Encouraging Health and Happiness

What to eat for breakfast? Find out what Michelle Obama and 5 health experts eat

By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., Nutrition Editor, EatingWell Magazine

Last week, when I went to the USDA in Washington, D.C,. to attend the unveiling of the new food icon—MyPlate—to accompany the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, I also met Michelle Obama (!). Full disclosure: I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time and it was brief, but long enough for me to ask the First Lady what she ate for breakfast that morning.

So, what did she have for her a.m. meal? Scrambled eggs, turkey sausage and fresh grapefruit. Delicious, healthy and nearly in line with MyPlate. She was missing her grains and dairy. She fell short on vegetables, too, though if she doubled up on her fruit servings that would have counted as a sufficient substitution for a vegetable serving.

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This made me—and some other editors in the EatingWell office—curious… What do other nutrition and health experts eat—and how do their breakfasts compare to MyPlate?

In case you’re curious about what I eat for breakfast: My typical weekday meal includes: oatmeal (made with water) with fresh or frozen fruit mixed in (whatever’s on sale that week) and a dash of maple syrup; plus, two cups of coffee with skim milk.

How my morning meal compares to MyPlate: I ought to step it up in the fruit or vegetable department and consider swapping one of my coffees for a latte to get a little more protein and low-fat dairy.

Healthy Breakfast Recipes to Try:
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Breakfasts for 350 Calories or Less
4 Health Benefits of Coffee (and 4 Cons to Consider)

Here’s what 4 more nutrition and health experts put on their breakfast plates:

David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.P.M., F.A.C.P., EatingWell advisor and director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center.
What he eats for breakfast: “My breakfast—most days—is a mix of berries (blueberries, raspberries and blackberries) with whole-grain cereals (usually Nature’s Path Multigrain and/or Heritage; and possibly some other, such as Ezekiel’s Golden Flax), possibly some other fruit, such as diced banana or apple, and nonfat Greek yogurt.”

How his morning meal compares to MyPlate: “The meal is more berries than anything else, all of the grain is whole grain and the nonfat Greek yogurt is the dairy and protein shown on MyPlate. I would say my breakfast aligns well with MyPlate, but in many ways surpasses it. It’s not half of the grains that are whole but all. The nonfat Greek yogurt is about the most nutrient-dense dairy product there is—and berries are particularly nutrient-dense fruits. A breakfast of champions…or so I hope!”

Rachel Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., M.P.H., EatingWell advisor, professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont, Vice Chair of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee and a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Science Board 
What she eats for breakfast:
7:30 a.m.: Starbucks grande nonfat (extra-hot) latte
9:00 a.m.: Whole-wheat 100-calorie sandwich thin with almond butter and maple pumpkin butter
11:00 a.m.: Heart-to-Heart whole-grain cereal, fresh strawberries and blueberries with skim milk

How her morning meal compares to MyPlate: “I hit everything on MyPlate—fruits (strawberries, blueberries); vegetables (pumpkin); whole grains (sandwich thin); protein (almond butter); and dairy (skim milk).”

Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D., spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and co-author of The Baby & Toddler Cookbook (Weldon Owen, 2011).
What she eats for breakfast: A cup of coffee with 1% milk, a small glass of calcium-fortified orange juice (sometimes I’ll have berries instead), a glass of 1% milk and a bowl of oatmeal with a tablespoon of ground flaxseed.

How her morning meal compares to MyPlate: “As you can see, noticeably absent are the vegetables… As it turns out, we don’t have to [eat vegetables at breakfast]. The sample meal plans [at choosemyplate.gov] contain several breakfasts, which suggest double servings of fruits instead of a fruit and a veggie. Some of the sample breakfast meals also swap in milk for protein, which is great because most of us don’t have the calorie allowance at breakfast to eat all of these foods plus a glass of milk to boot. It looks like my weak link is in the produce department. Next time I’ll be drinking that juice and eating those berries too.”

Bonnie Taub-Dix, M.A., R.D., C.D.N., author of Read It Before You Eat It and weight-loss expert in New York.
What she eats for breakfast: Banana-almond muffin, cottage cheese and yogurt.

How her morning meal compares to MyPlate: “My muffins are made with 100 percent whole-wheat flour and contain banana and almonds (healthy fat), my cottage cheese and yogurt are non- or low-fat dairy and my cottage cheese is also protein. I fell short in the vegetable department and, honestly, I think that most people will do the same at breakfast. It may just be important to emphasize fruit in the morning and focus on veggies at lunch, dinner and snacks.”

What do you eat for breakfast—and how does it compare to the MyPlate guidelines?


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