Before last May's 12 Healthy Habits breakfast challenge, Zoe Siswick's morning routine included waking up, walking her dog, and then heading off to work. Breakfast was something grabbed either before she left the house or on the way to work—usually an egg, bacon, and cheese sandwich from a deli across the street from her school. "I was having trouble finding balance. I was either famished because I didn't eat enough, or I was eating the breakfast sandwich and then feeling stuffed," she says. Zoe knew she could use some morning meal enlightenment, so she responded to a challenge tweet from Cooking Light's 12 Healthy Habits coach, Allison Fishman. With Fishman's input, Zoe turned things around: "I started to think about getting a protein, a whole grain, and a fruit or vegetable in my breakfast, so now that's something I think about when I'm preparing my other meals, too."
- Stock up to succeed. "I put a little bit more time on the front end now. Previously, grocery shopping was tough for me because I don't go to supermarkets on a regular basis. I do most of my grocery shopping at a green market. Allison suggested going to the local grocery store and buying some Greek yogurts and mini cottage cheeses in bulk. They stay fresh in the fridge for a while, so I only have to go every few weeks. Also, there's a Trader Joe's close to where I work, so I keep some whole-wheat bagels, cream cheese, and peanut butter at the office as another option."
- Pack ahead. "I literally get everything ready the night before, usually when I'm cleaning up from dinner and packing up leftovers for lunches. I will put my lunch bag out on the counter and load everything in—fruit, yogurt, hard-boiled egg. I set myself up so I can just grab food out of the fridge in the morning, stick it in my bag, and go."
- Rotate fruits and vegetables. "I'm really into seasonal eating. In the spring, it's strawberries; in the summer, peaches; and in winter, I eat a lot of clementines. Allison got me looking at veggies as another easy option—baby carrots, radishes, even avocado—and understanding that vegetables are OK for breakfast. Sometimes I'll pack a yogurt dip because that encourages me to eat the vegetables."
- Rethink the breakfast sandwich. "I get that there are going to be days when I want that cheesy bacon and egg sandwich because that's what I'm craving, but I'm experimenting with ways to make it healthier. Sometimes I'll do turkey bacon and avocado or turkey bacon and tomato on wheat toast. I substitute a healthier fat so I feel satisfied with having a breakfast sandwich, just without feeling stuffed after."