Eating a healthy breakfast every morning can boost weight loss, protect against disease and make your entire body function better throughout the rest of the day. Breakfast can also improve concentration and mood. The components of a healthy breakfast are similar to any healthy meal, with a focus on nutritious ingredients. Preparation for a healthy breakfast can often be done the night before, freeing up your busy morning.
A healthy breakfast contains one or more of four core food groups: whole grains, low-fat dairy, low-fat protein and fruits and vegetables. Whole grains provide carbohydrates to fuel daily activity and fiber to keep the digestive system in good condition. Low-fat dairy provides calcium and vitamin D to keep bones strong. Low-fat protein supplies the amino acid building blocks for cellular repair and production. Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that keep cellular processes functioning and protect the body from disease.
Many people don't get enough nutrients in their diet; breakfast can be a chance to front-load your day with vitamins and minerals you might miss out on otherwise. Even better, most traditional breakfast foods feature the nutrients people need most. Orange or grapefruit juice is an excellent source of vitamin C. Eggs, breakfast meats such as Canadian bacon or sausage and fortified cereals can provide iron. Milk and yogurt are great calcium sources. Folate is present in fortified whole grain products and fruits and vegetables provide a wide range of necessary nutrients.
At a restaurant or when getting fast food for breakfast, remember to avoid high levels of salt, saturated fat and sugar. Look for 100 percent fruit juices and menu items listed as heart-healthy or light. If necessary, ask that dishes be altered to reduce salt or fat levels. For example, at a restaurant choose whole wheat toast with your breakfast instead of white toast and ask that full-fat cheese be eliminated from your omelet.
Cooked hot cereal, such as oatmeal, served with berries and a glass of milk can provide whole grains, dairy and fruit for breakfast. Avoid instant oatmeal with added sugars and choose steel-cut oatmeal or rolled oats instead. Whole grain hot cereals can be made the night before and stored in the refrigerator. Another option is an egg white omelet with spinach and cheese. Whole grain waffles with peanut butter and a glass of orange juice on the side is another healthy breakfast idea. You don't have to eat the same kind of breakfast every day, but having a few standby options can eliminate the need to decide what to make every morning.
Fixing a healthy breakfast in the morning doesn't have to be difficult, but on some days you may feel like you just don't have time to put together a morning meal. Keeping in mind the guidelines for breakfast nutrition can help you decide what to eat on days when you're in a hurry. Instead of reaching for sugary pastries or cereal when you're on the go, opt for a healthy breakfast bar or a piece of whole wheat toast and an apple to tide you over until you can eat something more substantial.