De-Sugaring the American Breakfast

Posted on June 8th, 2013 by in Healthy Living, Nutrition

I’m a morning person. Always have been. Some people can’t eat anything first thing in the morning, but not me. My stomach’s more than ready for nourishment shortly after awakening, and that’s probably a good thing.  They always say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? It gets the metabolism going and establishes eating patterns for the rest of the day. When I eat a healthy breakfast, I’m more inclined to be mindful of what I eat as the day progresses. I’m less apt to “undo” the good that I’ve done by filling up on candy, cookies, and other sugary treats (my weakness) later on.

The irony, according to Dr. Lisa Nelson, a practicing family physician and director of medical education at Kripalu, is that while I might think I’m eating a healthy breakfast, I may very well be consuming a full day’s worth of sugar (or more) before the clock strikes 9:00 am.

That may not seem so alarming to some, but Nelson lists some of the health problems and diseases that high sugar consumption can lead to and insists that the American breakfast is the biggest culprit. She says that some of our most common American breakfast choices—ones that we think are perfectly healthy—are often loaded with sugar, increasing our calorie consumption and spiking our blood sugar while we walk around thinking we’re bonafide health nuts.

Fortunately, she also offers some genuinely healthy alternatives that are quick, cost-effective, and tasty, and encourages us to consider atypical breakfast choices. Who says you can’t have fish or vegetables or even a salad for breakfast? Will your stomach revolt if you trade that sugary scone or sweetened cereal for some lentil soup? Will the breakfast fairy punish you with a tummy ache if you opt for hummus and carrot sticks over muffins and jam?

I don’t mind fish for breakfast or even broccoli, for that matter, but I do have a sweet tooth and am probably not going to choose lunch- and dinner-like options for breakfast all week long. The trick is making sure that the sweet options I do choose aren’t sugar-laden.  It requires a little extra thinking on my part when shopping at the supermarket (read those labels!), but it’s well worth it if the result is a healthier body!

Do you eat a healthy breakfast? Does it keep you energized through the morning? Tell us what you like to eat!


About Portland Helmich

Portland is the creator, host, and producer of the Kripalu Perspectives podcast series. She's also is the creator, host, and executive producer of What’s the Alternative?, a series of 52 half-hour talk shows about natural and alternative forms of healing the body-mind that aired on Veria Living TV, a natural health channel on DISH, FiOS, and Frontier. For more than 15 years, Portland’s been investigating natural health and healing as a host, reporter, writer, and producer. She's been an alternative medicine correspondent for Oxygen, a health reporter for The American Consumer on PBS, and was the creator, host, and executive producer of Journeys Into Healing on Wisdom Television. She produced for HealthWeek and Healing Quest on PBS, has done natural-health reporting for WGBH-TV, and was a medical producer for WCVB-TV (Boston’s ABC News affiliate). She’s also covered the subject as a freelance writer for Body + Soul, Alternative Medicine, and Spa magazines. Portland currently lives in Boston, where she produces documentaries and also works as an actor and voice-over talent.

One Response to “De-Sugaring the American Breakfast”

  1. Team Sorbeo June 20, 2013 10:39 am #

    Managing a healthy lifestyle is a function of three things: 1) what you know, 2) what you eat, and 3) what you do. Information is the first step, but it amazes me how many people eat foods designed to stay “fresh” on store shelves for months (if not years)
    and then wonder why their bodies have a hard time digesting these same foods.

    Some people are blessed with a cast iron stomach, but not everyone is so lucky. Moreover, awareness about digestive health is a relatively recent trend. The upshot is that people are only now coming to realize the years of damage they’ve inflicted on their bodies.

    There are millions of people who suffer from ailments like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease or food issues like gluten sensitivity who have
    taken great steps to change their eating behaviors. There are doubtless countless more people who have different ailments (or don’t even know what ailments they have).

    Lifestyle modification is an absolute necessary step, and eating better (and getting more active) are the first parts of the equation, but sometimes these steps alone just aren’t enough.

    In cases like that, some people turn to digestive enzymes to help get their bodies back on track.

    Enzymes fall into a few categories, including food enzymes (found in raw food), metabolic enzymes (mostly found in the pancreas) and digestive enzymes (mostly found in the gut). Enzymes are technically proteins, and they help the body carry out the chemical reactions necessary to break down and ultimately digest food.

    Some healthcare professionals believe that sometimes people have damaged metabolic functions and / or that their bodies need help. In cases like these, digestive enzymes can be of real benefit.

    Team Sorbeo

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