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Unhealthy Breakfast Foods


By Diane Hanson


I eat breakfast every day. Without food to pacify my growling stomach in the morning, I just cannot function optimally. Many people I know skip breakfast for a variety of reasons. Some don’t eat breakfast because of time constraint, some simply don’t have an early appetite while some breakfast skippers are looking to cut calorie intake and shed off a bit of extra weight.


However, the advantage of eating substantially in the first part of the day should not be ignored. When you get up in the morning, the last meal that you had would be at least 8-9 hours ago. And, if your first meal of the day is lunch, that deprives your body of nutrients for more than 12 hours. Without food to fuel your body and brain, you’ll feel tired and more likely to make poor food choices during lunch time.


With so many breakfast choices and ideas available, how can you be sure you’re feeding your body with healthy calories? Let’s examine a few of the most commonly eaten breakfast foods and find out what are the unhealthy breakfast foods that you should avoid at all costs.

What Breakfast Foods Are Bad for You?

No doubt cereals make a quick and easy breakfast choice, but some may be actually bad for you. Many of us are not keen on cereals associated with bran, and we prefer our cereals “frosted”, which may have astonishingly high levels of added sugar.

Take a look at the sugar content per serve of these seemingly healthy cereals – Raisin Bran (19g), Kashi Go Lean Crunch (13g), Frosted Flakes & Frosted Mini-Wheats (12g), and Cinnamon Toast (10g) – they contain as much sugar as a candy bar!

Not only will consuming too much sugar can cause excessive weight gain over time, it also robs your body of Vitamins and minerals and cause your blood sugar level to rise sharply.

When insulin level in your blood fluctuates, it makes you feel tired and listless. Headaches and mood swings are also apparent when the blood glucose is unstable.

In addition, sugar is highly addictive. The more sugar you consume, the more unbalanced your blood glucose becomes, and the more sugar your body craves in order to fix the imbalance it perceives.

If you prefer sweet-tasting cereal, try adding fresh fruit to bran cereal. Naturally sweet fruits banana and mango are great additions. Or, spoon in a dollop of fruit yogurt (without added sugar) to improve the flavor.

Alternatively, eat a bowl of hot oatmeal porridge topped with dried fruits such as dates or raisins, and sprinkle with some sunflower seeds or chopped nuts like walnuts for a bit of crunch. Oatmeal is way better in terms of nutritional value. It has more fiber, phytochemicals and protein than packaged cereals. It also provides you with a steady level of energy and fullness to control hunger so you stay comfortably full until lunch and won’t overeat.



Bacon, Ham and Sausages
Processed meats have received the most criticism for their high saturated fat and salt content, meaning they are not heart-friendly foods. A slice of regular ham, for example, contains 2 times more fat and 25 times more salt than an equivalent portion of pork tenderloin.


Besides, sodium nitrite which is found in most processed meat including bacon, breakfast sausage, beef jerky, pepperoni, cured ham, luncheon meat and hot dog is closely associated with a higher risk of cancer. Food manufacturers use this chemical to turn dead meat looking fresh and vibrant red.


If you can’t go without processed meats, then consume fairly large amounts of Vitamins C and E before dietary exposure to sodium nitrite. This helps inhibit the conversion of sodium nitrite to cancer-causing nitrosamines.


However, the best thing you can do to reduce cancer risks is to avoid processed meats altogether or opt for nitrate-free varieties. Better yet, start your day with eggs (a more healthy source of protein as compared to breakfast meats), wholemeal toast (complex carbs) and a small piece of Vitamin C rich fruit (kiwi, orange, grapefruit), which will help your body make the best use of the iron in the eggs.


Fruit Juice
If you think a glass of freshly squeezed fruit juice without any added sugar is an elixir to youth and good health, then you might want to think again.


The truth is fructose in fruit juices is rapidly absorbed into the blood stream and causes your insulin level to go haywire. But if you eat a whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juice, it slows down the pace of absorption of natural sugars in your body. Another huge plus, you also get fiber from eating a whole fruit.



Since the 80’s muffins had been marketed as a light and nutritious breakfast food. But look closely at what goes into a muffin – basically it is nothing more than sugar, flour and butter or margarine. Hence, a muffin is no different from any butter cake.


A bakery bought muffin has a whopping 350-600 calories and about 12-27 grams of fat, plus lots of empty calories from sugar and other additives. Have muffins as occasional treats, but not for breakfast.



Energy Bars
Maybe you don’t have the time for a sit down breakfast
so you grab a healthy power bar on the way out to combat hunger attack. But a power bar is a candy bar gussied up with protein powder.

It offers very little nutrition – just a slab of sugar, fat and added flavors from chocolate, nuts, seeds and dried fruits – and can sap your energy, leaving you hungry by mid morning.

If you really want a “grab-and-go” breakfast bar, then make your own granola bars. That way, you have control over the ingredients and the portion sizes, both of which are major factors in healthy weight loss.



In summary, open your eyes to what you eat. Throw out any unhealthy breakfast items that will make you stray away from healthy foods. My maxim for healthy breakfast choices – if Grandma is not eating it, why should you?



unhealthy breakfast foods

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