What’s Working for Me: Breakfast

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When I shared with you a few weeks ago that I’m not on a diet, I also said that I’d share with you what has (and hasn’t) been working for me when it comes to losing weight. So over the coming weeks, I’m committing to posting, eh… about once per week on that subject. Feel free to comment on what works for you to keep yourself healthy as well.

Recently, I found a show On Demand called Drop 5 lbs. I had actually heard about this show while looking through a magazine somewhere. The emphasis is on making small lifestyle changes in order to lose those next five pounds. Doesn’t that sound a little like my philosophy right now?!

When I first read the advertisement for the show in Good Housekeeping, I got excited because two of my favorite Food Network stars were slotted to host it. Then I saw it was on the Cooking Channel, which we don’t have. I turned the page and forgot about it. I rarely check what is On Demand, so it was only by chance that I came across it the other day! I’ve watched a few episodes since and I do like the little snippets of tips on food choices, cooking, diet and exercise.

However, one episode about breakfast really got me thinking that I might be giving you all the wrong impression. You see, in past posts I’ve mentioned numerous times that the more I eat in the morning, the more I set myself up for failure in eating too much by the end of the day. I’ve indicated that I needed to plan ahead for dining out by eating a smaller breakfast. I’ve acknowledged that one reason I may have lost weight on vacation was perhaps due to lighter breakfasts.

After I watched this particular breakfast-focused Drop 5 lbs episode, I felt defensive – like I needed to explain. In the episode, the Nutrition Director of Good Housekeeping, Samantha Cassetty, does everything she can to drive home the value of our most important meal of the day. She states that those who skip breakfast to save calories are doing themselves a disservice because they actually end up more hungry and eating more calories instead. {Insert defensive self here.} Here’s the thing:

I don’t disagree with her.

Let me explain. While I admit that I do eat lighter breakfasts to save calories for a meal out, I never skip breakfast! I know what you are thinking…

So what, Carrie? Isn’t that the same thing? If you don’t have enough calories, won’t you overeat throughout the day anyway?

Well, no. I think I need to give you a little bit of a background about me in order for you understand completely. You, see:

I LOVE BREAKFAST.

Eating breakfast used to be the absolute first thing I did when I got up in the morning. I’d think, “Oh my god! I’m starving! I need to get something in me!” As a kid, I remember sleeping over at my grandma and grandpa’s house. When I’d wake up at 6 or 7am, they’d feed me cereal. Then I would eat again with them at 10:30am when my grandma would make a big breakfast of fried eggs, toast and bacon or sausage. As a teenager, I would easily wolf down two bowls of cereal before school. Whenever at a restaurant for breakfast, I would eat everything (or nearly everything) on my plate. {And we all know the problem with portion sizes in restaurants.}

I am actually pretty lucky that my husband doesn’t like brunch. Otherwise, it’d be too easy to overindulge. I love everything about breakfast – scrambled eggs, fried eggs, omelets, sausage links, pastries, doughnuts, toast, orange juice, muffins, scones, bagels and cream cheese… You name it. So my problem? If I eat a big breakfast or brunch, that doesn’t keep me from eating any less during the day or for dinner that evening. No way.

So, maybe you know what I mean now by a “lighter” breakfast. 😉

Sure, I’ll sometimes have a Fiber One 90 Brownie for breakfast when I’m running out the door. {Only 90 calories.} And it’s not the best choice since it is still processed food. However, the low-calorie, high-fiber chocolatey goodness suits me well when I’m in a pinch. In addition, keep in mind that when I’m at work, I have healthy snacks to keep me get through the morning. {Snacks in a later post, of course. This one is already longer than I planned!} In this way, I break that potential of being too hungry and minimize overindulging later.

I nearly squealed with delight when I was thinking about writing this post and found that J. over at 52 Weeks, 52 Pounds acknowledged in his list of 52 Things I Did This Year, “That breakfasts over 400 calories made the day really tough to manage.” I could relate. In fact, I often try to keep it under 300 calories.

What I’ve find that’s most important for me is to have low-calorie, high-fiber breakfasts that satiate me or to supplement them with healthy snacks throughout the morning.

So to give you an idea, these are just a few of my preferred breakfast choices now:

Fiber One 90 Brownie

Banana with Peanut Butter

I use a tip from Mireille Guiliano {author of French Women Don’t Get Fat}: Eat your banana with a fork and knife to truly savor it. Otherwise, it’s easy to eat it mindlessly in a matter of three seconds. Seriously. It works. And I find that PB & banana is more filling to me than oatmeal. I don’t know how I didn’t learn to eat these two together until about six months ago.

PB Toast, Banana & Hard Boiled Egg

The photo above is of my first pre-race breakfast. I skipped the hard-boiled egg that day, but I do eat them for breakfast from time to time.

Peanut Butter Cheerios & Chocolate Cheerios with milk

I don’t often eat cereal. However, since I don’t like plain milk {I know, bad Wisconsin Girl}, I will eat it to use up the milk in my fridge. I had coupons for the new flavored cheerios, otherwise I get cereal with a higher fiber content. I used my coupons to buy boxes of Peanut Butter, Chocolate, and Cinnamon Burst Cheerios. {The Cinnamon Burst were my favorite!} Then I read somewhere how yummy it was to mix half PB Cheerios with half Chocolate Cheerios. A delightful way to use up milk!

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chips on a Bagel Thin

Okay, so they may look like raisins, but they are really chocolate chips. Oh how I love my chocolate! And if you haven’t had bagel thins, you need to give them a try. All the comfort of a bagel for only 110 calories. My favorite are the Everything Bagel Thins. Those are yummy along side eggs or to make any savory sandwich.

Speaking of eggs, I usually only make eggs on the weekends – scrambled with some veggies and cheese. When I was trying to find a use for Swiss Chard that came in my CSA box last year, I came across this Swiss Chard Egg Scramble. I’ve since come up with my own variations with spinach or other greens and it’s become a go-to of mine!

Or something new I tried last weekend was a soft-boiled egg over whole wheat toast. I had never had nor made one of these before, but since I love practically anything with a runny egg, I knew I had to make one when I was reading Beth’s Journey and saw pictures of them in this post. I’ll be making these again for sure!

And of course, you’ve seen that I occasionally eat fruit for breakfast as well, especially when I’m someplace new with local produce!

And coffee. Okay, I’m not one of those people that need coffee every single day. I usually can function just fine without it. It’s just that I’m not a morning person, so I need a little time to adjust to my day. But there are times when I am having one of those days where I “need my coffee”. No matter what, I take my coffee black and strong. This wasn’t always the case. But again, I took a tip from Mireille Guiliano: Slowly use less and less sugar in your coffee until you need very little (or none at all). It’s funny; I never liked coffee until I studied in France and tried espresso. I’d rather have no coffee at all than weak coffee.

And lastly, maybe you can help me out here. I’m really trying to like oatmeal. I know the nutritional benefits. I know it can be made many ways with so many add-in options. I’ve tried it many ways including with almond milk, with different fruits, with chocolate, with nuts, as overnight oats. But I’m still feeling meh abut it. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up on it. It doesn’t really fill me up either. Is that weird? Is it all in my head?

I’m always looking for healthy breakfast options so that I don’t start off my day off on the wrong foot. So I ask you:

Do you have any favorite oatmeal combos or suggestions?

What is your favorite breakfast?

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16 responses »

  1. I have grown to like oatmeal over the last year. I really like it with blueberries and strawberries. I remember my grandpa eating it in the winter and he would have it plain. I would think that was the grossest thing ever. I also like making smoothies in my Magic Bullet. I don’t make them with yogurt and that kind of stuff. I like mine pretty plain. Just a 1/2-3/4 cup of OJ, ice and what ever fruit I have around. It gets me to use up the fruit. This morning it was a banana, strawberry day. It’s sweet and I need sweet things occasionally. I haven’t had much for candy and such in over a month. LIke you, I love breakfast. Toast, bacon, sweetrolls, eggs, syrup, porkies, pancakes…ok, I have to stop. Or I will be thinking about Maplewood bacon and porkies all day. 🙂

    • Oh yum! I like your smoothie ideas. I don’t know why I always feel like have to use a recipe. I feel like it won’t turn out otherwise. Yum yum. I am thinking that the two of us should NOT do breakfast or brunch together… 😉 Although, another food truck would be nice!

  2. Hey Carrie! Have you tried steel-cut oats? I find I like that better because of the texture. Quick oats can get “mushy”…I get meh about that! Or, try under-cooking it. I sometimes sprinkle uncooked oatmeal on my other cereal (usually Special K, sometimes with Almonds), and sometimes add fruit. Love your post and tips!

    • Yes, Steel Cut are the ones I have. 😉 And Old-Fashioned. Okay. Now I’ve got to look. I’ve change it up a few times. I love the idea of adding it, though!!! Thank you!

  3. Oats with pb, agave, banana, and almond milk are my fave! I find that a pretty calorie dense breakfast though (can easily be 500 calories if I don’t watch!) so I tend to save it for days when I need a large breakfast like if I’m going for a hike or I won’t have lunch for a long time or something like that.

    • Great advice! I do fill up if I know I have a long run ahead of me. 😉 I keep forgetting to add pb to oatmeal. After my pics listed here, we know I love pb! 😉

  4. Overnight oatmeal

    1/3c steel cut oats
    1/3c almond milk
    1/3c plain yogurt
    1 banana
    1tbsp peanut butter
    1tbsp mini chocolate chips

    Combine 1st 3 ingredients and put in fridge overnight. Add last 3 before eating. Warm in microwaver for about 1 minute, just to take chill off and warm chips.

    My favorite breakfast! Very filling.

  5. I have to agree with everyone above – oats will forever be my favorite breakfast. I found that the sweet spot for me was 250-350 calories. It’s filling but allows me room in my day for good sized lunches and dinners. Now that it’s summer I’ve also been drinking a lot of smoothies with protein powder, which definitely helps keep me full until lunch.

  6. Vanilla greek yogurt with low-fat granola. Very filling and only around 240 calories you can go wrong! Have the vanilla greek yogurt with fruit (blueberries or strawberries)! Taste’s sooo good you forget it is healthy!

  7. my workaday breakfast is two pieces of whole wheat toast with a little butter, a low calorie yogurt (activia or dannon – something in the 80 calorie range) and a large coffee (skim no sweetener) around 7:30am. I’ll typically supplement with a 2nd large coffee around 10ish. About 400 calories all-in and filling.

    as to oatmeal – yep – i never was much into it as a kid. I still not super on it but I do like it more. The trick is to try different brands/flavors and also how milky – I prefer the minimum of milk.

    Greek yogurt is my weekend treat on sundays. And I allow myself one junk breakfast (tho still way better than it used to be) on Saturdays when the family goes to dunkins before food shopping. Lately I’ve been having their turkey egg white flat + a veggie egg white wrap (280 cal + 150 calories) + coffee. It’s not super filling I have to admin for those calories, but better than my old sausage,egg, cheese on croissant.

  8. Well I’ll admit that I personally cannot “eat” breakfast and it does set me up for failure if I do. I don’t know why but something happens to me mentally if I eat when I’m not really that hungry. Suddenly I become hungry and find myself eating more often all day. I do, however, like to get something in me to make sure I don’t get famished too soon and overeat. So I switched to shakes in the morning and that works for me.

  9. I completely understand where you’re coming from when you say that if you eat a big breakfast, it doesn’t alter your eating for the rest of the day.

    That being said, if I eat less than 250 calories, I’m ravenous in an hour. ~300-350 is pretty much a sweet spot for me. Oatmeal is a definite weekday go-to for me and eggs a weekend stalwart. I could go on for hours, really about how I love that meal so.

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