When I was in my teens, the thought of eating first thing in the morning turned my stomach. I had a very uneasy tummy and sometimes even got sick.
As the nervous belly faded, I got in the habit of getting ravenous before noon, and eating whatever sugary, delicious baked good came my way. Muffins, cinnamon buns and even brownies were consumed. In those days, I didn’t even consider sugar and calories. I carried on those bad habits into university, adding a double-double to the mix. Somewhere along the line, probably only within the last five years – around the time I started dabbling in running – I changed.
I got so excited about breakfast, that I fell asleep at night dreaming about what I would eat the next morning. Something tasty, and yes, healthy.
I used to love getting those little packets of instant oatmeal, but soon realized making a quick pot of plain oatmeal on the stove (or in the microwave) doesn’t take long. It’s also lower in sugar and since it is processed less, has a lower glycemic index, which means the carbs turn into sugar less quickly and makes you feel full longer.
Measure out 1/3 cup of Quaker Quick Oats, add it to 2/3 cup of boiling water, and you’ve got a steaming bowl of delicious, high-fibre oatmeal in minutes. It’s only 120 calories! (Way less than the average sugar and sodium-packed bowl of packaged cereal)
But wait, how do you make it taste good? My favourite part.
First, add fruit. I like a berry blend like strawberries and blueberries, or perhaps banana or cut-up apple. The warm oatmeal slightly cooks the fruit when you add it in. Or, you can add in dried fruit such as raisins, dried blueberries or dried cherries.
Then, add nuts, such as chopped almonds or walnuts, and a dash of cinnamon.
Another recent addition to my loaded oatmeal bowl is a teaspoon of Holy Crap cereal. It adds another 65 calories but it’s full of more goodness, including chia seeds (good for runners!), hemp hearts and buckwheat – all slow-burning fuel.
I top off the bowl with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. It’s heaven, all for under 300 calories, still way less than the average baked good at my favourite coffee places. It’s all natural and it keeps me satisfied.
Other favourite breakfasts:
– English muffin toasted with natural peanut or almond butter
– Smoothie with Greek yogurt, banana, frozen berries, and if I have it, a splash of mango or orange juice. Sometimes I get crazy and add spinach (you can’t even taste it!)
– One scrambled egg and salsa with one slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter on it.
– Bowl of Cheerios or Raisin Bran with skim milk with fruit on the side
– Whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter, banana, nuts, dried fruit and honey inside
All served with a great big mug of steaming coffee and skim milk.
I consider most of these breakfasts to be great recovery foods after a morning run. Running experts agree that recovery foods should include healthy carbs as well as protein to restore glycogen or energy stores after a hard run.
I personally couldn’t stomach a breakfast like one of these before a run, but tiny portion of fast-burning carbs – a small slice of bread with peanut butter, or half a banana – works for me, as long as I give myself at least 30 minutes to digest with some water.
On Sunday, I had my longest run so far in 2013 at 12 km.
I was running late before the run, so I quickly ate about 1/4 cup of multi-grain Cheerios with a splash of milk, and one date. (I know, dates sound and look gross, but they’re actually delicious, like candy.)
I drank a big gulp of water and headed out the door. Usually I need to give myself more time to digest, but I had no stomach issues along the way.
The run was great. It was a quiet Sunday morning after Daylight Savings. The world wasn’t awake yet. It was cold but peaceful. The sidewalks were clear. My body carried me home.
After the run? It had to be oatmeal.