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Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Seniors (and Why the First Meal Matters)

Sep 7th 2020

Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Seniors (and Why the First Meal Matters)

Many older adults notice their appetites shrinking over time, which means healthy, nutritious breakfast ideas for seniors are even more critical. The debate about the importance of breakfast has raged for years, but today we know that there’s no simple answer. The best option for you depends on your body’s needs and your health goals. However, studies reveal that for most people, there are more benefits from eating breakfast than from skipping it. And for older adults, this is especially true. So we’ve outlined the most important breakfast benefits for seniors and provided some healthy breakfast ideas to get you started.

Pack More Fiber and Nutrients into Your Day with a Healthy Breakfast

As we’ve already mentioned, many older adults tend to eat smaller portions at meal time. It’s the body’s response to changes in activity level and a slowing metabolism. In many ways, it’s a good thing. But it also makes it more challenging to achieve your daily nutritional goals. In other words, eating less food overall means the food you do eat must have more fiber and nutrients to keep you from being deficient and to prevent disease.

This is where those healthy breakfast ideas come in. If you skip breakfast and don’t make up for it in healthy ways throughout the day, then you’re slashing vital nutrition from your diet. Healthy breakfast eaters get more vitamins, nutrients, and fiber on a daily basis.

For more information, check out our article, Proactive Health: How Daily Nutritional Needs Change with Age.

Breakfast Lowers Diabetes Risk

Studies have shown that skipping breakfast increases your risk of diabetes, even if you skip it only occasionally. Breaking the overnight fast soon after waking can help stabilize blood sugars, preventing the drops and spikes in glucose levels that have been linked to insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. In other words, to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, you want consistency in glucose levels, small variations, not large fluctuations.

During the night, your blood sugar levels fall. This is normal and not a problem since you’re inactive and off in dream world. But as you begin your day and skip breakfast, those levels dip lower. When you do finally eat toward lunch time, there’s a huge spike in blood sugar levels – especially if you eat sugar or processed carbohydrates. When this happens, glucose levels remain unstable throughout the day – which, over time, raises your risk of Type 2 diabetes.

On the other hand, if you incorporate some healthy breakfast ideas into your day, the high-fiber, protein-rich, lower-fat meal will raise your glucose levels appropriately. Typically, this stability will continue throughout the day and lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes (unless you skip another meal or indulge in lots of sugar or processed carbs).

Eating Breakfast Curbs Unhealthy Food Cravings

Have you ever skipped breakfast and become so ravenously hungry before lunch that you’re willing to lower your standards and eat whatever is available? Or maybe you begin craving less-than-healthy foods like chips, candy bars, or other highly processed carbs? No need to feel ashamed: this is the effect of dropping glucose levels. When you skip a nutritious breakfast, your body begins screaming for a quick fix – easy-to-digest sugar and carbs to stabilize blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, the quick fix isn’t the best option. In fact, it will continue the vicious cycle of dramatically fluctuating glucose levels.

The good news, however, is that when you incorporate healthy breakfast ideas into your daily menu, those unhealthy food cravings subside. Your body has been satisfied by the fiber and nutrition you’ve provided to keep glucose levels stable. This makes it much easier to make healthier food choices throughout the day. So, if you’re trying to lose weight, this is one way a healthy breakfast can help you in your quest to shed pounds.

5 Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Seniors

If you’re “not a breakfast person,” choose the two or three healthy breakfast ideas that are most appetizing to you and rotate them throughout the week. For those of you who are die-hard breakfast fans, consider swapping out some of your unhealthier selections for these healthier and more nutrient-rich options:

A healthy bowl of oatmeal topped with nuts, blueberries, and banana slices1. Oatmeal for Fiber

As we age, our digestive systems become more sluggish, making us more prone to constipation, diverticular diseases, and other bowel disorders. Fiber not only helps cure these ills, it also aids in lowering cholesterol and regulating blood sugar. Oatmeal is packed with fiber, helps you feel full, and is easy on your wallet, making it one of the top healthy breakfast ideas for seniors – or anyone.

If you’re looking for oatmeal recipes to inspire your morning meal, check these out:

19 Healthy and Heart Oatmeal Recipes

The 50 Best Oatmeal Recipes on the Planet

2. Eggs for Protein and Vitamin D

Eggs are even better than oatmeal when it comes to an easy breakfast – and they’re packed with lean protein. 1 large egg (hard boiled) contains about 78 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 6 grams of protein. The higher protein content (high compared to the number of calories) means you’ll feel fuller longer. Since we need more protein to retain muscle mass as we age, eggs are one of the most important healthy breakfast ideas to incorporate into your day. Pair your eggs with whole wheat toast, oatmeal, or fruit for added nutrition.

For more on the benefits of protein, check out our article How Much Protein Do I Need? 10 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough.

Additionally, seniors are often low in Vitamin D, which is important for the proper absorption of calcium. Eggs give you the vitamin D boost you need to help prevent osteoporosis.

For some simple and tasty egg recipes to boost your breakfast protein, follow these links:

Quick and Easy Breakfast Recipes

15 Healthy Egg Recipes

3. Fruit Smoothies for Convenient Nutrition

You can go crazy with this one, because there are tons of healthy breakfast ideas for smoothies. Just be sure to avoid fruit juices and added sugar when preparing your nutrient-packed breakfast. You’ll love smoothies because they’re easy to make, easy on digestion, and can be enjoyed on the go. You can also pack lots of nutritional value into them.

For the most benefit, be sure your smoothies include:

  • Low-sugar protein powder
  • Plain or low-sugar yogurt (if not using protein powder)
  • Regular or dairy-free milk (if not using yogurt)
  • 1-2 servings of fruit (max)
  • Greenery to taste (baby spinach, kale, zucchini)

For specific recipes to inspire your breakfast smoothies, check out these links:

20 High-Protein Smoothies that Will Keep You Fueled for Hours

Green Protein Power Breakfast Smoothie

A bowl of yogurt topped with nuts, blueberries, and raspberry4. Yogurt for Probiotics and Protein

If you like yogurt be sure to give it center stage in your weekly breakfast planning. It’s a healthy breakfast idea that can be enjoyed in smoothies (above), added to breakfast recipes, or enjoyed with fruit and other nutritious sides. Remember to opt for low-sugar, low-fat options. Most of the yogurt available on your grocer’s shelf is loaded with sugar! An alternative is to buy plain yogurt and sweeten it yourself with some fruit, stevia, or a little honey.

If you’re a fan of yogurt you should know that it also has the added benefit in that it can be used in smoothies instead of protein powder. You’ll get the positives of additional protein (especially if you choose Greek yogurt), as well as a probiotic boost. Probiotics keep your digestive tract balanced and healthy. For more information about probiotics, read our article, How to Reap the Benefits of Probiotics that Target Your Symptoms.

Meanwhile, check out these yogurt bowl recipes:

Greek Yogurt Breakfast Bowls with Toppings

Easy Yogurt Bowls for Breakfast – 8 different ideas!

5. Potatoes for Potassium

Did you know that a potato contains more potassium than a banana? In fact, a potato has about a quarter of the potassium seniors needs each day. Why potassium? It plays an important role in water absorption and lowering blood pressure. Just be sure you’re implementing healthy breakfast ideas instead eating things like processed, fried hash browns. You can keep it healthy and simple by sautéing sliced or cubed potatoes in olive oil along with some fresh veggies.

If you’re interested in more breakfast potatoes recipes, here you go:

Healthy Breakfast Potatoes Recipes

Potato and Cheese Omelet

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