Breakfast on the Run: Thinking Outside the Box
Is your quick breakfast as healthy as you think?
Which of the following foods do you think constitutes a healthy
- 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
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.