Sunday, June 17, 2012

Making Healthy Decisions (for Breakfast)

Everyday we face hundreds of decisions that affect our weight. We ask ourselves, should I: have another slice of pizza, take the stairs or the elevator, order take-out, ride my bike or drive, buy skim or 2% milk?  A lot of the time when we make decisions like these, we are not conscious of the fact that we are making decisions that affect our health.  We simply buy the 2% milk because that is what we always buy, or take the elevator because that is what everyone else is doing.  We don’t think about the fact that skim milk has 40 less calories/cup, and that if we poured 1 cup of skim milk vs. 2% milk in our cereal everyday we would save ourselves 14,600 calories (~4 lbs) a year.

On my weight loss journey I learned to become more conscious of the decisions I was making throughout the day.  I started by taking a look at what I was choosing to eat for breakfast. Since companies do such a great job making all breakfast items look like health food, I was truly amazed what I discovered when I took a magnifying glass to my breakfast plate.

In college I ate Lucky Charms with 2% milk every morning for breakfast.  Since there is virtually no protein in this cereal, I ate large portions to try to hold me over until lunch.  I was starting each day with 350-400 calories that were virtually ”empty”, and because of this, I was usually hungry just a few hours after breakfast.  Eventually I switched over to Kashi GoLean Crunch because it appears to be so healthy (it even says “lean” in the title).  Upon further examination, I found that the GoLean Crunch actually had 50 more calories per serving and 2 grams more sugar than my Lucky Charms.  I guess at least I was getting some protein and fiber out of my Go”Lean”.

At this point I really got serious.  I wasn’t going to fall for any more advertising traps.  What I wanted to find was something that had a lot of lean protein to keep my hunger in check, but didn’t contain a lot of calories or added sugars.  That is when I discovered nonfat plain yogurt.  Nonfat plain yogurt has 120 calories and 12 grams of protein per cup.  I found that the lean protein in yogurt filled me up a lot longer than the typical high-carb breakfast.  I started out eating just one cup of plain yogurt every morning, but now I eat a half cup of yogurt with a small serving of high fiber cereal (I like Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal, which is similar to All Bran).  The high fiber cereal helps to curb my cravings for carbs, and the fiber helps keep me full until lunch.

I love weekend brunch, and although I don’t go regularly, I knew that I couldn’t give it up altogether.  My celebration brunch is blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup, bacon, some breakfast potatoes and a cup of orange juice.  Unfortunately, I discovered that the sides on that meal alone amount to about 800 calories (including the maple syrup and the pat of butter on top of the pancakes).  That isn’t even counting the main dish!  The other downside of this meal is that it makes me really full, so my activity level tends to be low the rest of the day.  

Now that I am more breakfast conscious, I no longer order the sides. Instead, I go right for my favorite part, the blueberry pancakes.  I also remove the pat of butter from the cakes and use only half of the provided syrup portion (these two things alone save me at least 200 calories).  I still enjoy my breakfast, and my husband doesn’t have to roll me home afterwards :).

I used breakfast choices as an example, but you can apply the same concept to any aspect of your life.  All it takes is a little bit of honest reflection on your current habits, and some research into healthier alternatives
.  Weight loss involves understanding and accepting the differences between what we are doing, and what we should be doing.


  1. I love this post. So many good points! Since I started doing Weight Watchers, I haven't hardly touched cold cereal. It's just not worth the calories/points for what it gives you! My new go-to breakfast is two slices of whole wheat toast with fat free cheese and cooked egg whites in between. Tastes great and keeps me full all morning!

    1. That sounds yummy Becky! Another good one is whole wheat English muffins. The ones at my store have 7 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber and only 130 calories. I use them for toast, sandwiches and burger buns.

  2. Oh man I love me some brunch. It's so hard to eat out, though, because even if you think you know what you're getting, you have no idea how much butter they cook eggs in. I've taken to asking for egg white omelettes with Pam and a lot of places can do that now. I'm thankful that the Atkins fad from a few years back resulted in a lot of places offering fresh fruit or tomato slices in lieu of potatoes, too.

    Good idea about limiting your cereal intake. It's shocking how even the "healthy" cereals contain so much sugar. I eat yogurt at least 4x a week and add a little granola to it - the granola having the heaviest caloric bang by volume than pretty much anything I eat all day.

  3. I have enjoyed reading and rereading your posts over the last year or so. I decided myself to get serious about setting a goal and getting there and yours is one of the first sites I found to keep motivated and learn from someone else who seemed to be in about my situation. I was wondering if you have registered or considered the national weight loss registry who requires a thirty pound loss and at least one year of keeping it maintained. That is one thing I am considering and also to make my goal loss thirty rather than the original seventeen. I got excited with the first seven i lost and then i got pregnant so that put a major major snafoo in my plans and I temporarily just " let myself go" completely, got depressed , just was on the verge of giving up but am now halfway through and remotivated and just hoping to have a minimum weight gain so I can get right back on the bandwagon as soon as baby is born. I really understand what you mean about the fine line between a diet and an eating disorder but the honest truth is you really have to kind of "obsess" on it and totally immerse yourself and it is NOT GOING TO BE EASY, anyway, thanks for your blog and really have been helped .

    1. Thank you so much Michelle! I can't tell you how much your words mean to me. I spend a lot of time putting these posts together, and sometimes I wonder if anyone ever reads them! Congratulations on your pregnancy, and on your dedication to becoming healthier :). I tried to register for the National Weight Loss Registry a few years ago, but they never sent me the follow-up paperwork. Thanks for the reminder, I will have to try again. It is good to have an overall goal (30 pound loss), but make sure to set smaller goals along the way to keep you motivated! No, it is not going to be easy, but it does get easier along the way. Let me know if you have questions, or if there is something specific you would like me to post about. Thanks again!