Breakfast. How many times have we all heard that it’s the most important meal of the day? Countless, of course. But alas, sometimes the ever mysterious ‘they’ know what they’re talking about. It’s true. You gotta do breakfast.
Here’s why that morning meal is so important:
- Fuels your day. Obviously. Good food = energy, and I’ve yet to meet a person in this age group who doesn’t need energy on any given morning.
- Improved focus. Both your brain and your stomach have been fed, so you won’t be totally useless in that 9AM class.
- Avoiding cravings. If you start your day off right, you’re less likely to have cravings later in the day, and you’re much more likely to make healthier decisions.
- Weight maintenance. Let’s be blunt: those weird, out of place, pudgy stomachs? Most often the result of too much diet soda or a habit of skipping breakfast. Long story short (and without some details you should Google for more info), your body will go into survival mode, harboring all of the extra fat, sugar and carbs. It pretty much thinks there’s no food left on earth. It’s smart (and dumb?) like that; nothing gets past the pesky human body. It’s built for survival.
- And it’s delicious. Duh.
Luckily, I’m fairly hungry most mornings—as well as all other times of the day and night—so it doesn’t repulse me in the slightest to eat when I first wake up. In fact, breakfast used to be my favorite meal. I’ve since decided that I love food too much to even think about picking favorites, yet, still, I revel in the meal that breaks my eight or so hour fast.
At home, my breakfasts are sometimes mundane but always readily available. Every now and then I’ll get challah french toast from my mom, or my dad’s ridiculously good scrambled eggs, or perhaps even a brunch on the town! But I always get fed.
At college, it’s a bit more tricky. The amenities in my dorm room are minimal. Basically: automatic kettle, Brita, almonds, dark chocolate peanut butter (yes, you do need this), and tea. I have to be out the door before nine almost every morning during the week, which means no cafeteria for me. So it’s gotta be quick. And something that will keep me full for at least a couple of hours.
This means that the Cap’n Crunch in your room ain’t gonna cut it for breakfast (save that for dessert at lunch!). I’m all for having a slice of thick, cinnamon french toast, but no matter what it is, it has to be balanced. You want a good mix of protein, carbs and good fat. And if you’re gonna have fiber anywhere in your diet, you want it at breakfast. We’re thinking fuel.
So what should we eat? Whether we’re limited by our location, time, or our budget, there are plenty of quick, cheap and healthy options available almost anywhere.
Let’s just start with my holy grail.
Oatmeal. Seriously, the perfect food. It’s around 300 calories, 11g protein, 8g fiber (that’s 1/3 of what you need!), 5g fat. On top of all that, it’s low glycemic, which is how you want to start off any day. I like mine with a bit of brown sugar and some sort of fruit. Usually at school, they have blueberries and dried cranberries. When I’m not feeling so much sweetness, I’ll drizzle some honey on the oatmeal in lieu of the brown sugar. Oatmeal is incredibly versatile; you can make it into a pudding by adding Greek yogurt, swirl some Nutella in there for a flavored oatmeal; the options are endless. It’s a blank slate, and a pretty flawless breakfast.
Greek Yogurt. If you don’t have access to the Greek variety, it has to be plain. I know, I know. It tastes weird. You get used to it. I now love plain Greek and regular plain yogurt; I don’t even need to add anything to them anymore. What you get with a Greek yogurt is a high amount of protein and very little sugar. You can get zero fat varieties as well, and the calories stay around 100 per serving. Regular yogurt doesn’t have as much protein, but it’s still a fair choice. Once you foray into the land of flavored yogurts, your sugar content is gonna be anywhere between 19 and 28g, sometimes more. Most of this sugar isn’t from the actual fruit, either. Stick with plain or plain Greek, and stir in some honey or fruit to spice it up a bit.
Eggs. The egg is another food that would do you well on a desert island. It has protein, carbohydrates and fat in the perfect ratios. Don’t be too scared of the cholesterol—you need some of it—but do be aware. If you’re making a three-egg omelette, for example, perhaps only add one of the yolks. Egg whites are great. If you have the resources and a bit of extra time, the egg is a great way to go. It’s a good brain food, too!
I’ll spare you a picture of an egg.
Breakfast Cookie. I’ve recently discovered the wonders of a breakfast cookie. A real, unprocessed one. I won a contest a few weeks back, and part of my winnings was a gift certificate for a free cookie from Morning Sunshine Breakfast Cookie. I chose the gluten-free and vegan dark chocolate one, and I was a bit skeptical about how it would taste and if it would even fill me up! I was pleasantly surprised. It was delicious, and the perfect amount of food. It was pretty much just oats, peanut flour, flax, chocolate, cranberries and agave syrup. Around 270 calories with a healthy portion of fat, carbs, and protein. 6g of fiber, too!
Alright. I think I’ve overstayed my welcome. A few other ideas are: multigrain toast with some sort of nut butter, cottage cheese, or a meal replacement shake (but check the label!). You could also add some sort of lean meat if you’re into that sort of thing, and always try to throw in some fruits and veggies if possible! And if you’re super pressed for time, grab a handful of nuts and eat them on the way to class!
Breakfast: eat it. And make it balanced! Most of us aren’t getting all the nutrients we need anyway, so why deprive ourselves of an entire meal that can be full of them? Happy breakfasting!
by Sarah Zickel