Getting Off to a Good Start with Breakfast: Part 2

In last week’s blog entry (“Getting Off to a Good Start with Breakfast: Part 1”),
we talked about the importance of eating breakfast and all the health benefits that result from fueling yourself with food at the start of the day.

So maybe now you’re convinced that eating breakfast is a good thing. But perhaps you’re scratching your head, thinking “What the heck do I eat for breakfast?”

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I suspect that a fair number of you would admit to eating some “unusual” things for breakfast. If you recall, in last week’s post I mentioned a poll done by ABC News in 2005 that focused on breakfast. Participants were asked about typical breakfast choices. Here’s a sampling of some of the more interesting items on the list:

What have you eaten for breakfast? The point of all this is that if you don’t eat breakfast because you dislike cereal, or are lactose intolerant, or just don’t know what to eat, no problem. There’s no rule that you must eat “breakfast” food for breakfast. (How many of you have eaten a bowl of cereal for supper on occasion?) On the other hand, it’s not such a great idea to grab, say, a candy bar, or wolf down a bowl of ice cream. Likewise, a hamburger and fries isn’t what dietitians have in mind either.

So what should you eat? Well, rules of good nutrition still apply. Try to aim for a breakfast that contains a balance of the three main nutrients that our bodies need for fuel and good health: carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Make sure that your breakfast includes fiber, too. If you’re counting calories, carbs, and/or fat grams, a dietitian is the best person to help you decide how much you need. But a quick guide is for men to aim for 45–60 grams of carbohydrate at breakfast and women to aim for about 30–45 grams. You may need more or less depending on factors such as your weight, your activity level, and your blood glucose control.

That being said, and while there are no foods you can’t ever eat, you may want to save the bacon, sausage, and egg sandwiches with cheese for those special occasions. And if you eat cereal with milk or yogurt, go for nonfat or low-fat versions of those dairy products. If you’re lactose intolerant, try either lactose-free milk or plain soy or rice milk.

What about eggs? Eggs sure have gotten a bad rap over the years, but they are actually a highly nutritious food, containing high-quality protein, iron, and zinc. Yes, they also contain cholesterol, but it’s really the saturated and trans fat in foods, not the cholesterol in foods, that raises blood cholesterol levels. It’s OK to eat eggs; in fact, studies show that eating one or two eggs every day has little effect on cholesterol levels. So go ahead and enjoy eggs—just be sure to cook them either without fat or with a heart-healthy fat, such as canola oil or trans-fat-free margarine. And if you’re still concerned about the cholesterol in egg yolks, don’t forget you that can always eat egg whites or egg substitutes, too.

Here are some more good ideas for breakfast:

Bon appetit!

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Amy Campbell: Amy Campbell is the author of Staying Healthy with Diabetes: Nutrition and Meal Planning and a frequent contributor to Diabetes Self-Management and Diabetes & You. She has co-authored several books, including the The Joslin Guide to Diabetes and the American Diabetes Association’s 16 Myths of a “Diabetic Diet,” for which she received a Will Solimene Award of Excellence in Medical Communication and a National Health Information Award in 2000. Amy also developed menus for Fit Not Fat at Forty Plus and co-authored Eat Carbs, Lose Weight with fitness expert Denise Austin. Amy earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Simmons College and a master’s degree in nutrition education from Boston University. In addition to being a Registered Dietitian, she is a Certified Diabetes Educator and a member of the American Dietetic Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Amy was formerly a Diabetes and Nutrition Educator at Joslin Diabetes Center, where she was responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of disease management programs, including clinical guideline and educational material development, and the development, testing, and implementation of disease management applications. She is currently the Director of Clinical Education Content Development and Training at Good Measures. Amy has developed and conducted training sessions for various disease and case management programs and is a frequent presenter at disease management events.

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