“If I feel good, I buy the healthy breakfast; if I feel bad, I get the one that makes me sluggish.” - Samantha Acari: Age 37, Senior Integrated Marketing Manager, Cooking Light, Maplewood, N.J.
Samantha is an example of a woman with too many tasks, too little time, and a schedule that skips homemade breakfast. She doesn’t like breakfast foods but is trying to change her ways. To add to her breakfast challenge, she takes a thyroid medication in the morning that requires her to wait two hours before she eats. She also gets her 16-month-old son, Sebastian, ready for day care, and then boards a train from New Jersey to Cooking Light’s New York City offices. Breakfast gets picked up and eaten at the office. “My life is on-the-go and often feels chaotic,” she says. On a good day, she might pick up an English muffin with peanut butter, but she also veers toward scrambled eggs and home fries or the ham-and-cheese croissant.
Samantha is motivated to eat breakfast; she just needs to fine-tune her choices. Her cafeteria offers fruit, oatmeal, low-fat yogurt, and other healthy options, but also loads of tempting high-fat and high-sodium choices. Better, though not easy, to work more homemade foods into her life.
- Plan for it. Make a weekly breakfast game plan and grocery list to bring order to chaotic mornings—and to give you one less thing to have to worry or make a decision about.
- BYOB. Yes, bring your own breakfast in that insulated lunch bag. If you bring it, you’ll likely eat it—and you’ll skip the home fries and bacon.
- Build a healthy sandwich. Start with 100% whole-grain bread, and fill with a bit of shaved ham, pear slices, and cheddar, or tuna and avocado—either way, you’re building on April’s whole-grain goal.
- Stash go-to snacks at work. There are undoubtedly going to be some days when you just can’t pull anything together. Instead of heading for the deli or fast-food joint, have good options waiting for you at work. A jar of peanut butter is a shelf-stable friend—perfect with graham crackers, whole-grain crackers, or apples, all of which you can keep in your desk drawer. If there’s a fridge at work, even better—start the week with a supply of yogurt, fresh fruit, or a few sticks of string cheese. See more healthy office snacks.
- If you don’t like breakfast food, try fun options that taste like lunch and that can be made ahead. Shake things up by packing pasta or grain salads like cold Asian sesame noodles or brown rice salad, or chicken, tuna, or egg salad with whole-grain crackers. Find delicious and healthy lunch recipes.
- If you must grab something from a fast-food place, our dietitian approved options include Starbucks’ yogurt parfaits, Subway’s Egg and Cheese Muffin Melt, and McDonald’s Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait or Egg McMuffin (though the latter is a bit high in sodium, so watch your salt intake the rest of the day). At the cafeteria, opt for a veggie omelet, or a fruit cup and whole-grain bagel (if it’s the standard mega size, eat half and save the rest for the next day). Steer clear of the pastries and the hot station. See more healthy fast food breakfasts.