Spot the Healthy Breakfast Imposters

Spot the Healthy Breakfast Imposters

Some of the least nutritious breakfast foods are notorious for seeming like they are good for you. Can you identify the foods highest in calories, sodium, sugar, and fat?

breakfast bar

 

Illustration: oatmeal

 

Oatmeal with Fruit and Nuts

 

HEALTHY

Why:

  • Extra fiber keeps you fuller for longer throughout the day  
  • Packed with calcium, magnesium, iron, antioxidants, and B vitamins    
  • Customizable for easy protein toppings, including Greek yogurt, nuts, seeds, or fresh fruits
Store-Bought Fruit smoothie

 

Store-Bought Fruit Smoothie

 

NOT HEALTHY

Why:

  • Loaded with sugars
  • Little protein increases hunger

A better idea:

Make your own fruit smoothie by combining 1 cup spinach, 1 scoop protein powder, 1/4 cup coconut milk, 1/2 cup pineapple, 1/2 banana, and a dash of cinnamon and ginger in a blender.

Illustration: yogurt

 

Fruit-Flavored Yogurt

 

NOT HEALTHY

Why:

  • Most commercial yogurts are loaded with sugars, thickeners, gums, and artificial sweeteners
  • The absence of fat can slow down your glycemic response to sugar, making fat-free versions of yogurt essentially a candy bar with a little bit of protein

A better idea:

Opt for full-fat, plain Greek yogurt:

  • Top with fresh fruit (not the kind with fruit at the bottom) for additional fiber
  • Nuts or seeds can add additional flavor and crunch
Illustration: breakfast bar

 

Breakfast Bar

 

HEALTHY
  (SOMETIMES)

Why:

  • Extra protein keeps you fuller for longer
  • A convenient (and typically low-cost) option

Why it can be a poor choice:

Just because a package says “all-natural,” “organic,” or “high-protein” doesn’t mean it’s good for you. They’re often packed with sugar.

A better idea:

Try a bar high in fiber (five grams or more) and protein (four grams or more) and low in sugar (less than six grams). KIND and RX brands have healthy varieties, but always check the label to be sure.

Illustration: cereal

 

Cereal or Granola

 

HEALTHY
(SOMETIMES)

Why:

  • Cerealand granola with lots of fiber are often loaded with sugar — as much as 12 grams, or almost as much as a scoop of ice cream!
  • A lack of fiber is guaranteed to make you crash by lunchtime

A better idea:

Check cereal labels carefully before you select a brand. Look for cereal or granola that: 

  • Is high in fiber (at least five grams)
  • Is low in sugar (less than six grams)
  • Has some protein (at least four grams)
Illustration: bagel

 

Bagel

 

NOT HEALTHY

Why:

  • White unprocessed flour (even if it’s made with “wheat” bread) can spike blood sugar 
  • Lacks enough protein to keep you feeling full

A better idea:

Reach for whole-grain toast with fiber to keep you full.

Instead of opting for cream cheese or butter with a bagel, try whipping up this simple breakfast sandwich at home that takes less than five minutes to make. You’ll need two small frying pans and a toaster.