Is Your Breakfast More Like Dessert? News & Events, Nutrition

Is Your Breakfast More Like Dessert?


Have you ever thought about the meaning of the word BREAKFAST? Since it is your first meal of the day, you are breaking your overnight fast… Break [your] Fast. When most people think about breakfast they think of cereals, toast, bagels, pancakes, waffles, muffins, yogurt, oatmeal, fruit smoothie, orange juice, and coffee.  Now let’s explore some of these foods to better understand if they are healthy choices for breakfast. Take a moment to examine the label on your breakfast foods:


  • What’s the Serving Size?  Compare the serving size on the label to the amount that you eat. If it’s not the same, you will need to do a little math to determine what you are consuming. For example, if the serving size is ½ cup, and you are eating 1 cup, you will need to multiply everything in the label by 2.
  • Check the Carbohydrates. How many carbohydrates are in a serving (how many are in your serving?).  If you are not an athlete training for an event, you most likely only need 40-60% of your calories coming from carbohydrates.


Sources of Carbohydrates?  Under Total Carbohydrate, you will see Dietary Fiber, Total Sugars, and Added Sugars.


  • Total Carbohydrates: Based on 2,000 calories a day (caloric needs vary depending on height, age, weight and activity level), you should consume about 200 grams of complex carbohydrates per day. That is roughly 40 to 60 grams of carbs per meal and 15 to 30 grams for snacks.
  • Dietary Fiber: Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate that is important for digestion, heart health and disease prevention. It will also keep us feeling fuller and satisfied longer. Aim for at least 4+ grams of fiber in your cereals, breads, muffins, etc.
  • Total Sugars: High sugar foods wreak havoc on our body, especially in the morning. It will cause blood sugar levels to spike, subsequently causing blood sugar dips, cravings and mood swings. Maybe not immediately, but over time this will cause inflammation, insulin resistance, and increase risk for heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily sugar to 6 tsps (25g) for women, and 9 tsps (38g) for men.
  • Added Sugars: The new label mandate has added this very valuable line. This helps us determine how much of the sugar is naturally occurring and how much has been added. Either way, we don’t want sugars to be high, but we definitely prefer natural rather than added.



After reading labels, how confident are you about your breakfast? Starting with cereal, America’s default breakfast, this ubiquitous box is present in almost every home, cafeteria, and breakfast buffet. Its safe to say that it is a staple in most people’s diets. Why, because it’s easy, delicious and many cereals are marketed to be healthy sources of fiber and nutrition. Now that you have examined the label, add the calories and sugars to your total meal count. Yup, there is sugar in milk, lactose is sugar.  Most milk has about 12 grams carbs coming from sugar in an 8 oz. serving. How does it compare to your daily limits?


Now look at the grams of sugar in your yogurt. Flavored yogurt and often times non-fat yogurt will have a shocking amount of added sugar.  Opt for plain yogurt and add your own fruit for sweetness.


Food for thought, how different are your pancakes and waffles from a cookie or cake? Even the name represents a dessert; pancake. If you don’t want to say goodbye to these completely, modify the ingredients by using a whole grain, high fiber mix.  Rather than topping them with syrup, use fresh fruit. Include a healthy nut, such as walnuts, to help balance the meal with heart healthy fats. Practice portion size by understanding the amount of carbs in your serving.


Oatmeal is a high fiber, heart healthy breakfast, but avoid the flavored oatmeals as they are packed with sugar.  Make a delicious bowl of oatmeal by using fresh or frozen fruit, add extra fiber with flax or chia seeds.


Just say no to juices. Let me ask you this… how many oranges or apples will you typically eat in one sitting? Usually only one. If you have ever made fresh squeezed fruit juice you know it takes about 5-6 pieces of fruit to make a small glass of juice. Manufactured juices typically have added sugar as well. We don’t need that amount of sugar, at one time, even if it is natural sugar.  I suggest eating the one piece of fruit rather than the juice.


Want to learn how to optimize your nutrition for a healthier lifestyle?

Schedule an appointment with our Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Katie Di Lauro or 760.931.3132