When it comes to reducing inflammation and the risk for chronic diseases, switching to plant-based foods is an excellent choice. Eating more plant-based foods such as tofu, beans, soy, and lentils and using substitutes for dairy and meat, helps to reduce inflammation in the body and increase phytochemicals and antioxidants in our daily meals. For those with prediabetes or diabetes, consuming more plant-based foods can also help reduce the risk of other chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Including more protein at meals also helps to reduce how high blood glucose (blood sugar) rises after you eat.
Follow these tips to start your day right! Studies have repeatedly shown the benefits of a healthy breakfast. In fact, a good start can help you manage glucose levels, too! Follow the steps below to take the hassle and headache out of your first meal of the day.
Eating breakfast has shown to help boost metabolism, which means your body does a better job managing your weight. This can be a key factor for some people in managing their diabetes too. But whether you’re a student, parent, or working professional, your busy schedule might keep you from eating a balanced breakfast in the mornings.
Make Breakfast While You Sleep
That sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Not quite! There are many unique “overnight oatmeal” recipes out there, but all you need to remember is the most basic recipe. Try this: simply mix ¼ cup oats and ½ cup low-fat milk (or milk substitute like soy milk) in a container or jar that can be sealed tightly, and leave it in the fridge overnight. That’s it! When you wake up your oatmeal is ready for breakfast. You can “dress” up your oatmeal by mixing in a tablespoon of peanut butter for some added protein, or add a bit of vanilla extract and cinnamon for additional flavor.
Double Your Cooking
Choose about one or two recipes that you would eat for breakfast and set aside one day of the week to cook these recipes. To make it easy, select a recipe that yields enough servings so that you can divide and spread it throughout the week. You can also choose a recipe that might yield only one serving and simply double or triple the ingredients. Some great recipes to try out include making smoothies that you can just pour in a glass or in a to-go cup the next morning. You can also try out a savory twist on oatmeal with this Savory Mediterranean Oats or another grab and go recipe like these Mini Veggie Frittatas.
Having one large breakfast meal that can be easily warmed up the next morning, or packed in a container that you can just grab and go on your way out will save you time and ensure you get a healthy start to your day.
Fast Food Options for a Fast Morning
Request substitutes. Many small restaurants and fast food restaurants are able to swap out ingredients for their customers. For example, ask if you can have a whole wheat bread or English muffin option. This could add about three or more grams of fiber, an important nutrient to help you stay full longer. Instead of a croissant or other pastries, ask for fresh fruit as your side instead.
Whether it’s a drive-through, or a restaurant that’s on your way to work or school, sometimes these places are really your only options in the mornings, and that’s okay! Here are some tips on how to make these places like your own kitchen and grab a healthy breakfast:
Take out the extra calories. If you’re ordering a breakfast sandwich, ask that it’s not prepared with butter. This could lower the sodium by 20 milligrams and the total fat by at least two grams. Look out for other swaps you could make such as choosing Canadian bacon or turkey bacon in place of sausage or regular bacon. This will remove some calories and saturated fat. Skip the cheese and you’ll save another 100 calories.
“Build Your Own” options. Some restaurants may have a “build your own” option where you can take control of what goes into your breakfast. If you choose oatmeal, go for the nutrient dense toppings like unsalted nuts which are great for some protein and healthy fats. You can skip the brown sugar, honey, and dried fruit toppings too. Instead, ask for the fresh fruit toppings (especially berries rich in antioxidants and fiber, but low in calories and carbohydrates) if you’re looking for a sweeter flavor.
Look for the low calorie drinks. It’s not just water! Many cafes or other restaurants with coffee drinks add a lot of extra calories. You can keep your coffee simple, or use skim or low-fat milk instead of creamer. There is also a choice in dairy with lattes and cappuccino’s. Switching from whole to low-fat milk takes off about 20 calories. Watch out for added flavorings and see if there is a sugar-free option. You might even want to try out the many different herbal tea flavors that most places have, all of which are zero calories.
You don’t need to be in a five star restaurant to request a customized meal. So remember, ask for what you want!