Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tips to Cut Calories at Breakfast Without Starving!

                So if you’ve ever paid any attention to the nutrition facts on your cereal box (let’s face it, most of us don’t even notice it) you’ll see that a serving size of cereal is quite small. Most that I’ve seen range from about 1/3 to 1 cup of cereal. Here’s a secret, cereal companies purposely do nutrition facts serving sizes small so you think your cereal is healthier. Sure your cereal may be 100 calories per serving but it that serving is 1/3 of a cup you’ll be starving before you finish the bowl! My body is slowly craving what I like to call “adult cereals” in the mornings and so I’ve slowly made the switch from the sugary cereals of my youth to “adult cereals” while trying not to compromise the sweetness I love. Instead of Corn Pops and Captain Crunch I’m more into Quaker Oatmeal Squares and Multi-Grain Cheerios. (P.S. Those sound like boring adult cereals but I promise they’re not!) Switching over from sugar cardboard cereal to healthier, more whole grain cereals is a sure-fire way to cut calories at breakfast simply because you don’t need to eat much of it to feel full (and if you get the right ones they still taste amazing!)
                So like I said, I switched to my “adult cereals” but I didn’t notice too much of a change. I did feel fuller longer but I wouldn’t say the pounds fell off or anything. As a fitness and nutrition expert you’d think I would try to implement things in my own life but I’m a little stubborn. It takes me a while. I finally plucked up the courage to *gasp!* measure out my cereal and milk this morning to get the correct serving size. 1 serving of Quaker Oatmeal Squares (my favorite) was 1 cup of cereal and had 210 calories in it. I never noticed before how many calories were in 1 serving. Really, if you eat the actual serving size, this isn’t much. I measured out 1 cup of the brown sugary squares and quickly realized I easily eat 3 or 4 times that much in a serving (I’m not kidding when I say I love this stuff). For about 30 seconds I had a very powerful internal struggle. Could I cut back to 1 cup all at once? How about if I just eat 2 cups instead? That’s still less than what I normally eat. Then the voice of reason popped it. That’s still 420 calories before I’ve even added milk and everyone knows more cereal means more milk which means more calories. I could easily have a 500 calorie breakfast or more!
                Needless to say, my healthier self won. I ate just the 1 cup with ½ cup of milk. And you know what? I was fine. I didn’t die. In fact, I ate an apple a few minutes later to get some fruit into my breakfast routine and didn’t even finish it I was so full. Every morning I regularly (and needlessly) take in 500+ calories just at breakfast but today, I cut back to roughly 300 calories and I felt just fine. I didn’t even need lunch earlier. I saved 200+ calories on breakfast alone and I picked up some extra motivation to eat better the rest of the day. I swear I haven’t even had a piece of chocolate yet.
                In light of my recent willingness to explore my breakfast options and cut calories I’ve come up with a list of tips on cutting calories at breakfast without starving yourself. These are tried and true, tested methods (though stubborn people like me take a little longer to implement them). Following these tips could spare you 1400+ calories per week which is close to ½ pound of fat per week.
     1. Choose healthier, whole grain options for breakfast, whether that be whole grain bread for your toast/French toast in the morning, whole grain waffles, or whole grain cereals. Whole grains help you feel fuller longer and don’t make you feel bloated the way some processed, white flour cereals and breads can.
     2. Follow the serving size on the box!!! Not only will this help you if you’re calorie counting, but it will help you realize that one serving is enough to keep you full. Why eat an extra 200 calories you don’t need? Following serving sizes will also help you choose healthier cereals. My 1 cup of Quaker Oatmeal Squares for 210 calories is way better and more filling than a 1/3 cup of some processed cereal for the same number of calories.
     3. Switch to fat free milk. If you’re already drinking 1 or 2 percent milk it’s not that far of a stretch to switch to skim. Especially if you’re eating it with a cereal you’ll hardly notice the taste difference and someday you’ll be lucky like me and you’ll come to prefer skim milk to any of the others.
     4. Drink water before you eat. Drinking a glass of water before your breakfast will help you to feel a little less like you’re starving to death in the morning. Sometimes the reason we think we need such a big bowl of cereal is that we feel hungry enough to need it. Drinking that glass of water before pouring your cereal will help you to feel as though 1 serving size will suffice.
     5. Add fruit to your breakfast. A lot of people freak out at the sugars in fruit. Well guess what, the sugars in that fruit are natural sugars that your body needs and has the ability to naturally process. They’re not quite the same as the processed sugars found in processed foods. Eating a piece of fruit at breakfast can help you fill up faster with less calories. If your one serving of cereal wasn’t enough, go for that piece of fruit because it will finish filling you up and it contains way less calories and fat.
     6. Skip the biscuit and go for the English Muffin. If you like your homemade egg McMuffins, use an English Muffin rather than a biscuit. An English Muffin has 120 calories per muffin and only 1 gram of fat. Biscuits can be several hundred calories and almost always contain trans fats which are a HUGE no-no. If you’re in the habit of hitting up the McDonalds on the way to work, it would take you just as long to make one at home as it would be to go through the drive through. Saving hundreds of calories every day is so worth it even if you have to wake up five or ten minutes earlier.
     7. Don’t skip breakfast! Whatever you do, don’t skip the most important meal of the day! I know some of you are thinking that skipping breakfast isn’t a big deal and that you’ll save on calories. Many studies have shown that those who skip breakfast in the morning are more likely to splurge on other calories elsewhere and end up eating more calories per day than those who normally eat breakfast in the morning.
                Make the change. It’s not hard. It takes about 20 seconds longer in the morning to measure serving sizes but that 20 seconds every morning could save you 2 pounds or more per month.

1 comment:

  1. Yum! I love those oatmeal square too! but I also eat twice the serving size... twice a day... good information and very motivating!