"That's the feeling of your blood sugar crashing," I replied to my friend when she recently confessed a she sudden hankering for the hot cinnamon rolls a coworker had brought in. When I asked what she'd had earlier for breakfast, I connected the dots between that high-sugar impact catastrophe and her late-morning craving.
Breakfast sets your metabolic tone for the day. When you make mindless mistakes first thing in the morning, you've set your blood sugar on a roller coaster that eventually crashes and leaves you hungry, cranky and craving sugar all day.
Many people mistake certain foods and drinks as healthy when they actually qualify more as dessert. Eating like this for breakfast sets the stage for all-day hunger, cravings and weight loss resistance. Recognize any of these five healthy-impostor breakfast offenders?
1. "Skinny" and "reduced fat" anything
Don't be fooled by these catchphrases, which usually translate into "high-sugar impact." A Starbucks Grande non-fat Skinny Mocha packs 15 grams – nearly four teaspoons – of sugar. Pair it with a Reduced-Fat Berry Coffee Cake with Lemon Crumble and you're getting nearly 50 grams of total sugar.
Smart alternative: Roll sliced turkey and avocado in a cabbage wrap and stick with unsweetened green tea at your java detour.
2. "Healthy" breakfast cereals
You know kids' cereals come sugar-loaded, but you might be surprised to learn cereals at your health food store contain just as much sugar. "Many people are shocked to discover that their 'healthy' go-to breakfast is actually laden with extra sugar, unnecessary calories, carbs and fat — and rightly so when the packaging and slogans scream promises of greater health," writes Lee Sutherland.
Smart alternative: Think outside the box and have dinner for breakfast. When you prepared dinner, make extra lean protein, leafy and cruciferous veggies, and slow-release high-fiber starches. In about the time it takes to pour cereal, you can heat, eat and run.
Dairy aisles contain a baffling array of fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts promising "0 grams fat" and other bold claims. But turn that little container over and you see that a single serving can contain as many as 25 grams of sugar — as much as a candy bar.
Smart alternative: If you're not dairy-intolerant, stick with full-fat, unsweetened Greek yogurt and add your own berries. If you are, look for no-sugar-added coconut yogurt.
4. Protein-enhanced Frankenfoods
Aware studies show it keeps you full and focused for hours, manufacturers now concoct protein-enhanced muffins, pastries, bars and drinks. Most come loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners, gluten and other food intolerances, preservatives and chemical crap. Even the protein here isn't so great: manufacturers oftentimes use cheap soy protein isolate.
Smart alternative: Smear some almond butter on apple slices or celery for a fast, filling, protein-rich breakfast in seconds. If you aren't egg-intolerant, hard-boiled barnyard or organic eggs also make a great grab-and-go breakfast.
Lots of fruit, low in fat and convenient: What's not to love about smoothies? I'll tell you. A lot people think smoothies are a healthy snack or adequate replacement for a meal, but a lot of them are actually loaded with sugar in the form of juice, fro-yo and honey. A small Jamba Juice Banana Berry Smoothie carries an astounding 12 teaspoons of sugar. How is that healthy?!
Smart alternative: Start your day with a crave-busting, fat-burning protein shake. Blend non-dairy, non-soy protein powder, frozen raspberries, avocado, freshly ground flaxseeds and unsweetened coconut or almond milk.
What "healthy" breakfast mistake do you see your friends constantly make? (Or 'fess up: maybe you do it too)? Share yours below.