The morning scramble can be hectic. Whether you’re trying to squeeze in an early workout or you’re throwing lunches together and shuttling kids to school, it’s tough to find time for a healthy breakfast. The available grab-and-go options might make life easier, but many are heavily processed and full of sugar and preservatives. So how can you get the fuel you need (and none of the stuff you don’t) when you’re rushing out the door?
Get the Most Nutritional Bang for Your Morning Foods
To keep you feeling good throughout the morning, make sure your breakfast includes a source of fiber and protein. Foods high in fiber such as whole grains and fresh fruits provide a steady flow of energy to your brain, helping you to concentrate throughout the morning. Protein foods such as yogurt, nuts, eggs, and string cheese help you to stay full until lunch time.
Don’t Have Dessert for Breakfast
Many “breakfast foods” in the grocery store are less healthy than their packaging would lead you to believe. Many breakfast cereals, muffins, pastries, granola and protein bars, breakfast waffles and toaster tarts are highly processed and full of sugar and/or unhealthy types of fats. They’re essentially desserts disguised as breakfast foods. Their energy boost is often short-lived and could cause you to head to the break room or vending machine in search of snacks mid-morning.
Thankfully, there are much healthier alternatives that won’t spike your blood sugar and leave you crashing – but the truth is, you have to make the time for healthy eating.
Grab-and-Go Means Planning Ahead
With a little planning and few minutes of prep work the night before, you can pack a healthy breakfast to eat on the road or when you arrive at work.
0 Minutes of Prep Work
If you literally have no time the night before, bananas, apples, oranges and other fruits are the original grab-and-go breakfasts. Plus, toss a handful of nuts into a reusable container and you’re on your way to a balanced and filling breakfast, even if you’re eating it on your commute.
Another ultra-speedy option is to have a piece of whole grain toast with natural peanut butter and banana or strawberries. String cheese, whole grain crackers, and a piece of fruit is another great combination that makes for a quick, but healthy, breakfast on the go.
2 Minutes of Prep Work
If you’ve got just 120 seconds to prepare a healthy breakfast, a yogurt parfait is your best friend. Plop some plain Greek yogurt in a reusable container, and coarsely chop whatever fruit you have available. Top it off with a sprinkling of sliced almond or chia seeds.
Or, you can try unsweetened oatmeal; it’s a quick and filling treat. You can prep it in the microwave at work and top it off with raisins for sweetness and chopped walnuts and milk for protein. Sprinkle with cinnamon to spice it up.
Miss your morning cereal? Choose a whole grain, low sugar cereal, and pack it in a Ziploc with two tablespoons of nuts for protein. Pair this with blueberries on the side and you’ve got a healthy breakfast you can eat virtually anywhere.
Don’t forget the most convenient option of all: last night’s leftovers. If you made a healthy dinner the night before, enjoy it as a convenient and nutritionally packed breakfast the next day.
10 Minutes of Prep Work
Three words for you: Hard boiled eggs. Simply boil them the night before; you can put them in a plastic container and eat them on-the-go or at your desk; kids can eat them in the van or bus on the way to school. Not only are eggs delicious and filling, but when you boil them, you skip the added calories of butter or oil that would be there if you fried them.
You’ve got protein in the eggs, so balance it out with a piece of fruit for fiber.
30+ Minutes of Prep Work
If you’ve got time to spare in the evenings, why not use it to make healthy breakfasts that can feed the whole family for the next couple of days? You can make your own musubi with brown rice instead of white rice, and use a cooked egg instead of spam.
You can also try making veggie egg patties. Think of these as the McDonald’s Egg McMuffin 2.0 – way healthier, still delicious. Whip eggs and low-fat milk in a bowl and toss in some spinach or coarsely chopped broccoli. Throw the mixture in a regular muffin tin and bake. You’ll end up with convenient, round omelette-like patties that are perfect on their own, or accompanied with a piece of whole wheat toast, or even wrapped in lettuce.
Mornings are crazy, but skipping breakfast is even crazier. Starting the day off with a healthy breakfast can help you control your weight, improve performance at work or school and reduce your risk of heart disease. Best of all, you’ll feel better. Thankfully, there are plenty of healthy – and convenient – options out there.