5 Mistakes You Are Making in Your Healthy Breakfast

A plate full off pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs, and one strawberry

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Not all "breakfast foods" are nutritious and choosing the wrong foods can turn your healthy morning meal into a high-calorie, nutrient-poor mess. Here are some common ways that people ruin a healthy breakfast:.

Making Breakfast Too Sugary

Take a look at all those pre-sweetened cereals next time you go to the grocery store. Most of these sugary cereals are just boxes of candy with a few vitamins and minerals added into the mix. But the problem isn't just pre-sweetened cereal – many people associate breakfast with sweet pastries, loads of syrup, and frosted things you pop into the toaster.

Fix It: Avoid Extra Sugar

  • Choose unsweetened, whole grain cereals. Add your own sugar (but no more than a teaspoon).
  • Instead of pastry, toast a slice of whole grain bread and then top it with a 100-percent fruit spread.
  • Top hot oatmeal with fresh berries and chopped walnuts. If you need sweetness, add a dab of real maple syrup or a teaspoon of brown sugar.

Not Including Enough Protein

Isn't it interesting how we associate certain foods with breakfast? Sugary cereals, pancakes, and waffles smothered in syrup appeal to many people. They're high in starch and sugar and low in protein. Protein keeps you feeling full longer so you won't feel so hungry in the middle of the morning.

Fix It: Boost Protein

  • Have a piece of 100-percent whole-grain toast with peanut butter or almond butter and a glass of milk.
  • Try salmon or tuna with light cream cheese or mayo on whole grain bagels or toast.
  • Add protein powder to a fruit smoothie.

Avoiding Whole Grains

Most of those sugary breakfast cereals and pastries are also low in fiber. Whole grains provide fiber, which can keep your cholesterol levels and keeps your digestive system healthy.

Fix It: Choose Whole Grains

  • Eat whole grain, unsweetened hot or cold breakfast cereals.
  • Use whole grain bread instead of white bread for your toast.
  • Make low-fat oat bran muffins.

Not Eating Any Fruit or Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are usually low in calories and rich in nutrients and phytochemicals. Experts recommend that we eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day (no, that bowl of fruit-flavored cereal doesn't count).

Fix It: Pick Produce

  • Make an omelet with mushrooms, peppers, and onions.
  • Slice a grapefruit or orange in half and serve with whole grain toast with peanut butter.
  • Add berries, raisins, or bananas to your whole grain cereal.

Skipping Breakfast Altogether

Maybe you skip breakfast because you're in a hurry, or you think skipping breakfast is a good way to cut calories. But it really isn't. People who skip breakfast are more likely to be overweight, probably because they eat too much later in the day.

Fix It: Make Breakfast Easy

  • Keep ready-to-eat foods handy: hard-boiled eggs, nuts, and fresh fruit.
  • Make a fruit smoothie.
  • Make your own energy bites with healthy ingredients.
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  • Lichtenstein AH, Kennedy E, Barrier P, Danford D, Ernst ND, Grundy SM, Leveille GA, Van Horn L, Williams CL. "Dietary Fat Consumption and Health." Booth SL.Nutr Rev. 1998 May;56(5 Pt 2):S3-19; discussion S19-28. 

  • Stevenson EJ, Williams C, Mash LE, Phillips B, Nute ML. "Influence of High-Carbohydrate Mixed Meals With Different Glycemic Indexes on Substrate Utilization During Subsequent Exercise in Women." Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Aug;84(2):354-60. 

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By Shereen Lehman, MS
Shereen Lehman, MS, is a former writer for Verywell Fit and Reuters Health. She's a healthcare journalist who writes about healthy eating and offers evidence-based advice for regular people.