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Ten Tips for a Healthier Breakfast

June 2012

Karen Ensle EdD, RD, FADA, CFCS
Family & Community Health Sciences Educator
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County

Did you know that people who eat breakfast are significantly less likely to be obese and diabetic than those who usually don't? Research indicates that children who eat breakfast are more likely to have better concentration, problem-solving skills, and hand-eye coordination. According to a large “Breakfast Study” conducted in Minnesota, students who ate breakfast had better math grades and reading scores. The researchers also noticed that student attention increased, nurse visits in school decreased, and student behavior improved.

Unfortunately, many breakfast foods contain a lot of sugar and have been stripped of their natural nutrients. Try to avoid frosted and chocolate cereals, donuts, white bread, and high-sugar breakfast bars. Instead of sugary juices, consume 100% fruit juices or fat-free or low-fat milk. Better yet, eat fresh fruit rather than drinking juice. Eating only sugary foods may cause one to have erratic energy levels. Eating a balanced breakfast will help everyone in the family to get going and sustain their energy until lunch time. Beloware some more tips for a healthy breakfast:

Oatmeal is Quick
Instant oatmeal is great on a cold morning and contains fiber and vitamins. Choose oatmeal that isn't already presweetened and add raisins or fresh fruit to sweeten it.

Healthy Smoothies
Blend frozen fruit (bananas and berries are great), low-fat or fat-free yogurt, and 100% fruit juice for a quick, tasty breakfast smoothie with lots of nutrients.

Go 100% Whole Grain
One hundred percent fiber-containing, whole-grain cereals served with 1% or fat-free milk are a healthy choice. Whole-wheat muffins with smashed bananas, apple sauce, or a small amount of peanut butter are easy and tasty as well.

Boil, scramble or poach eggs and serve on whole-wheat toast. They're packed with nutrition, and easy to serve.

Toaster Treats
Frozen whole-grain waffles take almost no time to make. Top them with berries, applesauce, or sliced bananas instead of syrup.

Add Nuts for Protein
Spreading peanut or almond butter on whole-grain toast is a great way to get both protein and fiber.

Go Fruity
Fresh fruit with a dollop of low-fat or fat-free yogurt is a great way to start the day. Fresh fruit is a good source of fiber and minerals such as potassium.

Try All-Fruit Spreads
Instead of butter or margarine on toast, try all-fruit spreads, fruit butters or even sliced kiwi or strawberries.

Bagel Classics
Try a whole-wheat or whole-grain bagel with low-fat cream cheese or peanut butter.

Breakfast On-the-Go
If you don't have time to eat breakfast at home, keep whole-grain mini bagels on hand or small muffins, packets of nuts, and dried fruits that can be taken with you to work or a meeting. Apple slices and bananas are easy to take and not too messy!

Remember, small changes in your breakfast habits can make a difference in your health and how you feel all day long. A healthy breakfast does not have to take a lot of time. Stick to the basics and serve simple foods that are nutritious and quick to prepare in the morning.