Everyone knows that breakfast is important: it gives you energy, helps you maintain a regular eating and weight schedule, and is just a good way to start the day. Unfortunately, so many people let the meal go by so often that when they do remember to eat it, they make some pretty terrible choices. There are loads of popular breakfast foods out there that should never pass your lips, regardless of how hungry or rushed you might be. The hectic schedule of college life isn’t a good excuse, either: like it or not, there are some breakfast items it’s time to avoid.
I know what you’re thinking: “Raisin Bran? But it’s got raisins! And bran! It has to be good!” Yes, it has those things, but it also packs a wallop of sugar on the dried fruit, making it bad for your teeth and body. One cup of the stuff (without milk) has 17 grams of sugar — more than half a Snickers bar — plus high fructose corn syrup. Sugar’s the fourth most-common ingredient in the cereal after wheat, raisins, and bran. You’re much better off scouting out a low-sugar alternative or organic variety that’s easier on your system.
PopTarts are practically a food group for teens and college students: just pop an untoasted, frosted treat into your bag and head to class. They’re popular because they’re portable. You can eat ’em pretty much anywhere. However, they’re downright horrible for you, and if you scarf enough of them, your body will start to hate you. For instance, a frosted strawberry PopTart — just one, mind you — has 200 calories, 16 grams of sugar, and 170 milligrams of sodium. It’s basically a sugar-salt bomb waiting to coat your teeth and stomach lining. Low in vitamins, high in bad stuff.
Actual coffee — black, few sugars or milk, etc. — isn’t that bad, though the caffeine dependency you’ll develop with regular imbibing isn’t pretty. But no one drinks straight coffee anymore. It’s always a complicated mixed drink from Starbucks or similar outfits. And those drinks can be really tasty, but they’re also pretty rotten for you. A grande (16 oz.) caffe mocha from Starbucks will hit you with 330 calories and 33 grams of sugar, which is way more than you should be taking in with one drink serving. Warm and delicious, yes, but you’ll pay with your figure.
Commercials for frozen waffles that portray them as part of a balanced breakfast always set them next to something like 17 apples and a colon cleanse. There’s a reason for that. A pair of frozen waffles usually has about 190 calories and 430 milligrams of sodium, plus some significant carbs. And all that’s without butter or any other toppings, which torpedo any hopes of pretending waffles are a healthy kick-start for your morning. Your stomach and hips will not be pleased.
Bagels: the deceptive breakfast item. People think bagels are OK because they’re bread, and regular bread has to be better than donuts, right? Wrong. Plain, extra-thin bagels with nothing on them are acceptable breakfast items, but once you start playing around with ingredients and toppings, you’re in trouble. A cinnamon raisin bagel is almost 300 calories and 13 grams of sugar, plus more than 60 grams of carbs. And again, that’s without any cream cheese or other spreads. Don’t fool yourself into thinking all bagels are the same, or that they’re all a healthy choice.
If this were a perfect world, bacon would be abundant and healthy. Alas, that’s not the case. It might not be the worst thing for you to eat in the morning, but it’s far from the best. A typical three-slice serving has more than 100 calories and 430 milligrams of sodium, so you’re essentially beginning your day with a blast of salty grease. And if you wrap up the bacon in a breakfast burrito, forget it. You’ll be in the gym forever.
So moist and tasty; so fresh and fruity; so terrible for you. Breakfast is a good time to get some energy for the day, but muffins are usually a way to put your body back to sleep. To take a popular example, a blueberry muffin from Otis Spunkmeyer has 400 calories, 480 milligrams of sodium, and 32 grams of sugar. That’s per muffin, and that is ridiculous. If you want some blueberries, have some. They’re good for you, and your body will thank you. But don’t have them like this.
Donuts are in no way good for your body. Even the plain glazed ones, which are pretty standard in shops and offices nationwide, tend to bring 260 calories and 12 grams of sugar. And that’s your baseline donut. Upgrade to a chocolate frosted one and you’re looking at more sugar, carbs, calories, sodium, etc. You’re adding chemicals to your body in great quantities than is recommended, and you’ll wind up just gaining weight. Don’t pretend that ingredients like blueberries make them better, either: Dunkin’ Donuts’ blueberry crumb donut has an insane 500 calories 52 grams of sugar in just one donut. No one but your dentist will thank you.
You’d be better off just punching yourself in the head, or having a flock of birds attack you, than shovel a serving of hash browns into your body. A single 6-ounce serving contains more than 400 calories, 31 grams of fat, and more than 1,000 milligrams of sodium. That’s half the recommended daily allowance of fat and sodium, right there, in one greasy little patty. You’re basically shooting any chance of eating healthy the rest of the day.
“Not pancakes, too!” Yes, pancakes, too. Made with the right ingredients and served with healthy toppings and sides, you can make an argument for them. But most of the time, a two-jack stack with butter and syrup will have 520 calories, 90 grams of carbs, more than 1,100 milligrams of sodium, and almost one-fifth of your daily cholesterol allowance. Mmm. Pancakes are a classic breakfast staple, but so are the other items on this list. So what do you do, throw them all out? Yes and no. Avoid the bad options and easy mistakes, and try to select smart configurations (no cream cheese on the bagel, etc.) for the others. You’re going to need your body for the rest of your life. Might as well start treating it right. If you make it to 90, go hog wild.