De-Sugaring the American Breakfast

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 Lisa Nelson, MD, 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 Lisa 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!

Portland Helmich is the creator, host, and producer of the Kripalu Perspectives podcast series. She has been investigating natural health and healing as a host, reporter, writer, and producer for more than 15 years.

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