Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you have the habit of enjoying a few buttery slices of toast and downing a giant glass of juice first thing in the morning, however, it could spell diet disaster. By making just a few changes, you can turn your typical morning meal into a breakfast for weight loss champions.
1) "Bye-Bye, Drive-Thru!"Say farewell to the fast food places that beckon you on your way to work, and begin to make smarter choices at home instead. Consider breakfast as the way to fuel your day. A donut just won't do the trick. A sausage and egg biscuit will weigh you down, not get your motor running. If you think of breakfast as setting the course for the rest of your day, you'll start thinking healthy instead of fast, cheap, and convenient.
2) Remember That Even "Healthy" Calories CountKeep an eye on your intake of fruit juices. One 6-oz. glass of fruit juice will run between 80 and 100 calories. Before you drink juice, have a tall glass of water -- you'll end up drinking less juice. Better still, instead of drinking your fruit, have the real thing. Juice causes your blood sugar to spike and insulin to surge, which can stimulate your appetite. Whole fruits are a good source of fiber, which can help curb your appetite.
- Count your calories online with Calorie Count Plus.
3) Be a Picky CustomerIf you go to a restaurant for breakfast, ask if you can order items from the menu a la carte, such as eggs without the usual side of bacon. Don't be afraid to ask for substitutions, such as egg whites for whole eggs, or even request items that aren't on the menu. Healthier choices like yogurt, fruit, a whole wheat bagel, or cottage cheese may be available on request.
Just say no to side orders at restaurants. Home fries, hash browns, breakfast meats, and butter-laden grits are diet downfalls. They're all high in fat, sodium, and calories. (Almost half of the fat found in breakfast potato dishes comes from the fat used to cook them.) If you can't have eggs without a breakfast meat alongside, choose Canadian bacon -- you could save hundreds of calories over the course of your sittings.
4) Settle for a Single SpreadIf you're used to putting butter or margarine on your toast along with jam, preserves, or jelly, try skipping the fat-laden spread and just add the fruity stuff. You may find your toast is just as tasty without the added fat.
Tip: Try an all-fruit spread. My pick is Pollaner Strawberry All-fruit.
5) Make "Egg-cellent" OmelettesOmelettes can be a good choice if you use egg whites. If you prefer, use one whole egg and two egg whites; you'll still consume fewer calories, less fat and less cholesterol than using whole eggs alone. Reduced-fat cheese is much better these day (my pick is Kraft 2% reduced-fat shredded cheddar.) Or, try forgoing it altogether and load up with lots of vegetables instead. Avoid adding bacon or sausage; you'll add lots of fat, calories, and sodium if you do.
Tip: Imitation bacon bits are made from soy rather than bacon, so sprinkle them on for the same flavor as real bacon bits without the fat.
6) Pass On Breakfast Breads and PastriesMuffins, croissants, donuts, biscuits and cinnamon buns should only be an occasional indulgence. Also be careful about non-fat varieties when you do splurge -- they often contain more sugar than their regular counterparts, as well as fat replacements that significantly increase their calorie count. I was surprised to find my favorite low-fat bran muffin actually has more calories than one that's full-fat.
Calorie Count Plus can also help you research the calories and fat in your favorite foods (and find options that are easier on your waistline).
Tip: Always compare nutrition labels when making a purchase, whether you're shopping for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
7) Choose a Smarter CerealIf you normally have a bowl of cold cereal, give hot cereal a try. Oatmeal is a great choice. It is rich in fiber, which will keep you feeling full, and does your health good by helping reduce cholesterol. Oats contain water-soluble fiber, and its carbohydrates release slowly into the bloodstream, helping to keep cravings from coming on fast. When choosing cold cereals, pick whole grain varieties for the extra fiber they provide.
Tip: "Made with whole grains" doesn't mean the same thing as "100% whole grain." Choose 100% whole grain products as often as possible.
8) Downsize Your Dairy CaloriesIf you're a whole milk drinker, try stepping down to 2% and then 1% after a few weeks. If non-fat milk is too weak for you, consider going back to 1%. It is worth saving the fat and calories.
9) Pick a Better BreadChoose whole wheat bread products in the morning to get off to a great start. Whole grains will help you stay fuller longer than refined carbs, plus they have more fiber. Have a whole wheat English muffin instead of a regular one, and top it with hummus, peanut butter, or reduced-fat cheese for a quick breakfast that will stick to your ribs (figuratively, of course).
Tip: Broil an English muffin with cheese in a toaster oven for a few minutes for a quick breakfast grilled cheese.
10) Make Your Own Fast FoodThink of portable foods you enjoy that can serve as replacements for fast food. A low-fat vanilla yogurt cup and a cereal bar is a quick, convenient breakfast that's easy to take with you. Be creative! Even cottage cheese becomes portable if you wrap it in a whole-wheat tortilla; add some pieces of fruit before you roll it up for extra flavor, fiber, and vitamins.
Tip: A turkey sandwich is a great choice for those "but I don't like breakfast" folks. A couple of slices of turkey breast on whole wheat bread with low-fat mayo will provide a balance of protein and good carbs to start your day off right. You may wish to add low-fat cheese, lettuce and tomato to make it even heartier.