What a Nutritionist Eats for Breakfast and Why
A reader requested a post about what I eat (thank you - I love receiving topic suggestions!) and I thought I'd start with breakfast.
Whenever I eat, I have a strategy. My goals are to:
Eat a yummy meal I'll enjoy.
Give my body a broad spectrum of nutrients (good carbs and fat, lean protein and plenty of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and water).
Eat enough to feel fueled and energized until my next meal.
Create meals that allow me to maintain my current weight, which is where I want to stay.
To accomplish all of the above, I have a breakfast "formula." Much like my perfect salad post from last week, it involves 5 steps:
First I think about what type of textures and flavors I'm craving. I ask myself, "Do I want cold and creamy, hot and comforting, or crisp and crunchy?" and "What flavors am I in the mood for?" Over the years I have found that these questions are crucial, because if I really want something warm and I eat cold cereal, I never quite feel satisfied. That can lead to lingering food thoughts, even if I'm full and energized.
Once I've zeroed on the right flavors and textures, I build my meal, starting with the whole grain. I rarely crave cold cereal, so my usual staples are:
1 slice whole grain bread
½ cup cooked oatmeal or other hot whole grain cereal
2 whole corn tortillas (see yesterday's post for my favorite brand)
Whole grains fuel my morning and keep my blood sugar stable straight through lunch, plus they're chock full of fiber, vitamins and antioxidants.
Next I pick my protein. It's usually 1 cup of organic soy or hemp milk, but sometimes it's ½ cup beans or organic extra firm tofu (1/5 of a package). Protein keeps me fuller longer, helps me feel mentally sharp all morning, and supplies important minerals like calcium, potassium and iron.
My next consideration is fat. I choose what I'm craving or what will compliment my craving. For example, if I have a hankering for beans, I'll choose avocado (1/5 of a ripe Hass) and make black beans breakfast tacos, but sometimes my answer to STEP 1 is all natural almond, cashew or peanut butter (I also have pecan, walnut, macadamia nut, and coconut butters in my fridge!). When that's the case, I use 2 Tbsp and choose a whole grain and protein that fit, such as almond butter on whole grain toast along with a cup of organic soy milk. Fat is not only incredibly satisfying - it also significantly boosts antioxidant absorption, keeps me fueled and helps my skin and hair stay healthy.
Finally I choose a fruit. I aim for 1 cup, about the size of a baseball, and as often as possible I eat locally grown, in-season picks. Sometimes fruit is what I'm craving most, especially in the summer when the bounty is plentiful at my local Farmer's Market.
Yesterday I had strawberries on my mind, so I swirled 2 Tbsp walnut butter into ½ cup cooked oatmeal, topped it with 1 cup sliced berries and poured a cup of organic soy milk. It totally hit the spot, I felt amazing all morning, wasn't hungry again until lunch and calorie-wise, it was right where I need to be to support my ideal weight (this breakfast clocked in at 425 calories, within the 350 to 500 range I aim for each morning).
As a nutritionist, I can't look at food without thinking about how it will affect my health. But I'm also a real person who loves food and wants to enjoy every meal without feeling deprived. I believe the strategy above helps me accomplish both and it's worked for a lot of my clients too.
Do you have a breakfast strategy? What are your thoughts on my approach? Please share!