I spoke with a wellness coordinator the other day who works with many elementary schools on nutrition. She had just left a meeting where her fight against multi-grain Pop-Tarts being considered a healthy breakfast choice was fleeting. Federal regulations allowed this option to be on the nutritional menu, and despite her push to offer a healthier choice, she was loosing the battle.
Wellness experts such as this coordinator will continue to fight for healthy eating inside of the schools, but it got me thinking – maybe we can continue the fight in the workplace. As employers and employees, we can take a stance for what constitutes a healthy, nutritional food choice (and what is a not-so-great food choice.) And for that matter, let’s start with the first meal of the day – breakfast.
Healthy Breakfast Choices for Improved Wellness
Breakfast is difficult for many of us. We’re working adults – many of us moms & dads – who are doing good if we actually make it out the door … with everyone dressed and fed … on time. So it’s easy to understand why food companies have tried to make life easier for us by offering easy, on-the-go food options for breakfast. Pop-Tarts, microwaved breakfast sandwiches from the freezer department, boxed donuts – all of this makes getting breakfast easy. However, it’s also making our lifestyles and “kickstart” to the day very unhealthy.
Avoid Processed Breakfast Choices
As simple as it is to grab two pre-packaged breakfast bars (one for you and one for your kiddo in the backseat) on the way out the door, this lifestyle is not helping us become healthier Americans. Pre-packaged foods carry many empty calories. They don’t contain the whole grains that our bodies need for good nutrition and digestion. Protein is nearly absent from many of the “easy” breakfast items. Salt contents tend to run extremely high. And last – most of the “easy” breakfast options contain loads of sugar and/or fat. Just what you and your kid’s teachers need right in the morning.
Healthier Breakfast Choices
Now we’re realistic here and not going to tell you to wake up an hour earlier so you can make homemade, whole-grain biscuits and eggs each morning. However there are some ways to improve your breakfasts that do get you the nutrition you need in the morning AND to work on time. Instead of the sugary pastry, try these options instead:
- Make-ahead breakfast egg cups. Bake them in the oven on the weekend, refrigerate, reheat individually before you leave the house each morning. Contains your protein and veggies.
- Yogurt. This is a great breakfast item (especially the lower-sugar varieties). It has a lot of protein (helps you stay full.) Throw in some fresh berries for a great treat.
- Whole wheat toast or English muffins with peanut butter spread. Again – gets in your whole grains and also some protein.
- Oatmeal. No-brainer but worth mentioning. Oatmeal’s a great way to start the day. You could even look into this baked oatmeal muffins recipe that would make breakfast easy throughout the week.
These options might take a few more minutes of your time, but in the end you’ll see payoffs. Your diet will be healthier and your home (and workplace) will be more well. It’s a great start for improving your “start” of each day.
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