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Build a better breakfast

You know you need to improve your eating habits, but overhauling your entire diet can be intimidating. Start with small steps and revamp just one meal at a time—beginning with breakfast.

People who eat a healthy morning meal have certain advantages over people who skip breakfast: Breakfast eaters consume more vitamins and minerals, eat less fat and cholesterol, have more strength and endurance, have better control over their weight and are better able to concentrate and be more productive throughout the morning. Dodging breakfast as a way to slash calories typically backfires and causes ravenous binges later in the day.

The first step is to avoid breakfast bad guys like doughnuts, pastries, sausage, bacon and oversized breakfast sandwiches. Your new-and-improved breakfast should include more whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and limit saturated fats, sugar and salt. Try choosing one serving from at least three of the following groups:

  • Fruits and vegetables. Fresh is best, but frozen is a good second. Choose 100 percent orange, grapefruit and vegetable juices without added sugar or salt. Enjoy a fruit salad topped with yogurt and crunchy whole-grain cereal. Top your cereal, waffle or pancakes with a scoop of berries, raisins, dried cranberries, sliced bananas or peaches. Or try a sweet potato—you don’t have to be conventional—just healthy!
  • Whole grains. Buy whole-grain breads, rolls, bagels, waffles, tortillas, crackers or low-fat bran muffins. Choose cold or cooked cereals such as oatmeal, millet, shredded wheat or bran. Make French toast from whole-grain bread or try buckwheat pancakes.
  • Dairy. Select low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese. Add fresh fruit to cottage cheese or yogurt. Blend milk or yogurt with fruit to make a smoothie. Or top a microwaved potato with veggies and a slice of low-fat cheese.
  • Protein. Choose from eggs, egg substitutes, peanut butter, lean slices of meat, poultry and fish, such as salmon or water-packed tuna. Smear peanut butter onto whole-grain toast or roll slices of meat or a scrambled egg into a whole-wheat tortilla.