Healthy Breakfasts: Solutions for the Top 3 Breakfast Challenges
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Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Busy People

Healthy Breakfast Boosters!

Mason Jar Oats Apples Cranberry Healthy BreakfastStarting the day off right with a healthy breakfast is one of the most important strategies you can make for better energy, health and is a key strategy to help you move towards your personal best weight. Breakfast is also the most frequently missed meal of the day and often the one that gets the least attention.

Can you relate to one or more of the following top 3 breakfast challenges we often hear in our Calgary nutrition counselling practice? Read on to learn some of the practical strategies that have helped some of our clients get going on a healthier morning routine.


WATCH a previous TV interview here:

CTV Morning News, Andrea Holwegner on CTV news


Breakfast challenge #1:

“I skip breakfast because I am not hungry.”


There are a couple of reasons why you may wake up in the morning not hungry:

  1. You are not a morning person and since you were a child really never had much of an appetite for breakfast.
  2. You often under-eat in the day and eat the vast majority of food in the late afternoon or evening so wake up with what I call a “food hangover”
  3. You are a recovering dieter and have lost touch with your hunger cues and food guilt and you need time to re-establish balanced routines.

If you have been skipping breakfast for years, often feel overwhelmed or simply can’t figure out what to eat here are a few strategies to help:

  • Keep it super simple. You don’t need to become a gourmet chef.  Ease into breakfast eating by planning 3 meal ideas you could learn to tolerate that are fast and furious options. Choose 3 things to achieve a balanced meal (grain/starch; fruit/vegetable and source of protein).
  • No coffee until you eat. Coffee can give a false sense of energy and for some people can hinder appetite.  Many of my clients that adore their morning cup of java have found a firm rule that they can’t enjoy a coffee until breakfast has been accomplished, can add some extra motivation.
  • Fake it until you make it!  You may need to simply play the part of an actor and play the role of a geeky healthy breakfast eater (rather than wait until you feel like eating). Anything you do on a regular basis can become a habit but it may take longer than you think.  Research shows that it takes on average 66 days (but the range is 18-254 days) to change a habit.
  • Add a visual trigger. Set out your plate or bowl and cutlery after supper as a visual cue to be one step closer to success in the morning.
  • Ask your kids for nudging. For parents the best type of accountability is often your kids. Tell them you are working on eating a healthy breakfast each morning and ask them to join you. Kids love to point out when you may be breaking the rules and will keep you honest with your goals.
  • Track your progress.  Use a simple sticky note on the fridge with a checklist for the week.  Alternatively use an app such as Strides with notifications and to help you measure your progress.


Breakfast challenge #2:

“I exercise in the morning and I’m unsure what and when to eat.”


Like many things in life one size does not fit all.  The type, duration and intensity of a morning workout can drastically influence what will work best for you BEFORE a workout.  As a general rule of thumb:

  • If you wake up and will be doing a short 30-minute workout or run immediately, you may not need anything to eat and may find a few sips of water is all you need.
  • If you will be doing a longer and more intense workout and it will now be several hours between when you wake up and when you finish your workout, you should eat something.
    • Carbohydrates should supply the main part of your pre-training meal. Carbohydrates found in foods such as grains, cereals, breads, fruits and veggies are quick to digest, provide energy for your working muscles and top up your blood sugar.
    • Have a small amount of protein if eating 2-4 hours before training: In order to sustain energy and fullness if for some reason you have 2-4 hours before a workout add a source of protein such as meat, poultry, seafood, nut butter, nuts, yogurt/milk, cottage cheese or eggs. Excessive amounts of protein is not ideal if you only have a short amount of time before your workout since protein is slow to digest and may feel heavy in your stomach or cause cramping or bloating.

If you are an athlete your recovery meal is the most important meal of the day!  Here are some key things to keep in mind after a workout:

  • Both carbohydrate and protein are key in the recovery nutrition meal. Better results are achieved by taking in a mix of carbohydrates with protein rather than either of these alone.
  • Timing is key. As soon as possible (ideally within 30 minutes of completing your high-intensity workout) begin refueling with a snack or meal. Consume water and food to supply fluids, electrolytes, carbohydrates and protein.


Breakfast challenge #3:

“I am time strapped and running out the door.”


If mornings are often frantic for you don’t fret you can still achieve a balanced breakfast built for speed.

Here are some “make and take” ideas you can eat at home, in the car, on the bus or once you get to work:

“Make and take” breakfast ideas:

  1. Protein Pancakes or Waffles:
  • On the weekend make a giant big batch of waffles or pancakes with added hemp hearts for protein (since 3 tablespoons contains 10 grams of protein) and refrigerate or freeze during the week.
  • Reheat in the toaster and top with peanut butter (or your favorite nut butter or cream cheese) and jam or honey.
  • Pack a fresh fruit to go.  Peel or slice an orange or grapefruit for easy eating on the go or slice kiwis in half and eat them with a serrated grapefruit spoon
  1.  Egg Muffins or Frittatas:
  • Bake a vegetable-potato frittata and refrigerate extra slices. They’re tasty hot or cold.
  • Or try muffin tin eggs, easy to make ahead at night or on the weekend: Stir together 6 beaten eggs, 1/2 cup grated cheese, 1.5 cups diced ham (optional), 3 tbsp chopped chives and 1/2 cup breadcrumbs.  Spoon into greased muffin tins and bake at 375F for 15-20 minutes.  Enjoy hot or cold.
  • Pack fresh grapes, berries or a handful of dried fruit such as figs, apricots or dates.
  1.  Mason Jar Overnight Oats or Parfaits:
  • To make overnight oats in a medium mason jar combine 1/3 cup quick oats, 3 tbsp. seeds (chia seeds, ground flax seeds or hemp hearts), 1/2 cup plain kefir or yogurt and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey.  Top the jar with 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries. Prepare a few jars at once to save time.
  • Buy or make a big batch of granola that you can top with yogurt and fresh or dried fruit and mixed chopped nuts or seeds.
  • Or try making a quinoa yogurt parfait for a different variation (cook the quinoa in milk, soy milk or almond milk and stir in nut butter).  Freeze individual portions of quinoa to thaw and serve chilled in yogurt parfaits with yogurt and fruit.


Looking for more simple meal planning tips and healthy recipes for a healthier lifestyle?

mason jar overnight oats apples cranberry cinnamon pinterest pin

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Click here to sign-up for our free weekly nutrition newsletter: Nutrition Newsletter by our Calgary Nutritionist / Online Dietitian team.

To download a free copy of Andrea’s Breakfast e-book for tips, breakfast menus and recipes visit her website page: www.healthstandnutrition.com/breakfastboosters


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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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