You've heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and as a health conscious person, you always try to eat the right things. You know that early morning is the time to refuel your body and kick-start your metabolism for the day with nutritious foods. So you avoid syrupy pancakes, buttery croissants and greasy bacon and reach for what you've heard are the healthier options.
But wait! Are your breakfast choices really as good as you think they are? Read on to discover six popular breakfast foods that most people believe to be healthy, but definitely aren't...
Topping the list as the most deceptive breakfast food ever, granola has a reputation for being a health food but can actually be extremely unhealthy. There are many different varieties on the market, some better than others, but at its worst a bowl of granola for breakfast could potentially set you back a whopping 600 calories! This is due to all the excess sugar and oil added in by the companies to make it taste nicer (plain granola tastes like cardboard). It's possible to find healthier granola but you really have to read the nutrition information on every packet before buying and be careful with your portion sizes.
There's nothing inherently wrong with having toast for breakfast, as long as it's not made with refined white bread. I once read that a loaf of white bread is 'no more than an enormous sugar cube' which not only made me laugh but also had me nodding in agreement. It's been stripped of its nutrients and will only offer you a blood sugar rush followed by a crash. Wholegrain, granary, rye, Ezekiel and brown rice breads are all better options, and eating some protein (for example, a boiled egg) with your toast will keep you feeling full for longer.
3. Cereal Bars
A convenient and healthy on-the-go breakfast? Convenient, yes – but healthy, not so much. Like granola, these bars can be very high in sugar (you're probably starting to realise that sugar is a recurring theme in all of these 'healthy' foods), empty calories and fat - sometimes even trans fat. On top of this, a cereal bar is not a substantial breakfast designed to fill you up until lunch. You might as well just drop the pretence and eat a bar of chocolate.
4. Store Bought Juices and Smoothies
These are always marketed as a healthy option but a quick read of the label will reveal that they can actually contain huge amounts of sugar and preservatives. They also don't contain any fibre, and most of the nutrients and good bacteria are killed during pasteurisation. It's actually been suggested that commercial juices can be as bad for your body as soda. If you love your morning glass of orange juice, invest in a blender or a juicer and start making your own – at least you'll know exactly what's going into it.
5. Bran Muffins
They sound healthy enough, so if you're trying to eat well, you might be tempted to grab one of these from your local coffee shop on your way to work in the morning. However, bran muffins are no more than an excuse to get you to eat cake for breakfast. The name can be misleading – you hear 'bran' and think they'll be good for you, but the important word here is muffin. Yes, bran muffins are still muffins and are packed with large amounts of sugar, salt and butter or oil. (Like granola, plain bran tastes disgusting and needs to be sweetened to make it more palatable). They also often come in huge portion sizes and can contain up to 350 calories per muffin! Bake your own you'll be able to control what's going inside.
Speaking of coffee shops, there's one last culprit here...
6. Skinny Frappuccinos
Yes, I know you just ordered the 'skinny' option, meaning the barista will make your drink with skimmed milk rather than whole. But, having worked as a barista myself years ago, I can tell you that as well as offering little to no nutritional benefits, a 'light' frap will still contain a large amount of sugar (or artificial sweetener, depending on the chain and which syrup base they use), fat, calories and other chemical nasties, as well as a massive caffeine hit which can spike your adrenaline levels and leave you feeling jittery. Not the best start to your morning.
What are your favourite things to eat for breakfast? Can you think of anything else that has a reputation for being healthy but is actually really bad for you? Let me know in the comments!