What did you have for breakfast this morning? So many of us believe that it’s the most important meal of the day, but don’t give much thought to what breakfast foods we’re eating.
That really has to stop.
Here’s one of the best nutrition tips I’ll ever give you: eating breakfast foods with poor nutritional value set you up for a failure of a day.
On the other hand, a healthy breakfast can fuel you for the day ahead by boosting your metabolism, filling you with energy, and kicking any harmful cravings to the curb. What’s more, all of this helps you stave off the onset of chronic disease.
Unfortunately, the endless rush of our modern lifestyle means that many of us either skip breakfast or stuff ourselves full of grab-n-go crap for the sake of convenience.
You may save a few minutes by eating breakfast in the car on your way to work, but you’re setting yourself up for all kinds of health problems.
Here’s a list of the breakfast foods you should be avoiding at all costs.
1. Commercial gluten-free breakfast foods
If breakfast cereals are no good partly because of the gluten they contain, then gluten-free breakfast foods should be a healthy alternative, right?
Well, it depends. If you’re talking about having an avocado with an egg and a banana (all these foods are naturally gluten-free), then yes, that’s a nutrient-packed breakfast. (And you should give yourself a pat on the back.)
Unfortunately, commercial gluten-free breakfast foods are often nothing but ‘frankenfoods’. Next time you see a box of gluten-free breakfast foods, check the ingredient list and you’ll see what I mean.
WHAT LURKS IN COMMERCIAL GLUTEN-FREE BREAKFAST FOODS?
LOTS of sugar – To make up for loss of taste, consistency, and texture, food manufacturers will often add more sugar to the product.
Artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols
More carbohydrates in the form of rice flour, potato starch, corn or other refined flours
Food colorings since gluten-free products usually don’t become as nice and golden as the gluten-containing versions
Added gums to help things stick together (gluten holds this function in baked products)
Additives to increase the product’s shelf-life since the various ingredients added don’t last long
2. Pancakes and waffles with syrup
Read more: Nutrition: 12 Worst Processed Foods You Must Avoid (and What to Eat Instead)
You’re probably starting to hate me right now but these breakfast foods are definitely bad news for your health.
WHAT LURKS IN PANCAKES, WAFFLES, AND SYRUP?
Refined flour – Besides having a nasty impact on your blood sugar levels, flour has also been found to increase the risks of leptin resistance.
Leptin is also known as the ‘satiety hormone’ – when your body becomes leptin resistant, you overeat.
Plus, most pancakes and waffles are made using wheat flour. In other words, these breakfast foods contain gluten and a nice dose of herbicides.
High fructose corn syrup – Food manufacturers will have you believe that high fructose corn syrup is natural. But this ingredient is actually a poison masquerading as a health food.
3. Muffins, doughnuts, croissants and other pastries
Okay, nobody (I hope) considers pastries as healthy breakfast foods. But muffins?
Sure, muffins are delicious. But most store-bought muffins are nothing but small (addictive) sugar bombs.
WHAT LURKS IN MUFFINS AND PASTRIES?
Refined flour and wheat
LOTS of sugar – even more if your muffin contains dried fruits, chocolate chips or frosting
Vegetable oils which are known to increase inflammation and contribute to weight gain
Sulfur dioxide – This food additive is often added to muffins and dried foods to preserve their freshness. Although it is generally regarded as safe, lab studies indicate that sulfur dioxide could damage the DNA of rodents. Yes, we are much bigger than rodents but I’d rather not take the risk if you ask me. Moreover, sulfur dioxide could trigger asthma attacks in susceptible individuals.
4. Scones and bagels
I rarely talk about calories with my patients (except if they have HPA-axis dysfunction a.k.a ‘adrenal fatigue’). But when it comes to scones and bagels, mentioning the number of calories they contain is an easy way to drive the following message home.
These breakfast foods may be the ultimate convenience food but they have quite a few downsides.
WHAT LURKS IN SCONES AND BAGELS?
Lots of calories – Did you that the average deli bagel can contain about 350 calories? And depending on their size, plain scones come with around 360 calories.
Refined flour – If those calories came from healthy fats and carbs, that wouldn’t be an issue. Unfortunately, about 50 to 60% of the calories from these popular breakfast foods come from refined flour which contains carcinogenic bleaching agents. Plus, as mentioned earlier, wheat flour can cause inflammation and cause blood sugar surges.
The remaining calories come mostly from industrial seed oils. These are the nasty fats that worsen inflammation, prevent insulin from doing its job properly and are dangerous for the heart.
5. Commercial granola bars
You’ve heard the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, right?
Well, I think that this applies really well to commercial granola bars. With their seeds, nuts and small size, these ‘healthy’ breakfast foods are nothing but candy.
WHAT LURKS IN COMMERCIAL GRANOLA BARS?
Lots of sugar and high fructose corn syrup but almost no fiber or protein. Can you guess what would happen if you ate a commercial granola bar for breakfast?
A sugar crash! You’ll be left feeling like you need a nap at 11am…
As if this wasn’t bad enough, in a study published last year, scientists reported that a single high carbohydrate meal is enough to adversely affect your immune system and overall metabolism. And by metabolism, I don’t simply mean how much energy your body burns. You see, your metabolism also refers to other essential reactions, such as digestion and hormonal balance, which occur in your body.
Industrial seed oils
Additives for preservation such as BHT
Artificial colors and flavors
6. French Toast
French toast consists of bread dipped in beaten egg and fried in butter. With some cheese on top. Contrary to popular belief, French toast is not unhealthy because it is fried but because of the bread.
WHAT LURKS IN FRENCH TOAST?
Wheat – As mentioned earlier, gluten (and the herbicides used to spray the wheat) can cause a host of health issues.
7. Heat n Eat Wraps
Often promoted as a healthier alternative to sandwiches, Heat n Eat wraps are kind of like pizzas with some extra veggies.
WHAT LURKS IN HEAT N EAT WRAPS?
Trans fats in the form of hydrogenated fats from added sauces
Flavor enhancers like monosodium glutamate
Lots of salt and additives
Processed meats which have been linked to some cancers
8. Fruit smoothies
How can fruits constitute an unhealthy breakfast food? Well, the fruits themselves aren’t the issue. The problem lies in the quantity of fruits blended to make fruit smoothies.
Let’s say you use four fruits. Most people would see their blood sugar rise considerably if they were to eat these four fruits in one sitting. Now, when you blend the fruits, you’re, in fact, opening the fruits’ cells and cutting the fiber into small pieces.
In other words, your body will have less work to do to absorb this sugar. And your blood sugar will rise even more making you more likely to eat more afterwards. The effect would be dramatic if you were to drink store-bought fruit smoothies.
WHAT LURKS IN COMMERCIAL FRUIT SMOOTHIES?
Fruit juices k.a flavored sugar water with loads of synthetic chemicals
9. Orange juice
Whenever people ask me what I think of OJ, they immediately get in Hulk mode and go ‘But it contains vitamin C!’
WHAT LURKS IN ORANGE JUICE?
Sugar – Sure, a glass of orange juice contains some vitamin C. But a 12-ounce serving also contains a whopping 36gof sugar. Is that a lot? Well, this equates 9 teaspoons of sugar in one drink. That’s almost the same as a 12-ounce can of Coke which contains 39g of sugar…
I know that oranges contain naturally occurring sugars. And these sugars are not unhealthy. What makes OJ unhealthy (even the 100% orange juice ones) is the number of fruits that are blended to yield a 12-ounce serving.
Yes, people have been drinking orange juice for ages. But their OJ was nothing like ours.
10. Low-fat milk and non-fat yogurt
‘You’re crazy!’ said one of my patients when I told her to switch to full-fat dairy products. She wasn’t ready yet to give up milk.
Contrary to popular belief, full-fat dairy products could:
Reduce the risks of diabetes
Decrease the likelihood of gaining excess weight
According to Mark Deboer, a pediatrician at the University of Virginia, ‘it appears that children who have a higher intake of whole milk or 2 percent milk gain less weight over time compared with kids who consume skim or nonfat dairy product’.