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IBX Insights

Break the Breakfast Rut

By March 14, 2017December 28th, 2021Well-being
A person preparing a jar of overnight oats

Nothing shames us more than picture-perfect Instagram breakfasts: colorful, carb-free, with a high likelihood of chia seeds. On the average Wednesday morning, I’m not looking for a photogenic breakfast, just something tasty and healthy that I can eat one-handed while getting ready for the day. I asked Heather Rudalavage, RDN LDN, dietitian, busy mom, and founder of Intuitive Nutrition about her refreshingly simple morning meals, how to get out of a breakfast rut and if you really need to eat “breakfast” for breakfast.

IBX: What do you eat for breakfast on weekday mornings?
Rudalavage: I’m kind of a Plain Jane when it comes to breakfast — I’m probably the only dietitian who actually doesn’t like oatmeal! I either eat Special K® Red Berries with nonfat milk or I make a scrambled egg using one whole egg and just the white of a second egg. If I make scrambled eggs, I usually make a piece of oatmeal bread toast to go with it. Occasionally, if I have leftover tortillas, I make a breakfast burrito with salsa, scrambled egg, and some low-fat cheese.

IBX: What are some recommendations for easy or make-ahead breakfasts?
Rudalavage: For those who do like oatmeal, I recommend overnight oats for quick, make-ahead breakfasts. Other options are trail mix made with granola, dried fruit, and nuts, or an apple or whole grain toast with nut butter. In a pinch, an instant breakfast shake or a Greek yogurt also work. Since these are lower-calorie options, expect to feel hungry by 10 a.m. Plan for this and pack a handful of nuts or a low-fat cheese stick and a piece of fruit.

IBX: Come to think of it, I’m always hungry again by midmorning. Why is that?
Rudalavage: It could be that your breakfast is too low in calories (aim for 500), or too low in protein (aim for 8 – 10 grams) and/or fat. Another reason may be the time you eat breakfast. Many people get up early and eat breakfast at 6:30 a.m. In that case, hunger at 10:30 makes sense because it’s been four hours since the last meal.

Here’s another possibility: eating a a high-carbohydrate breakfast (say, a bowl of sweet cereal with almond milk, orange juice, and coffee with sugar) can raise blood glucose and increase insulin levels, which leads to craving even more carbohydrates. This “insulin spike” can put you on a hunger/high blood sugar see-saw for the rest of the day — not good!

IBX: Is it okay to eat the same thing every morning?
Rudalavage: It’s easy to get stuck in a breakfast rut; even I eat pretty much the same thing every morning! There isn’t anything wrong with a rut, but if you are looking for a change, Pinterest is a great source for smoothie recipes, overnight oat recipes, and other ideas. As long as your usual breakfast contains some protein (like dairy, nuts, or eggs) and some fiber from whole grains or fruit, then stick with it if it works for you.

IBX: Help me brainstorm some new breakfast ideas.
Rudalavage: Making a breakfast bento box with a hardboiled egg, whole grain crackers, and some fruit is fun for kids who eat breakfast at school or for working people who need to be at their desks early! Also, save your leftovers: Leftover veggies work well in an omelet, and leftover grains like quinoa can be made into a hot cereal (it’s delicious served with diced apples). Ask people you know who have different culinary traditions what they eat for breakfast — the possibilities are really endless!

IBX: What makes breakfast breakfast? Are there any rules?
Rudalavage: The only rule is that any breakfast is better than no breakfast. When you wake up in the morning, you have been fasting for up to ten hours, so it’s important to fuel your body and kick start your metabolism for the day.

Need more breakfast ideas? See a dietitian for free

Did you know that Independence members get six free nutrition counseling sessions a year?* You can search for a participating registered dietitian using our online provider directory.

* Not all employers offer nutrition counseling visits as part of their benefits plans. Please contact Customer Service or your benefits administrator to determine if this benefit applies to your coverage.


Rebecca Finkel

I’ve been vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, paleo, gluten free, dairy-free, low-carb, and kosher, yet I fall again and again to the lure of the Reuben. As I get older, I’m learning to take a more omnivorous approach to health, but I still love writing about new trends in diet, fitness, and wellbeing.