I have a love/hate relationship with breakfast. I love many of the foods and flavors that often find their way into this meal. I hate the fact that it takes place during one of the most hectic times in my day. I’d love to savor something delicious with a hot cup of coffee in a sunlit kitchen, but my life doesn’t always line up that way. I’m not alone. Many people, especially women, skip breakfast altogether citing the fact that they are too busy to eat. Others grab a granola bar or a yogurt on their way out the door and eat it in the car or at their desk. The next time you’re out driving during breakfast hour (and really, who ISN’T out driving during breakfast hour between commuting and carpooling and gym runs) check out how many of your fellow motorists are eating or drinking in their car. It’s become a lifestyle.
While there are tremendous benefits to organizing your morning in a way that enables you to sit down in a chair and eat breakfast without any other distractions, the truth is that the practice is out of reach for many people. And the MOST important thing about breakfast is just to EAT it. After 8 or 10 or 12 hours without food, your body is begging you to break the fast you’ve been enduring and give it some nourishment. I usually coach my clients to have an “emergency breakfast” option always on hand to take with them on mornings when breakfast just didn’t happen. Something like a Kashi bar, a cheese stick, and an apple. Portable, relatively nonperishable, not too messy.
But there are days when even that solution falls by the wayside. And on those days, the only way breakfast is going to happen is by relying on restaurant food. While restaurant fare can often be laden with unwanted fat an calories, that doesn’t have to be the case.
Lucky for us, Health magazine recently worked with a number of nutrition experts to study the breakfast options at various chain restaurants. They compiled a list of the healthiest fast-food breakfasts. The options that made the list had to be:
low in saturated fat
good mix of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats
>3 g fiber
<700 mg sodium
Here are Health Magazine’s the Top 10, with a little commentary from me:
1. Cosi’s Spinach Florentine Breakfast Wrap
2. Starbucks: Protein Artisan Snack Plate (CMS: I’m also a fan of their oatmeal or Turkey Bacon & Egg White on English Muffin)
3. Jamba Juice Berry Topper Ideal Meal (CMS: Oh how I wish we had Jamba Juice in Cincinnati!)
4. Au Bon Pain Oatmeal
5. Denny’s Scrambled Egg Whites, Chicken Sausage & Fruit
6. McDonald’s Oatmeal (ex brown sugar) (CMS: I’m not opposed to a classic Egg McMuffin as an option here either)
7. IHOP’s Simple & Fit Veggie Omelet (CMS: Order this with a side of fruit)
8. Subway’s Western Egg White & Cheese Muffin Melt (CMS At 160 calories, this needs more substance. Consider ordering two…or better yet, adding a piece of fruit or two to make a complete meal)
9. Dunkin Donuts Egg White Turkey Sausage Wake Up Wrap (CMS: At only 150 calories, same comments as above)
10. Panera’s Breakfast Power Sandwich (CMS: Order without the ham to keep the sodium level down; it’s the only one on the list with >700 mg sodium)
So, the next time you find yourself out and about without having eaten breakfast, you can confidently fix that situation without totally derailing your healthful eating goals. And perhaps if you’re lucky, a little sunlight will find its way to the spot where you’ve chosen to break your fast. Bon appetit!