Healthy breakfast

It might be the last thing on your morning to-do list, or worse, it might not be on your list at all. But a healthy breakfast refuels your body, jump-starts your day and may even benefit your overall health. So don’t skip this meal — it may be more important than you think.

Even if you’re short on time, quick and flexible options you can grab at home give you plenty of healthy ways to put breakfast back on your daily menu.

The benefits of a healthy breakfast

Breakfast gives you a chance to start each day with a healthy and nutritious meal. It also lays the foundation for lifelong health benefits.

Benefits for adults
When you eat a healthy breakfast, you’re more likely to:

Benefits for children
Breakfast is especially important for children and adolescents. According to the American Dietetic Association, children who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to:

The basics of a healthy breakfast

Even though you know a healthy breakfast has many benefits, you may not be sure what exactly counts as a healthy breakfast.

Here’s what forms the core of a healthy breakfast:

Together, these core groups provide complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein and a small amount of fat — a combination that packs big health benefits and that also can leave you feeling full for hours.

Try to choose one or two options from each category to round out a healthy breakfast.

What to look for in dry cereals

Cereal may frequently be your go-to item for breakfast, whether your grab a handful to eat dry while on the run, or you have time for a quick bowl with milk. But not all cereals are created equal. So when choosing a breakfast cereal, try to put a little thought into your decision by reading the nutrition label and ingredient list. Remember that a serving size is typically 3/4 cup to 1 cup. The key items to look for are:

Examples of good options for dry breakfast cereals
Cereal, 1-cup serving Fiber in grams Sugar in grams Calories
Kellogg’s All-Bran Bran Buds 39 24 225
General Mills Fiber One 28 0 120
Kellogg’s All-Bran Original 18 10 161
Kashi Go Lean 10 6 148
Post Raisin Bran 7 16 178
Post Spoon-Size Shredded Wheat 6 0 167
General Mills Cheerios 3 1 103
Quaker Life Cereal, plain 3 8 149

Sources: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21; USDA What’s in the Foods You Eat, 3.0

Remember to top off your bowl of cereal with some sliced fruit and low-fat or skim milk. Or if you’re on the go, take along a piece of fruit and a carton of milk with your dry cereal.

Cereal bars
Cereal bars also may be a good breakfast option. Just be sure to look for those that meet the same guidelines as dry cereal. Also, don’t forget some fruit and low-fat milk or yogurt to round things out. Even fruit or yogurt cereal bars won’t satisfy all your nutrition requirements for breakfast.

Quick and flexible breakfast options

Whether you tend to stick with traditional breakfast options or you prefer the variety offered by nontraditional breakfast fare, you have plenty of ways to get in a healthy breakfast each day.

Here are some specific examples of healthy breakfast options:

Fitting in a healthy breakfast

If you skip breakfast because you think you don’t have time in the morning, plan ahead. The night before, figure out what you’ll eat, and if necessary, get up 10 minutes earlier to enjoy it. Or pack something the night before to take with you the next morning. If your kids don’t get a nutritious breakfast at school, don’t let them leave home without it.

Also, if you skip breakfast because you want to save calories, realize that you may be setting yourself up for failure later in the day. Chances are you’ll be ravenous by lunchtime, which may lead you to eat more or turn to fast but unhealthy options — such as the doughnuts or cookies a co-worker brings to the office.

Your morning meal doesn’t have to mean loading up on sugar and fats, and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming to be healthy. Keep the breakfast basics in mind and set yourself up for healthier eating all day long.

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