If you want to start your day right, focus on eating a balanced breakfast. This not only starts you out on the right foot but also gives you the right type of healthy energy that you need to absolutely kill your day. If you start your day out with processed garbage or nothing at all, you’ll feel hungry and unsatisfied, which can impact the way you approach the day on both a physical and a mental level.
At Over Easy, we know how tricky mornings can be. That’s why we’ve come up with a few quick, easy ways to help you have a nutritious, balanced breakfast, which can help you make a real change in the way you attack your day.
The Benefits Of Eating A Balanced Breakfast
Let’s talk a little bit more about all of the many benefits of eating a good breakfast.
- You’ll increase your intake of essential vitamins and minerals.
- You can more easily control your weight, whether you're looking for weight loss, gain, or maintenance.
- You’ll be able to more easily control your blood sugar (especially important for diabetics and pre-diabetics).
- You may perform better at work or school.
- It will be easier to concentrate and focus when you need to.
- You’ll have a lower risk of developing heart disease.
Each of these things is important on its own, and if you can gain those health benefits by just eating a delicious breakfast, why wouldn’t you?
What Exactly Is A Balanced Breakfast?
Ok. So you’re convinced now. But do you know what a balanced breakfast really is? Before you can implement our quick, easy breakfast ideas, it’s important for you to really understand what the end goal is and what you’re looking for.
According to most dietitians, the following are the core food groups to look for in a healthy, well-balanced breakfast:
- Lean proteins - Protein is not only a source of energy but also a building block for muscles and tissues in the body. It’s also critical, as it helps carry oxygen through the body in your bloodstream. Lean proteins will help you avoid unnecessary fats, too. Examples of breakfast proteins are lean meats like turkey sausage, eggs, nut butters, chia seeds, and legumes (beans, etc.).
- Whole grains - Whole grains are one of the foundations of a balanced breakfast. They’re high in fiber and complex carbs and can help you feel fuller longer. Examples of whole grains in a breakfast situation are whole grain cereals, whole wheat English muffins, bagels, and waffles. They’re a great base for the other core balanced breakfast components.
- Low-fat dairy products - Dairy products are another important source of carbs, protein, vitamins, and minerals (especially calcium). Examples of low-fat dairy that you can add to your breakfast are low-fat milk, Greek yogurt, and low-fat cheese like cottage cheese. If you choose not to eat dairy, there are plenty of milk alternatives like soy, oat, and almond milk. Orange juice is also fortified with many of the same vitamins and minerals.
- Fresh fruits and veggies - Fresh fruits and vegetables add fiber and essential vitamins and minerals to your diet. If you’re unable to access fresh produce, frozen or dried fruits and vegetables and 100% low sugar fruit juices are a great alternative. Just don’t fall for anything that says juice “cocktail” because it'll be full of added sugars.
Tip #1: Plan Ahead
When working on eating a more well-balanced breakfast, you’ve gotta plan ahead. You can’t expect that you can roll out of bed and put together a healthy meal with no preparation. Evening you might think so, but pre-coffee morning you is going to have a very different idea. Mornings are hectic enough as it is, so adding one more dimension to that struggle can just derail the entire thing.
Planning ahead can change all that. The evening before, think about what your breakfast options are the next day. If there is any prep work that you can do ahead for your breakfast recipes, do it. Preparing a smoothie and freezing it, making egg cups that you can microwave, prepping plain yogurt and granola, or just making sure that you have fresh fruit diced up that you can grab and go can help guarantee that you’ll have a healthy breakfast without stressing yourself out.
Tip #2: Stay Away From Drive Through Coffee
Even if you’re focusing on eating a healthy breakfast, the drive-through coffee calling your name can be hard to resist. Caffeine can be addictive, leading you to feel like you can’t wake up without it. Sugar is addictive as well, so the combination of the two in an easy to purchase format is too good for most people to pass up. We all want our fix.
This isn’t a great idea for a number of reasons, however.
Over time, even if you’re only going once or twice a week, drive-through coffee can become incredibly expensive. It’s not unusual for people to spend $20 or $30 a week, potentially even more. When added up through the month, that’s over $100 just on coffee! Imagine what you can do with $100 extra a month, or $1200 a year! It’s a bit of a cliche these days, and you can still treat yourself occasionally but skip the coffee line every single day.
In addition, these coffees are packed full of sugar and calories. It’s possible to consume nearly an entire days worth of calories in a single cup and far more sugar than it’s recommended that we consume. Yes, we’re talking about you, frappuccinos. The caffeine it provides really just isn’t worth the potentially dangerous health effects, no matter how good they taste.
Instead, consider purchasing a better home coffeemaker. Look for a coffee maker that allows you to set it ahead of time. That way, you can just make the coffee up the night before and let it do its thing. You’ll wake up to the delicious smell of coffee without having to do anything, and you’ll save money in the process.
Tip #3: Focus On Brain Food
Because your breakfast choices can majorly impact your ability to focus and the attitude with which you approach your entire day, making sure that you’re eating the right foods to promote that is key.
In addition to making sure that you include all of the core components of a healthy breakfast (whole grains, lean proteins, lean dairy, and fresh fruits and vegetables), there are also superfoods out there that are specifically good for improving both your focus and your mental health.
One of the absolute best foods in this category is blueberries! Many people refer to blueberries as a superfood, and for good reason. It’s one of the top 20 foods containing antioxidants, as well as being incredibly low calorie and fat-free (and also just plain tastes good). It’s also a great source of a number of different vitamins and minerals that are essential for the body, like B vitamins. They can be added to a smoothie, added to oatmeal or cereal for a winning combo, or even just eaten raw as a snack.
Vitamin B, in particular, has often been considered an important factor in the health of the body. Eggs are an excellent source of B-12, which is why we’ve chosen to include them in our Over Easy Breakfast bars. B-12 helps reduce the fatigue and mental fog that can be associated with not being able to concentrate at work or school. Other foods that are high in vitamin B-12 include soy and fortified cereals and juices.
Tip #4: Don’t Be Afraid To Grab And Go
Not every healthy breakfast food has to be homemade, and let's face it: some mornings, we don't even have time to toast a slice of whole-grain bread. With some research, you can be better prepared to make a grocery store trip and look for healthy options. Look for breakfast bars that are low in sugar and made from as many whole foods as possible like complex carbohydrates, natural peanut butter, and whole grains like oats. Hmmm...what company do we know that makes bars like that?
Even making this small change, so that you have something in your stomach instead of going into work or school hungry, can really impact the way that you approach the day.
Let’s be honest… being hangry is a real problem. When you’re hangry, it’s a whole other level than simple hunger. Your blood sugar drops low, your body produces a hormone known as Neuropeptide Y (that is related to both hunger and aggression), and the levels of cortisol and epinephrine increase (which can make you feel even more irritable). You won’t be able to make rational decisions, your emotions will be heightened, and you’re far more likely to snap at your annoying coworker that you can usually tolerate.
Just grabbing a quick breakfast bar on your way out the door can help fend off those feelings, at least temporarily. Obviously, though, an entire well-balanced breakfast is a much better option.
Eating a healthy breakfast is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. It sets you up for a kick-ass day, keeps you full, and gives you the nutrients that you need to keep your body running smoothly. Over Easy knows that breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, and starting out on the right foot can help your mental health as well. Kick gumpy mornings and hanger to the curb, and start the day off right with a delicious breakfast made from whole, natural ingredients.