A few factors make breakfast challenging. You’re tired. It’s early. You don’t have a lot of time to prepare and to get creative in the kitchen. Plus there are so many convenient, quick breakfast options on the grocery store shelves, at drive-thrus and at coffee shops.
The easy choices become a bowl of cereal, toast and jam, granola bars, a fruity yogurt cup, or frozen waffles with syrup. Maybe you eat on the run and make a quick stop on the way to the office for a breakfast sandwich, or coffee and muffin. Some of you likely wait and nuke a sugary packet of oatmeal once you get to work.
While these might be the quick and easy options, they certainly aren’t doing your health any favours. Most of these are carbohydrate dense and so it’s not just the added sugars but the carbs themselves that break down into sugar.
Plus with most of these processed foods, all of the fibre has been removed and so you aren’t left with much in the way of real nutrients. What you have is an influx of the nasty white stuff that can, over time, lead to a whole host of potential health problems. Not to mention, the huge spike they’ll cause in your blood glucose levels, and you’ll be looking for another sugar fix a couple hours later.
Let’s take a look at the sugar content of some common breakfast foods:
Breakfast bars – Can have upwards of 25 grams of added sugar per bar.
Fruit flavoured yogurt – Fruit flavouring and artificial sweeteners can add about 30 grams of sugar to a six ounce container.
Muffins – Packaged muffins can deliver over 32 grams of added sugar. That’s more than a snickers bar!
Packaged cereals – Kellogg’s Raisin Bran Crunch has 20 grams of added sugar in one serving. General Mills Oatmeal Crisp Crunchy Almond has 16 grams of added sugar.
Frozen waffles and syrup – Two packaged waffles and some maple flavoured table syrup will give you about 35 grams of added sugar.
Flavoured Coffee – A Starbuck’s grande, non-fat, vanilla latte has a whooping 35 grams of added sugar.
My favourite sugar-free breakfast alternatives:
1. Smoothies – For those of you with little time in the morning and needing a quick transportable meal, a smoothie is a great option. Many of the store bought, pre-packaged smoothies can have a lot of sugar in them, so making your own is the best route. My basic method is to start with water as a base, add in some veggies (usually spinach and cucumber), then fruit for sweetness (frozen berries or an apple), half an avocado for some good fat and creaminess, and then maybe some chia, flax or hemp for some added protein. Give it a good whiz in the blender and you’ve got enough for breakfast and then a mid-morning snack.
2. Grain-Free Granola, Muffins and Pancakes – Processed, refined, gluten and sugar-filled boxed cereals, pancake mixes and store-bought muffins are staple breakfasts in many households. Using nuts, seeds and flours made from nuts allow you to enjoy these favourite breakfast without all the downsides.
3. Eggs – Are always a great breakfast choice. Soft boiled, poached, scrambled or over easy with a side of fruit can be a great breakfast. You can also make a batch egg muffins and reheat them in the morning. Eggs are so versatile. They also pair really well with many types of veggies making a doubly good, nutrient dense start to the day.
4. Veggies – In North America we don’t typically eat many veggies at breakfast. We prefer them for lunch and dinner while many eastern cultures enjoy them for breakfast. Vegetables are a great way to kick off your day. I believe that vegetables should form the foundation of your diet, so getting them in whenever you can is a good goal to have. Adding veggies in with your eggs and smoothies are brilliant ideas. As well, in the colder months I love a hot bowl of soup for breakfast. I invite you to try an experiment – have vegetables for breakfast and see how you feel.
If you’re struggling with ideas for healthy sugar free breakfast recipes, download my free Breakfast E-Book with nine sugar, gluten, dairy and grain free recipes that will rev your metabolism and keep you energized throughout the day.
* This post was originally published in the Herald Community on February 9, 2015.