ALTON — Studies have found breakfast eaters set and maintain a stable metabolism, avoiding the tendency to overeat later in the day. Breakfast eaters may also tend to follow a healthy lifestyle, making healthier choices about diet and exercise.
So what is a healthy breakfast? Chef Tim Wollenberg, food service production manager at OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center, recommends a breakfast that contains protein, whole grain and fiber, along with at least a little fat to get your metabolism started for the day.
“For some people, skipping breakfast is routine. Some think it saves them calories,” Wollenberg said. “Studies show, however, that people who sit down and eat a healthy breakfast tend to weigh less than those who skip the first meal of the day.
“Protein blunts your hunger and whole grains have the staying power to keep you going through the morning. Too many refined carbohydrates or sugar will cause a rebound effect that will leave you hungry for a snack by mid-morning.”
Bacon and eggs
One traditional American breakfast, whether at home or on a restaurant menu, includes eggs, bacon or sausage and toast.
“Actually, that’s not a bad choice since it contains high-quality protein from the eggs, whole grains and fiber from the toast if you chose a whole grain option and a little bit of fat,” Wollenberg said. “However, bacon and sausage can be high in saturated fat and sodium. And most cured meats are high in nitrates, preservatives that if eaten regularly can increase the risk of cancer. There are nitrate-free versions of breakfast meats available on the market. And Canadian bacon is a lower-fat option.”
Oatmeal and cereal
Porridge, also known as hot cereal, has been a traditional breakfast for hundreds of years. Porridge can be made from any grain, most commonly barley in olden times and oatmeal today.
“Old-fashioned oats still provide 100 percent whole grain. And other whole grain cereals are readily available,” Wollenberg said. “The pre-packaged oatmeal, though, usually contains more sugar than you need in the morning or any other time.
“Oatmeal is particularly high in the type of fiber that lowers cholesterol, and it has other healthy nutrients such as potassium, folate and omega-3 fatty acids. Topped with some berries, banana or other fruit and milk, oatmeal makes an excellent breakfast, rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber.”
According to Wollenberg, there are many healthy ready-to-eat cereals, but you’re unlikely to find them through the “all natural” printed on the box. Read the label. What you’re looking for:
• has less than 5 grams of sugar per serving;
• has more than five grams of fiber; and
• lists whole grain — oats, wheat, barley, corn — at the very top of the ingredient list.
Orange juice, coffee, tea
A small glass of orange juice in the morning is a great way to start the day. But for the rest of the day, it’s better to focus on eating whole fruit, which has less calories and sugar and more fiber.
“One 2005 study concluded that coffee is the greatest source of antioxidants in the American diet. Another study found that drinking tea might boost metabolism and contribute to weight loss,” Wollenberg said. “A quick cup of coffee or tea is not good enough, though. Choose a healthy breakfast that appeals to you, and take a few minutes to sit down and eat it.”
For more information, call the OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Resource Center at (618) 465-2264.