How to Build a Balanced Breakfast
As a Registered Dietitian, I know a thing or two about building nutritionally balanced, satisfying meals. Today I’m sharing my top tips to build a balanced breakfast as well as some delicious breakfast ideas you can try at home!
Disclaimer: This post was developed in partnership with Florida Department of Citrus however all opinions are my own.
Eating a healthy, balanced breakfast in the morning is important for a variety of reasons. There’s a reason its called break-fast – you haven’t eaten since the night before and are quite literally breaking your fast. After the time you spend sleeping, your body needs energy coming in to fuel the day! Let’s look into some of the benefits of a balanced morning meal.
Benefits of a Balanced Breakfast:
I’m not saying you have to eat within a specific time period after waking, but having something nutritious to eat in the morning is a good idea. Eating breakfast gives you a higher chance of meeting important nutrition needs, and this contributes to how generally energetic you feel. Apart from providing energy (calories) to kick-start your day, a healthy breakfast provides essential nutrients that the body needs, such as fibre, vitamins and key minerals like calcium and iron. Read some of the research on that here.
Eating a nutritionally balanced breakfast also contributes to improved appetite control, meaning you can focus better on your daily tasks rather than seeking out snacks throughout the day. Not that there’s anything wrong with snacks, this just means less distraction and more nourishing choices.
Not only will a well-controlled appetite help you focus, breakfast eating has also been linked to enhanced memory, alertness and increased attention span. This is important for school-aged children and adolescents, but also us working adults, if we want to be more productive and efficient in our work.
What is a Healthy Breakfast?
A healthy breakfast is one that is well-balanced, satisfying, and provides a variety of important nutrients. A balanced meal includes a variety of foods that offer a range of nutrients. When consumed together, these nutrients provide:
- longer-lasting energy
- satiety (the absence of hunger, feeling of fullness)
- a greater chance of meeting daily nutrient requirements
Let’s think about our food in groupings. We have our protein foods, carbohydrate foods, vegetables & fruits, and sources of fat. To build a complete breakfast would mean including foods from most (if not all) of these groupings in your meal.
What Are Healthy Breakfast Foods?
You may be wondering “what things should I eat for breakfast?” or “what foods are healthy breakfast foods?”
Here’s the thing. Breakfast foods may vary country to country, culture to culture, or based on your own personal preferences and access to certain foods. Where I live, common breakfast foods include foods like toast, cereals or oatmeal, eggs, yogurt, nuts and nut butter, smoothies, fruit, and more.
That being said, any food can be a breakfast food if you want it to be. What’s most important is that you’re aiming to eat the right variety and balance of foods at breakfast. Keep reading to find out what exactly that means.
Tips for Building a Balanced Breakfast:
To eat the right variety of foods and build a balanced breakfast, include a source of:
Fibre-rich carbs: To provide long-lasting fuel until your next meal. Fibre not only fills you up, it also lowers cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugars and promotes regularity. Examples: Whole grain toast/bagel/wrap, oats/oatmeal, whole grain cereal, sweet potato.
Protein: To help sustain the feeling of fullness (i.e. satiety). Examples: Greek yogurt/Icelandic skyr, eggs, cheese, milk (dairy or soy), protein powder, hemp hearts.
Healthy fats: These will also help feelings of satiety. Examples: Nut butter, avocado, nuts, seeds, various oils (e.g., olive oil and coconut oil).
1 serving of fruit/vegetables: For a boost of fibre and various micronutrients! ½ cup berries (125mL), 1 medium piece of fruit (banana, apple, pear), ½ (125mL) cup grapes, ½ cup Florida Orange Juice (120mL).
100% orange juice is an excellent source of vitamin C, a good source of potassium, and contains folate and thiamin, as well as calcium and vitamin D (in fortified options). ½ cup (120mL) of 100% orange juice is comparable to a medium size orange, as both provide key nutrients
with no added sugar.
Healthy Balanced Breakfast Ideas:
Lucky for you, I have entire recipe category dedicated to easy healthy breakfast recipes. Here are some of my favourites:
Overnight oats: Oats (fibre-rich carbs), Greek yogurt (protein), chia seeds (healthy fat), milk/non-dairy milk, berries (fruit).
Whole grain muffins (fibre-rich carbs) paired with nut butter (healthy fat) and ½ cup (120mL) 100% orange juice (fruit).
Scrambled eggs (protein) with cheese (protein/fat) on a whole grain English muffin (fibre-rich carbs) and 1 small banana (fruit).
Green smoothie: 1/2 banana + 1/2 cup (120mL) 100% orange juice + 1 cup (125mL) spinach (fruit/vegetables/fibre), protein powder (protein), chia seeds (healthy fat) and water to blend.
What Not to Eat for Breakfast:
As I’ve already mentioned, there aren’t many foods that you can’t eat for breakfast. And what’s most important is eating the right balance of specific foods and nutrients.
However, there are some foods that I wouldn’t recommend you eat for breakfast on the regular. Not because said foods are “bad” or that they should be totally avoided (all foods fit!), rather, they may not be the best foods to keep you feeling full and energized first thing in the morning.
- Quick-digesting carbs on their own: Quick-digesting carb foods won’t keep you full for long on their own. They include things like white bread, certain fruits, or certain baked goods. My recommendation? Pair them with a good source of protein and fat to make them more filling.
- Coffee: Coffee is NOT a meal – even if it’s a latte. I need my morning coffee just as much as the next person, but it doesn’t count as my breakfast meal! You need to have food with your coffee, too.
- Green juice: There’s a difference between cold-pressed green juice and a green smoothie. Smoothies can be very balanced, offering fibre, protein, fat and more. Cold-pressed juices are mainly made up of water, sugars, and micronutrients. It’s fine to pair them with your meal, but they are not a meal on their own.
The Bottom Line:
Eating a nutritionally balanced breakfast offers a variety of mental and physical benefits. Increase the likelihood of meeting your essential nutrition needs by eating breakfast if you don’t already. Give one of these balanced breakfast options a try and see how you feel!
Don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know if you found this post helpful! Until next time!
Connect with Hannah Magee, RD!
If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, I’d love if you could let me know in the comments! Make sure to follow along on Instagram and TikTok so you don’t miss a thing from me. Til’ next time!
This post was developed in partnership with Florida Department of Citrus however all opinions are my own.