Breakfast can be one of the trickiest meals of the day. Between rushing to get yourself (and maybe kids) out the door, packing lunches, and feeding the dogs—we can forget to prioritize feeding ourselves. To avoid those fast-food breakfast stops or over-complicating your routine, Registered Dietitian Casey Seamon has put together an easy plan to give you energy to conquer the day.
Balance your plate
There are four main categories you want to focus on choosing from at breakfast. First, whole grains. You should aim to make whole grains half of your grain intake for the day. Swap traditional bagels and toast for whole grain versions to add more fiber, which is good for gut health and regularity. Fiber also can improve your blood cholesterol levels. Overall, it'll make you feel more full and you'll be less likely to snack before lunch.
Make it colorful
The second category is fruits and vegetables. Add a fruit or veggie to your plate, and try to eat a rainbow of colors. The average adult should aim for 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies daily. They're packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Quick, easy choices are bananas, berries, apples, oranges, peppers (sauteed in scrambled eggs), kale or spinach in a fruit smoothie.
Curb snack cravings
Next, pick a lean protein. Protein is key in not only building strong muscles, but also helping you achieve satiety, or the feeling of being full. Some great lean protein options include eggs, low-fat yogurt (Greek yogurt contains almost twice as much protein as traditional!) or nut butters.
Give nerves a boost
Finally, the fourth category to add to your better breakfast is dairy. Dairy is important to help us reach our calcium and vitamin D needs throughout the day, which are key in building strong bones and teeth and well as helping our muscles and nerves function properly. While a glass of milk is probably the easiest way to fill this category, you'll want to make sure that it’s low-fat (2% or less). Keep in mind that nut milk alternatives like almond or cashew milk don’t have as much protein.
You can easily mix and match to suit your preferences and keep things interesting. As long as you’re choosing at least 3 of the 4 categories at breakfast each morning, you’ll have built a well-balanced meal to give your body the energy it needs to start the day.
Need some ideas to fill your breakfast plate? Try out one of our healthy breakfast recipes—like freezer-friendly breakfast tacos—that you can make ahead to cut down on morning prep time. If you're looking for something the whole family can enjoy, you may also want to check out our breakfast ideas for picky kids—nutty teddy-bear toast is always a hit on busy weekdays.