It's safe to say that the general public is well aware of its collective sugar addiction. For many, sugar fixes start in the morning and end in the evening, sending our insulin levels on a dangerous roller coaster ride that is out of control. The only thing more frightening than our road to diabetes is that we're still sold on eating processed foods that are very low in fat. If a food is processed (typically packaged) and is promoted as low fat, it's almost always high in sugar. If it's sold to you as low fat and sugar free, then it contains a non-nutritive sweetener, like aspartame or sucralose. You can't win.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but most of us make it the worst meal of the day. Regardless of how much you try to make up for eating a high-sugar breakfast (that you may not have even known was high in sugar), you've already set a chain of events in motion. Once your blood sugar levels are thrown out of whack, it's really hard to regain control. Sugar isn't just calories. Sugar is what sets your hormone, insulin, off on some crazy tangent. After you throw off your insulin, you also throw off a myriad of other hormones that sit in balance with one another, playing a role in weight gain or loss.
If you're not already doing so, below are five breakfasts you should try to avoid...followed by a few alternatives that are easy on sugar and better on your body.
TIP: Consider the category of "carbohydrates" on a package's food facts as sugar. Your body essentially breaks down all carbs as sugar. What you need for immediate energy gets used, and what you don't need gets stored as fat.
1. Coffee House or Store-bought Muffins
They're high in sugar, high in calories and void of any real nutrition. I always think of a muffin as a cupcake without the frosting. Often times they're sweeter, too!
2. Store-bought Granola
Serving sizes are typically between 1/4 and 1/2 of a cup. If you pour a modest cup into your bowl, you're eating too much sugar. In fact, one cup of granola can add up to 550+ calories. Add milk and you're tipping the scales at over 600. Is it really worth it?
3. Waffles and Pancakes
I've done no real research on this, but I'd be willing to bet this is the hallmark "dessert for breakfast" meal...anywhere. No explanation here is really needed.
4. Fruit-flavored Yogurt
The fruit flavoring is where the yogurt gets a lot of the sugar calories. If you're in the camp of people who eat sugar-free fruit-flavored yogurt, you're consuming artificial sweeteners. Even though artificial sweeteners don't have calories, they do have an effect on our hormones. My advice: avoid them.
5. Toast and Jam
Almost all carbohydrate, very little protein and virtually no fat. Nothing anyone should eat regularly.
Ingredients on packaged foods are listed from most to least. If you pick up a package that contains anything that sounds like sugar in the first three to four ingredients, put it back. Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, fructose and even honey are all examples.
What Should You Eat?
Muffins: You can still eat them, but make your own at home. Load them up with healthier ingredients like power-packed almond or peanut butter, high-fiber whole grains and real eggs. Take it easy on the sugar.
Oatmeal with walnuts, cinnamon and your favorite fruit is a lot healthier than any store-bought cereal. Cinnamon helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, so pour it on generously.
Yogurt: My vote will always be for plain yogurt with cinnamon, your favorite fruit or small handful of nuts and cinnamon. Still need something sweet? I like using stevia once in a while.
Toast: Make it whole grain and full of fiber. Then pair it with an egg, a nut butter or cottage cheese.
Still feeling hungry and you're eating enough protein and healthy fat? You might be a coffee cup away from getting your appetite under control. Did you know that caffeine can make you feel hungrier sooner? Avoid caffeine (but don't got cold turkey) and you might see some improvement.
'If you’re not connecting with me yet on Facebook, now is a great time to start! Beginning this February, I’ll be running my first ever blog contest – and I want you to be a part of it. There are some pretty great prizes and an impressive panel of judges – some of whom you may have heard of…especially if you’re a Biggest Loser fan. More details on that coming next week!