I Ate At Least One Vegetable With Breakfast Every Day And Here's What Happened

March 17, 2017
veggies breakfast
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I have to admit that I don’t always eat breakfast. Even though I write about health topics regularly—and I know how important a good morning meal is—sometimes I just want a massive cup of coffee with lots of skim milk. And that’s it. So it’s not that I've been loading up on muffins or doughnuts, it's just that I haven't been eating much of anything in the AM. As a result, I'm starving when lunchtime rolls around. I wondered if forcing myself to eat something decent earlier in the day would help me eat less later.
 
At the same time, I realized that I wasn't always eating as many veggies as I'd like to throughout the day. Sure, I was eating some, but I'm an overachiever—and the recommended guidelines now say that nine servings is best. Starting early seemed like a smart way to meet my goal.

Ashley Koff, RDN, agreed with my theory. "Ideally, you should have a nonstarchy vegetable at each meal, but having them at breakfast ensures that you're getting at least some in that day," she says. It made perfect sense to me. I tend to eat salads for lunch and protein and veggies for dinner, but I felt like eating veggies at breakfast would be a good insurance policy for those days when I might have, say, tacos for dinner instead of a chicken and veggie stir-fry. (Add more veggies to your breakfast with these two salads.)

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With all this in mind, I challenged myself: I’d eat a real breakfast every day for a month, and I’d be sure to work in at least one vegetable. 

The Experiment

mushroom
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The first day was a bit hard, simply because I don’t normally wake up hungry, and I doubt that even regular breakfast eaters crave vegetables first thing in the morning. I’m also on the run a lot, and if I’m taking something to go it’s much easier to grab a banana or an apple than a stalk of broccoli. But I do love eggs, so that morning I woke up earlier than usual and made a broccoli omelet. The next day I opted for a mushroom omelet, followed by an asparagus omelet the day after that. Pretty much anything in an omelet is yummy, so this proved to be easy enough. 

 

Soon I was doing multiple veggies in my omelet: asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, and, of course, cheese. I was assuming my cholesterol was OK and my doctor wouldn’t mind if I was averaging over a dozen eggs a week. 

Related: The 20 Highest Calcium Vegan Foods

I wanted to vary up the eggs, but I was already trying to eat low-carb and I don’t have a blender (juices were out), so I stuck with the omelets day after day. Surprisingly, because I varied the veggies I put in them, I never got bored. I did, however, start adding some spice: salsa, hot sauce, or even a little chili powder. 

The only time my hot breakfast became a problem was when I was in a rush. Not that making an omelet takes all that much time, but it takes enough. And making an omelet to go, I soon realized, is a bit messy. For those days when I knew I was taking an early train, I made hard-boiled eggs the night before and paired it with carrot sticks (the ones that are individually packaged) so it would be easy to grab on my way out the door. (If you're pressed for time, try one of these portable snacks that pair perfectly with your morning coffee.)

The Results Are In

Starting the day with a veggie omelet—or even a hard-boiled egg and carrots—really did keep me full for a while. I wasn’t starving by 10 AM, like I was before I started this experiment. I felt fine until at least noon, and when it got to lunchtime I noticed I was eating a bit less. "Veggies add bulk, but not calories, so you’re adding fiber and feeling satiated longer," says Koff. 

 

The other good part about eating veggies? I was super regular. Anyone having issues with constipation or irregularity will definitely benefit from a morning full of veggies, says Diane Henderiks, RDN, a chef and culinary nutritionist. "They add roughage, which aids gut health."

Once I started eating veggies for breakfast, I started doing other healthy things, like limiting myself to two cups of coffee and adding weights to my morning workout. It wasn’t so much that the veggies made me do these other things, but I felt healthier overall, which motivated me to stay on a healthy path throughout the day. 

At the end of the month I was pretty proud of myself, but it turns out I could have done even better. Henderiks says it’s important to vary the color of veggies on your plate. I mainly opted for green, since I love asparagus, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. While eating lots of green vegetables is hardly the worst thing you could do, Henderiks says there are benefits to branching out. Cauliflower, she points out, decreases your risk of cancer and is good for bone health.

But overall the experiment was a success, as I’m now a committed veggie breakfast eater. I feel better, I have more energy, and I start my morning with a little edge: No matter what else happens throughout the day, I’ve already had two of my nine servings of the good stuff. 

The article I Ate At Least One Vegetable With Breakfast Every Day And Here's What Happened originally appeared on Prevention.

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