Maybe you’ve been interested in eating healthy for awhile, but have either gotten off track or you’re just not sure where your meals stand nutrition-wise. Since we all know that eating a healthy breakfast is the best way to ensure you’re successful the rest of the day, I thought I would share an easy check-list with you so you can see where you stand in getting your day off to a nutritious start. Among all the food choices we have at the supermarket, it’s easy to get confused and overwhelmed, which might lead you to buy something that seems healthy but is actually not.

To cut out the confusion and the need to count calories, start by looking at what foods you need to include and which ones you need to avoid during your morning meal. When you look at foods for their quality and not their calorie content, making a healthy breakfast choice will be as easy as brushing your teeth or making the bed each morning.

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The foods you choose first thing in the day should be low in sugar to keep your glycemic index levels as steady as possible. This is important for your stress levels, maintaining a healthy weight, and ensures your meals are less processed. Aim for your breakfast to be high in nutrients and minimally processed as much as absolutely possible.

Foods to Add:

  • Low-glycemic fruits (berries, yellow bananas, green apples, oranges, grapefruit, pomegranate seeds, avocado)
  • 100 percent whole grains in the natural form (oats, quinoa, millet, amaranth, wheat bran, rye flakes, barley, wild rice)
  • Unsweetened nondairy milk (almond, coconut, soy,hemp, flax)
  • Leafy greens (for smoothies or savory breakfasts)
  • Tofu (for smoothies or a savory breakfast)
  • Vegetables (for savory breakfast choices)
  • Nuts and seeds (for yogurt, eaten alone, chia pudding, added to oatmeal, or used in smoothies)
  • Homemade granola bars from oats, raisins, almonds, etc.
  • Vegan yogurt(low-sugar however possible)
  • Sprouted grain bread (for toast or a morning sandwich)
  • Vegan protein powders (choose no added sugar varieties)
  • Superfoods (any)
  • Healthy condiments: stevia, spices, herbs, tamari, plain nut butters, plain (no sugar added) 100 percent fruit jam
  • 1 – 2 cups coffee (don’t add sugar)
  • Grain-free flours and shredded coconut to make your own breakfast bars
  • Green tea
  • Herbal tea

You can use any of these ingredients to make a smoothie, oatmeal, savory breakfast skillet, or even hot soup with rice if you’re into macrobiotics. These foods are rich in nutrients and make a fantastic way to start off your day!

Now, let’s talk about what NOT to eat. These foods are highly processed, high in sugar, high in sodium, can cause unhealthy blood sugar levels, cause food allergies, and/or may even cause digestive upset. They also lead to food cravings since they don’t contain quality nutrients. Remember, your body knows real food from fake food and the more real food it receives, the more satisfied you’ll be and the better you will feel.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Boxed cereals
  • Boxed granola bars
  • Sweetened nondairy milks
  • Vegan yogurts with more than 5 grams of sugar
  • Vegan meal bars with more than 5 grams of sugar
  • Frozen waffles or frozen meals
  • Vegan protein powders with added sugar
  • Refined bread
  • Nut butters with added sugar
  • Jams with added sugar
  • Maple syrup, honey, molasses (extremely high in sugar even though natural)
  • Excess caffeine (stick to two cups of coffee or drink green tea all day instead)
  • Processed vegan meats or sausage (high in sodium, possibly contain GMO ingredients)
  • Granola (usually made with refined sugar or high-glycemic sweeteners like honey)

If you typically eat foods on this list, please don’t be offended.  This isn’t to say eating one of these foods occasionally would hurt you, but the idea behind choosing a healthy breakfast is that it lays the groundwork for the day ahead. The less processed your food is and the less sugar it contains, the less cravings you’ll have throughout the day for other processed foods or foods high in sugar.

Remember, it’s not about being perfect, but about choosing as much high quality ingredients as absolutely possible. Need breakfast recipes? We’ve got great options for you right here with these 5 healthy options or these raw vegan breakfast ideas. Enjoy!

Image source: Pomegranate Oatmeal Burst