Healthy Yet Simple Breakfast Options to Jumpstart Your Day

Brown EggsWe’ve heard it time and time again -breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But knowing it and living it are two totally different things. Before we can start eating the way we know we should, we first have to get real with ourselves. We have identify those pesky excuses that stop us in our tracks and determine how to overcome them each and every single day. Its not always easy,  but progress never is.

When it comes to breakfast, many obstacles come to mind. We may not wake up early enough to squeeze breakfast in between waking and work; we may not have the right assemblage of ingredients on hand or, if we do, know how they go together; or perhaps hunger doesn’t strike before the sun rises. Whatever the reason, odds are you can work around it. You simply have to make the decision to do so over and over again.

From my experience, keeping meals in the morning simple is a necessity when you’re first learning to overcome these sorts of obstacles. Why? Because the simpler the meal is, the less likely you are to talk your way out of it. Plus, simple meals tend to make the most sense when a hectic schedule stands in the way between you and good health. Planning simple meals can also ensure that you have the right ingredients on hand and, if your using fresh ingredients, even more likely to prepare and eat them despite a lack of hunger. Now if you’re truly not hungry in the morning, its okay to wait a bit before noshing. Consider packing your breakfast to go and eat it after you arrive at work. This can still be a great way to maximize all the opportunities you have to incorporate enough nutrients into your day.

So what does a simple breakfast look like?

A simple breakfast should consist of foods that are going to provide you with some protein, fiber, and even a little bit of healthy fat. These nutrients are going to help you feel satisfied longer so you can make it to your next meal or snack without getting to a point of desperate hunger.

A few of my favorites include:

Old Fashioned Oats. Oatmeal is a great starting point for any early meal. Its got your fiber needs covered. For a protein boost, consider adding your favorite nut butter to the mix or, for added texture, a handful of almonds, pistachios, or walnuts. These nut varieties will also provide you with some healthy fats and fiber too, resulting in a very filling dish. Add in some of your favorite fresh fruits and maybe a dash of cinnamon or a drizzle of honey to take the flavor up a notch and you’ve got one fantastic breakfast waiting for you!

Not an oatmeal fan? You can also dress up your cold cereal with many of these same ingredients to improve its overall health profile. When searching for your best cold cereal option, consider the following:

  • Make sure the first ingredient listed on the label is a whole grain and actually has the word “whole” in the title. “Whole grain” “Whole wheat flour” “Whole oats” – you get the idea. 
  • Calories should be at 200 or less per serving. Why? Because we often fail to pour just a serving into a bowl and those servings can add up quickly. Plus, you want to make sure you leave a little room for all the tasty stuff – like all that fresh fruit you’ll be adding in!
  • There are at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Again, this will help with the fullness factor. Fiber also has a lot of additional health benefits associated with and most people don’t get enough.
  • There isn’t too much sugar in each bite – look for 10 grams or less per serving.

Another great, more-savory breakfast starter worth considering are eggs! This protein-rich food option is super quick and easy to whip up and has proven to be very versatile. Of course, eggs are always the center of debate when it comes to weight loss, but if you are keeping portions in check, eggs can actually be a very filling, nutritious option. In a recent study, women who were given two eggs, toast and jelly for breakfast versus a bagel with cream cheese and yogurt reported feeling fuller at breakfast and throughout the day. This resulted in eating less not only at lunch, but the rest of the day as well. So even though whole eggs do contain cholesterol and saturated fat, they can be a part of well balanced diet. And if you are really worried that you’re going to go overboard on fat and cholesterol, no worries! Simply swap out one or two of your eggs with egg whites. If you’re using a recipe, two egg whites will substitute well for one whole egg. You’ll also get the best of both worlds – enhanced flavor from the yolk and a heavy dose of protein from all the egg whites.

Eggs can be whipped up omelette style, scrambled, poached, hard-boiled or even cooked inside an avocado! Add in some fiber (think veggies and beans!)  and maybe a little extra healthy fat (you all checked out that inside an avocado link above, right?), and you’ll be good to go.  And if you’re looking to keep your egg dish super quick and easy, be sure to keep any leftover veggies you have within easy reach. Not only will this save you time, but it will help you minimize food waste and make nutritious eating more affordable because your not using your veggies for just one dish anymore.

Pair up your egg and veggie combo with a side of whole grain toast or wrap it up in a whole wheat tortilla and you’ll be ready to head out the door will a satisfied tummy and appetite.

What’s your favorite quick and easy breakfast option? 

If You Want to Eat Less, Eat Angry?

Smiling Quiche
If You Want to Eat Less, Eat Angry?

Happy eating is something we take pretty seriously here at Around the Plate. After all, our motto is “live healthy, eat happy” and we truly believe that people can do both by learning to love nourishing, nutrient-rich foods.

So when a study came out saying that happy eating increases your odds of overeating, we started to get a little panicky! Both for all the readers who we have been encouraging for years to eat happily along and for ourselves because lets face it, if eating happy means you overindulge, the only way to eat the right amount would require us to eat unhappily right? And that to me sounds dreadful.

Before you all freak out with me, lets be clear about one thing. The results of this study have nothing to do with how much you enjoy your food at meal times.  Instead, “happy eating” in this study simply means that you eat when you are feeling happy – not that you are happily enjoying and savoring your food when its time to eat it. These two acts sound really similar, but they are actually quite different.

The first could be classified as a form of emotional eating. Although we often tie emotional eating to negative feelings, it does make sense that when we are in a good mood, our food decisions may sway just as easily as they would  when negative feelings or emotions strike. To test this theory, researchers showed an array of movie clips to study participants to see just how feelings may impact eating decisions. Sure enough, those who watched the positive movie clip were more likely to overindulge as they ate. Interestingly enough, those who saw the negative film clip did not overindulge  afterwards. Of course, they did watch the ending of the Green Mile and I have to say I probably wouldn’t have much of an appetite either after seeing someone get electrocuted.

Luckily, emotional eating doesn’t have to get the best of you and I think that’s the main take away here. Emotional eating isn’t based on hunger. Its based on events and situations that occur in your every day life. Sometimes it can even cause you to crave or want specific foods right away in response to whatever emotion, positive or negative, you are experiencing. See how this isn’t the same as sitting down and enjoying the foods you eat?

Sitting down and thoroughly enjoying the foods you eat doesn’t tend to happen on a whim or because of a triggering emotional event. Instead, allowing yourself to savor each bite you take requires intentional thought and planning. Being present at each meal can also help you better listen to your body’s cues and signals.  Believe it or not, your body knows a lot more about what you need then you might think. We just get really good at ignoring what its saying and let things like our emotions drown out those important cues and signals.

So eat happy, not emotionally, but by deliberately planning to enjoy those nutrient-rich foods you serve yourself on a regular basis.

How do you define “happy eating?”

Maintaining Motivation During Weight Loss

Guy and Girl Working OutWhether its 5, 10, or 20 plus pounds, losing weight isn’t always an easy process. It can be difficult to stay motivated and tempting to give in to old habits. And the longer you go, the more challenging it can be. So how do you stay on track and keep moving forward? It all comes down to your environment. To successfully achieve and maintain a healthy weight, you have to surround yourself with supportive friends, foods, and ideas.

Write your thoughts and ideas down. Keeping a journal can help you stay accountable to yourself. You can write down what you eat, record events from the day, or share how you feel.  This can help you be more intentional about what you do each day and allow you to celebrate the small victories you achieve throughout your weight loss journey. Celebrating even the smallest change can make you feel good about the next and the one after that. Stay positive and look for the perks your weight loss journey brings.

Rely on your friends.  Surrounding yourself with people who support you in your weight loss plan is important. This person should be someone who can keep you accountable and inspire you to keep going. Even better is the friend who is willing to be apart of the journey too. Together, you can schedule workout dates and attend healthy eating workshops. Or perhaps plan outings to your local farmers market or health food store. By making weight loss fun and social, its less likely you will give up.

Get quote-savvy. Put up inspirational or meaningful quotes around your house. Place them on the mirror,  on your desk, or maybe next to your bed. Constantly seeing “You are Beautiful” or “Don’t Give Up!” are great reminders that you and the journey you are on are worth the effort.

Try something different.  Experimenting with healthy recipes is another great way to kick start your motivation. You can even find healthified dessert recipes, like the one for these cookies over on Jessness Required, that will still satisfy your sweet tooth without sabotaging your weight loss plans. The Internet has an almost unlimited supply of healthy meal ideas. Cookbooks found at your local library or bookstore are also great places to look. In fact, food inspiration can be found in even the most unlikely of places if you keep your mind open. And by trying new recipes and meal ideas, you’ll stop feeling deprived and instead feel empowered about the food decisions you are making. 

So get creative and surround yourself with the people, food, and ideas you need to stay motivated on your journey. You might just be amazed at how great you feel when you turn deprivation into empowerment as you work towards achieving a healthy weight.

Jessness Required is a blog written and maintained by Jess Smith. Jess  is one of Around the Plate’s Healthy Eating Champions and is a member of thePlate Community. As a Healthy Eating Champion, Jess shares her creative recipes and various workout routines with readers. Find other Healthy Eating Champions, Nutrition Experts, and Recipe Guru’s on our community blog network.

Stop the Calorie Counting Madness: Bringing Sanity Back to Eating

Food ScaleThere is no doubt that counting calories is a beneficial and viable approach to weight loss. The process keeps you accountable for your choices, limits mindless grazing, and ensures calorie caps are met. However, it is all too easy to let calorie counting turn obsessive. The method inherently brings out the perfectionist side in all of us and can suck the fun out of food. If you’re focusing more on adding numbers and determining preparation methods at a restaurant instead of bonding with friends, you know that calorie counting is taking over your life.

So what is a better method to keeping your diet in line? You’re in luck. There are lots of options that ensure a healthy diet without the insanity calorie counting can cause.

Count Color, Not Calories. Go back to  school art class and recall ROY.G.BIV. Now make sure each day includes every color this acronym reminds you of. To be clear, we’re talking natural color, not neon orange dyed chips. Indulge in red raspberries, deep green chard, purple potatoes, white cauliflower, and orange sweet potatoes. Eating a range of colors effortlessly ensures you are eating a range of nutrients and antioxidants. Plus, eating all these colorful plant foods pumps up your fiber intake. Read: you fill up, before you fill out!

Pause. One of the best keep secrets to weight loss starts before you even put anything in your mouth. Before you mindlessly wolf down that extra cookie or that decadent bit of cake that you couldn’t possibly turn down, stop. Take a breath. Count to 10. Walk around the block. Assess whether or not you are truly hungry. Are you just looking for something chewy? Salty? Will the food actually satisfy whatever is making you eat? Simply pressing the pause button reconnects you to why you want to eat.

Make Your Food Work for You. Ask what your food can do for you. What “value” does a food add to your diet? Will your food choices satisfy? Nourish? Provide lasting energy? Turns out that the foods that add the greatest value to your diet, are the healthiest choices. Whole grains provide lasting energy. Fruits and vegetables add antioxidants and fiber. Lean protein improves muscle health. And all these choices are more satisfying and nourishing than anything in a package. Think about how unsatisfying those 100 Calorie snack packs are. The portions are minuscule and they lack any real nutrition. These do not add value to your diet.  Strive for snacks and meals that work hard for your body, not drain it!

For more great tips, head over the Corinne Dobbas’ s blog, Eat. Love. Live. Thrive, to see her take on How to Watch Weight Without Counting Calories.

Eat. Love. Live. Thrive.  is a blog written and maintained by Corinne Dobbas, MS, RD. Corinne  is one of Around the Plate’s Nutrition Experts and a member of thePlate Community. As a Nutrition Expert, Corinne makes eating healthy simple. Find other healthy eating champions, nutrition experts, and recipe gurus on our community blog network.

 

Love Your Food Day #7: Step Off the Scale!

It’s day 7 of the Love Your Food Series! Can you believe it? Today we have a very special post from Giselle Schroer of My Healthy Happy Home. As a kick-butt stay at home mom, Giselle keeps it real and inspiring every single day. We hope you enjoy her scale tale and are encouraged to follow her lead as she steps away from the number so many of us have come to dread. Be sure to also read days 1-6 of our Love Your Food series too!
by Giselle Schroer from My Healthy Happy Home
Weight Scale
For years I would judge how my day was going to go, based on the number that showed up on my scale that morning. If it was higher than normal, I would avoid eating certain foods, workout harder, and at times, skip meals. If it was lower than normal, I would splurge on a treat, maybe take a day off working out and eat a little more. I didn’t pay as much attention to the way I was feeling or the way my clothes were feeling; instead, I just focused on that number.
Then I had an awakening. I realized that I’m a woman that a woman’s body is a crazy, hormonal, miraculous thing. I realized that as I gained muscle, my weight went up. However, at the same time, I lost inches. I realized that my weight fluctuates based on where I’m at in my monthly cycle. When I’m ovulating, I retain water and weigh a good 3-4 pounds more. When I’m menstruating, I tend to weigh 2-3 pounds heavier. If my muscles are sore, the number goes up. If I drank alcohol or ate high sodium foods the night before, the number goes up. Discovering these things about my body helped me to understand why that “important” number fluctuates on the scale so much. While realizing these things has helped me to step off the scale, I only wish I would have figured them out sooner. I’m 32 which means I’ve spent way too many years focusing on a number rather than on what really matters. How I feel.
Now that I’ve finally broken up with my scale, I pay more attention to the way my clothes fit rather than worrying about some number. I focus more on the way my body feels and the changes I see in the mirror. Guess what? I feel better! I don’t stress anymore about what number is going to pop up every morning when I step on the scale. I eat pretty much the same way everyday (healthy) rather than judging my meals based on my daily weight. I live life instead of dwelling on a number because that’s the way it should be.
So come on ladies, get off the scale! Focus on what really matters, how you feel. Everyone’s body is different, but all women have hormones that will more than likely effect that number on the scale. So to base so much of our lives around a number, is really quite silly when you think about it.
Day 7 Homework: Instead of measuring your success by the number on the scale today, grab a piece of paper and write down at least one reason to celebrate your hard work today! Maybe its feeling your best or simply eating a meal you know your dietitian would be proud of. Share your praise-worthy moment with us on Facebook or Twitter!