doesn’t have you convinced, perhaps a boost in work performance will. Skipping breakfast is associated with fatigue and poor attention during the day. That could mean eating a solid breakfast is just what you need to improve focus on your tasks and projects at the office - dependent of course on what exactly you’re putting on your plate. Who knows...a bowl of wholesome nutrition may turn corporate heads your way! Do I smell a raise?
So….as much as I love and support eating breakfast, you likely won’t see me eating an elaborate fresh veggie frittata on a typical Wednesday morning before work. The reason for this is that I simply don’t have the time on a weekday to craft such a fantastic breakfast. Instead, I eat something that’s quick to whip up or prepared in advance. Planning ahead can make a huge difference in quality of your day’s first meal and how much time you spend preparing it.
Whether you prefer to make a quick dish in the morning, prep something the night before, or take your grub on the run, take a look and see if any of these are for you:
Easy breakfast to make in the morning:
Cereal and milk - An American classic. Find something that is low in sugar (shoot for 7g or less) and high in fiber. Bonus points if there’s extra protein. Even better, throw on some berries to get in your first serving of fruit.
Peanut butter pomegranate toast - Spread a slice or two of whole wheat toast with 2 tbsp peanut butter and top with pomegranate seeds. Make sure your bread has at least 2g fiber per slice.
Fruit and cheese - Try a honey crisp apple and slices of extra sharp cheddar. Also good: a D’Anjou pear with smoked gouda. Try out some of your own fruit/cheese combos!
Melon and cottage cheese - If you can’t commit to slicing a honeydew or cantaloupe yourself, grab some pre-cut cubes (no shame in your game) and pair with 1 cup of cottage cheese.
Easy breakfast to prep the night before:
Overnight oatmeal - Try 1 part steel cut oats, 1 part milk, 1 part yogurt, a handful of blueberries, and some walnut pieces covered in the fridge overnight. In the morning, just pull it out of the fridge and enjoy. See my blog on oats for more on oatmeal.
Crustless veggie quiche - Sauté broccoli, zucchini, and bell peppers until soft. Beat 6 eggs in a bowl, mix in the veggies, and pour into an oiled pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until cooked. Keep in the fridge to eat throughout the week or even freeze.
Yogurt parfait - Layer plain greek yogurt, strawberries, and sliced almonds in a glass. The next morning, simply add a sprinkle of granola and enjoy. Hello probiotics!
Easy breakfast to take on the go:
Fruit and nuts - Blueberries with almonds. Strawberries with walnuts. Raspberries with pistachios. A banana with peanut butter. The combinations are endless! See your guide to nuts here.
Hard boiled eggs - Arrange 2 boiled eggs in a bento box with whole wheat crackers, avocado slices, and some fruit. Pro tip: don’t eat this around your co-workers. No one likes the smell of someone else’s hard boiled eggs in the morning.
Smoothies - Just one of many possibilities: 5oz greek yogurt, ½ cup frozen raspberries, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp honey, and ½ cup of milk or almond milk. Pour into your travel tumbler and be on your way!
Be careful not to fall into a rut. Change it up sometimes to keep things interesting and fun. Eating breakfast is a lot easier if you actually enjoy it. Remember: your breakfast targets are fiber and protein. Since they take a while to digest, they are the keys to staying fuller for longer. Look for food combos that offer a good amount of both.
As always, do your best to avoid highly processed and sugary foods. Pastries, though sometimes convenient, are one of the worst choices for your morning meal. The fat and sugar content are a blow to your metabolic function and will leave you hungry in a matter of minutes. Do I even need to mention the brain crash headed your way after a frosted sprinkle donut breakfast? I don’t think so. Leave those tasty little rings for a very occasional treat.
Nutrition Technique: Breakfast really is the best way to start your day. Not only does it help with weight control and insulin response, it gives your brain the fuel it needs to achieve top performance at work. And with those high stakes, it ought to be a worthwhile meal. It can be difficult for working professionals to find time for a well-rounded meal in the morning, but there are plenty of ways to squeeze it in with the help of a little planning. Whether it’s preparing some oats the prior night or blending a smoothie for the commute, a nutritious breakfast is always worth it!
Amy Jones, MS, RDN, LD