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Breakfast on the Run: Thinking Outside the Box

Is your quick breakfast as healthy as you think?
By
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Exclusive Feature

Which of the following foods do you think constitutes a healthy breakfast?

  • A bran muffin
  • A supermarket smoothie
  • A cereal bar
  • A bowl of corn flakes

If you're like most folks, you probably think any of the above would be a pretty healthy way to start your day.

In truth, experts say, any of the four could be a less-than-optimal choice -- unless you know what to look for.

"A lot of times breakfast foods play on certain buzzwords that we have come to associate with good health, but you have to look at the whole picture -- everything a food contains -- before you can determine if it's really a good choice," says Miriam Pappo Klein, MS, RD, clinical nutrition manager at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

At the same time, studies show that it's vital to eat breakfast. Skipping it can lead to problems in both the short and the long run.

"Research shows that people who skip breakfast frequently consume a greater number of calories throughout the day than those who start the day with a meal," says Samantha Heller, MS, RD, senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center.

Studies also report that those who eat breakfast think better, start their day in a better mood, and have more energy to burn, Heller says.

So what should you choose to start your day off on the right foot? Experts say there are plenty of choices -- if you learn think outside the box!

And, of course, your breakfast is just one part of your overall diet. If there's a certain breakfast item you love that's less than totally healthy, go for it. Just make sure your other food choices are wise ones. The most important thing is to start the day with something.

Choosing a Breakfast Cereal

There's no question that Americans love their breakfast cereal. And experts agree that it can be one of the best ways to start your day.

"The breakfast that has been shown over and over to be the healthiest - and it's almost impossible to beat - is a bowl of whole-grain cereal, non-fat milk, and a piece of fruit," says Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, author of the book "10 Habits That Mess Up aA Woman's Diet."

But not all cereals are alike, says Somer. Choosing the wrong one can mean you miss out on some of the nutritional payback. So what should you look for?

First on Somers' own list is fiber: "A good breakfast cereal should have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving or more," she says.

While we may be swayed by claims of vitamins and minerals, or by healthy-sounding phrases like "all -natural" or "multigrain," experts say these things have little meaning if the fiber isn't adequate.

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