Saturday, March 6, 2010

Go-to foods: Breakfast

I'm a big believer in ritual and consistency, possibly born of my borderline OCD tendencies.  I aggressively seek ways of not making decisions in my every-day life as I feel that I've more than enough decisions to make in not-so-everyday life.  This is particularly the case when it comes to food.

I've often heard of people complaining that it's hard to stay on program because they get bored eating the same things over and over again.  When I hear this, I nod my head sympathetically and manipulate my facial muscles to express sympathy and understanding.  I can certainly understand intellectually how variety my be the spice of life for many.  I just don't relate on any kind of personal level.

I am more than happy to eat the same breakfast and lunch pretty much every day of the week.  I would have not much of a problem doing the same for dinner as well.  Case in point, I was known in my past life (read, plumper me) to buy a gigantic pizza, and then eat it for 4 to 5 days straight.  Preferably cold and hopefully not moldy.

It's not that I don't love food or that I'm afraid to try new kinds of food.  When it comes to eating, there are precious few things that I'm not willing to put into my mouth.  The list of foods that I won't eat is probably down to 2 or 3, with grapefruit still being the number one food that I really avoid (too bitter).  More the issue is that I cannot be bothered to summon the 12 IQ points necessary to make a food selection.

This makes having basic meals on program really simple (even for my little brain).  Take breakfast for example.  My approach here has been to start with some basic constructs and evolve them over time.  By way of example, here are my better breakfast software release notes:

  • Better breakfast 1.0:  Quaker flavored oatmeal, Danon fruit at the bottom yogurt, and coffee w/ sugar and 2% milk.  This wasn't a terrible version 1.0, but it clearly contained a bunch of bugs.  By way of example, standard flavored oatmeal has lots of added sugar and flavors that may or may not be natural.  I'm not puritanical about the whole organic food thing, but coughing up 3 POINTS given the volume of food didn't seem a good trade off.  
  • Better breakfast 2.0:  Quaker Weight Control oatmeal, Danon Lite yogurt.  Better, particularly since the WC oatmeal has more protein.  Still, not enough food to keep me full until lunch.
  • Better breakfast 3.0:  Quaker Weight Control oatmeal (160 cal) w/ added banana and blueberries.  Also for this release is the introduction of Chobani 0% Greek yogurt with fruit (around 140 cal).  I have become a giant Greek yogurt convert:  lots of protein and not too many calories in the 0% fat variety.  Still, I was sensing that there might be too much added sugar -- probably an extra 2 POINTS worth.
  • Better breakfast 4.0:  McCann's non-flavored instant oatmeal (100 cal) + fruit.  Fage 0% plain yogurt (90 cal) + grapes.  For this who aren't super fast with their mental POINTS calculator, my breakfast works out to about 6 POINTS.  Given that I get 31 POINTS per day (I'd prefer not to get flamed by those of you who only get 18 per day...  don't hate me just because I'm a tall guy on maintenance), this is a totally manageable total.  
Breakfast 4.0 is pretty perfect for me.  It's a ton of food without any wasted POINTS in the form of added sugar other than from the fruit.  Again, this isn't a moral judgement (I'm not one to spray paint on fur coats or picket HFCS plants), it's a purely practical one.  The reason this breakfast plucks my heartstrings is that it has been bulked up with fruit, so it is very filling.  This means that I really have no hunger-related reason to eat again before lunch.  

Now that I'm on Breakfast 4.0, I really don't foresee the need for a change in software.  Ever.  [Maybe there is a lesson for Microsoft in this somewhere.]  Therefore, the secret to my personal breakfast success has been iteration/optimization rather that constant exploration.  

I've applied the same logic to lunch and snacks, which I can share in a later post (including which Weight Watchers bars I eat and how I really feel about artificial ingredients).   

Feel free to share your own breakfast tricks.  I'm getting bored with mine.  




  1. Hmmm... I think I may give your breakfast 4.0 a try! Not sure that I have seen Fage around these parts, though!

  2. I am always envious of men because they seem to have so many more points. So I based on my 18 points, I usually have a 3 egg white omelet with spinach and feta cheese or sliced raw zucchini (or whatever veggies I have on hand) and Laughing Cow Lite on an Alternative Onion Bagel with a zesty smear of chipotle mustard for a grand total of 3 points. It keeps me happy till lunch.

  3. Interesting, my regular breakfast went through similar changes as my points went down. At first it was Dannon fruit something with granola. A lot of granola. It went to non-fat non-sugar yogurt with granola. Somewhere along the way, I decided to get more of my fruit and vegetable health checks in so replaced the "fruit" yogurt with plain yogurt and either frozen berries or a smushed up banana, and Fiber One. It's a 3 point breakfast now. Same as my weekend favorite, steel cut oats with a scrambled egg in it. Sounds yuck, but I love it! Good topic-change doesn't happen all at once, but with gradual steps over time as you figure out what you'd like and what you want to live with.

  4. My breakfast is comparable to your breakfast 4.0 because I like getting the most bang for my buck when I start the day.

    I'm not a fan of eating breakfast, but I do it everyday. And Fage yogurt and fruits are both on my short list of palatable morning foods.

  5. I quite like Weight Watchers oatmeal, particularly for the portable cup idea. My general preference is to eat breakfast at home, and the cups do not fit well into my cupboard. However, if I have to eat on the fly, I almost always have some WW Oatmeal cups in my office. Add hot water and presto!

  6. I'm a Quick Oats eater. Mainly because I'm CHEAP! A big ol' container of quick oats is only a couple of bucks and last a while. Mix 1/4cu oats with 1/2cu water and nuke for 90 seconds. Voila -- filling food real quick. About 99% of the time I add 1 Tbls of PB to the oatmeal for flavor and protein. 3pt breakfast is served! Counting and additional 2pts for the milk I put in my coffee, my breakfast is usually only 5pts every day.

    I usually save my fruits for mid-meal snacks...

  7. I'm totally with you on eating the same things! People always seem to think that means I have boring taste in food or am really fussy, when it's exactly the opposite. I'm TOTALLY unfussy and love almost everything(which I guess is why I don't care that much if my food doesn't change from day to day!)

    My breakfast is similar to yours, although like the commentor above, I use quick oats and just microwave with water for 1:20. My other trick is to stir a half cup of cottage cheese into my oatmeal. Sounds gross, but honestly, give it a try sometime!

    My favourite oatmeal combo right now is:

    - 1/3 cup oats cooked with 2/3 cup water,
    - stir in a tsp. of brown sugar,
    - a tsp. of cinnamon,
    - half a tbsp. of coconut butter
    - 1/3 c. cottage cheese
    - 1 cup blueberries (right now I use frozen), microwaved so they get all juicy
    - top with a sprinkle of dried coconut and about a tbsp of flax meal.


  8. I'm the same way with breakfast - however, I HATE eating the same lunch or dinner two times in a row. Weird, huh. For me, either a 200 cal protein bar with 20g protein or a 300 cal protein bar with 30g protein depending on when/what lunch is. It's the most filling thing I can eat (that I enjoy) with the least amount of calories that I have time for (aka, grab and go). I get my fruits in as snacks throughout the day.

  9. I like oatmeal too, with some almond butter and applesauce. I add cinnamon too. The almond butter is more "pointy" but it tastes really good and this holds me for a long time. But I do need variety. So on other days I have eggbeaters and oatmeal and applesauce without the almond butter. (gotta have protein.) About the same in points but just a little different. I do the almond one when I am short on time as it is the quickest to make.

    I also like shredded wheat with low fat milk, fruit and some scrambled egg beaters. Do you see a pattern here? I have about 3 basic breakfasts and I make some minor changes.

  10. I have a few different breakfasts-

    Breakfast Sandwich- (4)
    1 orowheat double fiber muffin
    1 slice 2% american cheese
    1 Morning Star soy sausage patty

    Baked Oatmeal- (points depend on size of squares I cut, plus any toppings I add)
    2 C Rolled oats
    2 C unsweetened Almond Breeze
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    - mix and bake in a pyrex 8x8 pan cut into squares

    Green Monster Smoothie ( I like this in the summer!) Mine comes to 4 points with the protein powder I use.
    2 C spinach
    1 C unsweetened Almond breeze
    1/2 frozen banana
    4-5 frozen strawberries
    scoop of protein powder-optional

    As I type this I am about to dig into my breakfast sandwich is my true favorite! YUM! :)

  11. I get bored easily with food. I need to mix it up regularly. A couple of my favorite breakfasts though...

    1. Steel cut oats cooked with an egg mixed in it and non fat milk. Top with blueberries.
    2. Greek yogurt or organic plain yogurt mixed with some organic canned pumpkin, slice of whole wheat toast or english muffin.

  12. Great post - very practical info.
    Looking forward to more like this!

  13. I love breakfast! It is my absolute favorite meal! Most of the time I eat plain fat-free chobani yogurt with 1/2 cup strawberries mixed in with a 1/2 cup fiber one original cereal for added crunch. I also eat a lot of different cereals (I like Kashi warm cinnamon) and sometimes substitute fat free milk with Blue Diamond almond milk (unsweetened variety) to save a point. Usually a couple hours later I eat a banana to stave off hunger til lunch time. I really like to get fruit in at breakfast time. I could go on and on about breakfast...but those are a couple of my staples.

  14. I'm on the path of pretty stinking boring. My breakfast consists of a banana and 1/2 c dry fiber one cereal (o). yayyy! hah.

    Do you eat the Fage with just grapes? I can't get past the taste! Maybe I'd like it if I mixed it with something. I tried the kind that comes with honey and I had to gag it down :/.

  15. Mr. Kirchhoff - I am a WW leader in Maine and after reading your blog I have a huge crush on you :) Just wanted you to know!

  16. I'm constantly tweaking my breakfast trying to figure out how I can stay full longer. I wake up pretty early -- I think WW should factor how many hours a day you're awake in the points quiz -- so I'm always hungry well before lunch.
    Currently its an arnolds bagel thin with 1 tbsp reduced far peanut butter, and 3/4 c. chocolate cherrios with almond milk. That's 5 points and usually helps me survive until 12:30.

    Love your blog :)

  17. I'm the same way - I eat almost the same thing for breakfast everyday (and lunch too). I also live alone so I make a recipe and eat it for dinner 4 or 5 times in a row til it's gone. I like not having to think about it. I'm allergic to eggs, so breakfast is always difficult. Mine consists of Quaker Express cup of oatmeal (apple or cinnamon bun are each 3pts), a can of V8 juice, WW yogurt, and my coffee w/ only a tbsp. of FF half n half. For lunch, it's either leftovers or a 0 or 1 pt Progresso soup and a 100-cal of pretzels and a diet coke.
    Works for me! :-)
    Also, pre-WW - I also used to order a large pizza and have it cold for breakfast, lunch and dinner for days til it was gone. Miss that really.

  18. Plain old, non-instant oatmeal cooked in the microwave doesn't take much longer than instant. I mix half a serving of Quaker multi-grain oatmeal (from the canister) with half a packet of their new True Delights Hazelnut Latte oatmeal. Now mix in some fruit, raisins, etc... I alternate among 3 different standard breakfast meals, of which oatmeal is one.

  19. WW has an iPhone app. Is a blackberry app in the works/is there any other portable electronic devices out there that keep track of points totals for the day...then you could plug them into the site via USB cord at the end of the day. That would be a great idea.

  20. HI

    Weekdays are crazy at my house (5 kids, 2 dogs and 2 horses = lots of chores) so I usually stick with some instant oatmeal. I buy lots of boxes and just mix the packets in a big Tpeerware box. Then I usually just grab a packet and pour on 1/2 cup of water. Really good and quick. On weekend I tend to eat a Fiber 1 bar on Sat. and a breakfast sandwich or breakfast buritto on Sun.

  21. Check out my blog!

  22. I've been eating 1/2C egg whites & a laughing cow swiss lite, cheese wedge sometimes I put in on a low cal english muffin. 3 pts for everything!

  23. I have been eating McCann's Irish Oatmeal for almost 2 years now for breakfast. I just change up the fruit I put in it - pears, blueberries, craisins, etc. Add to that a Fiber One Yogurt (0 points!) and a cup of tea or black coffee and it's an easy 3 point breakfast that sticks with you all morning!

  24. Breakfast sandwiches so far have been the only ones to keep me full til lunch. Currently the smart ones Canadian style bacon one. When I don't have those available I make it myself with whole wheat toast, a poached egg, slice of cheese and turkey bacon. Another breakfast choice is cream of wheat, banana and milk.

  25. I almost always eat cereal. My fav is oatmeal 1 cup is 2 pts, with some brown sugar, 1 TBS is 1 pts and about 1/2 cup 1% milk 1 pt. This is my most favorite. I also like corn flakes, with a cut up banana and milk.
    I can't stress enough how much the WW 0 point Garden Vegetable soup is so good. WW needs to push it more. I like to eat it a few times a week with a sandwich at lunch.

  26. This morning I satisfied my bagel and cream cheese passion with a Thomas' whole wheat bagel thin (1pt.) plus a serving of WW cream cheese spread (1pt.). I still have to have half and half in my coffee though (but no sugar or sweetener). So, a satisfying 4-5 pt. breakfast.

  27. As a fan of the former Core plan / now Simply Filling Technique, I am not very good at knowing or even counting points. However, I have a suggestion for you.
    Rather than instant oatmeal or oatmeal in packets, try buying your oats in bulk or in large canisters from the grocery. I buy regular, not quick, oats. I find that they are much more satisfying. Also: while the box says it takes 3-5 minutes to cook in the microwave, I find I only need 1-1:30 minutes, so it's still quite fast!

    I add cinnamon (and possibly splenda, but usually just cinnamon is good enough for me) and top with a splash of 2% milk (in weight loss, I used FF but now I am maintaining) and either add berries or plain unsweetened applesauce, or I have a piece of fruit on the side. With a small latte or a black coffee or an unsweetened iced tea, I am all set.

    On workdays, I eat the same breakfast, lunch, and snack with small variations throughout the week. It makes life a lot simpler.

  28. I am the same way - find what works and stick with it. I eat Low Sugar Oatmeal - Apples and Cinnamon (2 pts) or if I am feeling really frisky, I will have WW Cheese on 40 cal toast. I don't find that too rigid - I find it works! But, Jimmy Dean Delites of any sort will keep you full for about 5 hours, which is awesome and only 5 pts. Must try the Greek yogurt, though.

  29. I personally prefer to eat a larger breakfast a smaller dinner. I'll use a greater portion of my points on breakfast(though it has decreased as my points have)and generally have around 6-8 points for dinner. Dinner has been known to be 2 cups of cheerios and a cup of skim milk with some fruit.

  30. I have a smoothie every morning. 1 cup Dannon Light and Fit Vanilla Yogurt, 1/2 cup plain fat free soy milk, an orange, 2 cups of whatever frozen fruit I want. And I just started adding 2 tablespoons of ground flax meal to it for the Omega 3's (don't like fish enough to eat it twice week) Blend it all up in the blender. YUMMY ! and anyhwere from 5-6.5 points depending on the fruit used.

  31. As to eating the same thing every day I heard Dr. Roizen, of the Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Oz's writing partner, say on the radio one day that people who eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day are more successful than those who swap around!

  32. If you put your oatmeal in the amount of liquid called for and place it in the fridge overnight, you can microwave it quicker the next morning and it is extra creamy. Rolled oats or steel cut oats can be microwaved this way. (I prefer mine in milk).

  33. I really enjoy three breakfast options that keep me full until lunch. Generally I have these in cycles because, I too, enjoy consistency in my breakfast and lunch.

    Breakfast 1 - 1.5 cups of Multigrain Cheerios in 3/4 Cup of Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze = 3 pts.

    Breakfast 2 - 1/2 Cup of Egg Beaters, 3/4 Cups Morningstar Farms, and some peppers in a scramble over a Toasted Thomas Bagel Thin = 4 pts.

    Breakfast 3 - 6 Tbsp Egg Beaters Egg Whites, 1 oz grilled chicken breast, 1/4 Cup Salsa, and some peppers in a small La Tortilla Factory Low Carb High Fiber Tortilla = 2-3 pts.

    Breakfast #2 is my favorite of the moment. All are very filling, with #1 being the easiest "in a hurry" breakfast.

  34. I stick to no more then 3 points for a breakfast and I am full most mornings. I have an whole wheat Arnold Thins Toasted with 1/2 T of peanut butter and a T of sugar free jam. If I do get hungry before lunch I am ready with a fruit such as an apple, orange, or small banana. Could be the combo of the whole wheat and peanut butter making me fuller longer!

  35. David, I am the same way. I eat Egg Beaters, Ham and Cheese on a 1 pt English muffin everyday for breakfast. A turkey wrap, bowl of fruit, and a 100 cal snack every day for lunch. I never get bored and have lost 92 Lbs and have been @ goal for over 1 1/2 years.
    p.s. I am in the best shape of my life thanks to W.W.

  36. Loved the blog and all of these suggestions. I've been consistently eating 1/3 cup quick oats with 2/3 cup water in microwave for 2 minutes with a pinch of salt and fruit on the side. Mid morning snack after workout is chobani 0% with fruit. Full until lunch.

  37. Same breakfast every day for about 4 years, and still love it.

    1/4 cup eggbeaters topped with 1/4 fat free shredded cheese (2 pts)
    Boca sausage links (1 pt)
    Light toast or light english muffin (1 pt)
    1 cup skim milk or unsweetened soy milk (2 pts)

    Yes, it's 6 points and uses up a third of my points for the day, but it keeps me going for at least 4 hours, gets me more than half of my dairy and lots of protein. I'm happy to snack on fruit all afternoon and eat veggies for dinner to compensate :)

  38. My 2.5 point breakfast is

    Kashi Go Lean - 3/4 cup-1 pt
    Silk Vanilla Light - 1/2 cup-1 pt.
    Strawberries - 1/3 cup - 0 pts
    Coffee with 2 tbsp FF 1/2 and 1/2 - .5 pts

    I am on a 19 point day and this keeps me happy until lunch. I eat this almost every morning, switching fruit to keep it interesting. I hate eating the same thing for lunch and dinner but for breakfast...I am happy as a clam to eat this and not switch it up. I will try the McCanns Oatmeal though, just for fun. I usually have a Fiber One Yogurt (0 pts) for a snack if I get hungry.

  39. My favourite breakfast is: a half cup of Astro organic plain yogurt, a half cup of fresh blueberries, quarter-cup of Bran Buds and a half cup of 1% milk. That generally keeps me satisfied.

  40. My favorite breakfast? Quick + easy....1/2 cup Egg Beaters+1 Laughing Cow Wedge+1 Morningstar sausage patty+chopped frozen onions (or chopped frozen red peppers or fresh baby spinach, torn).
    Spray mug with PAM, cook 1 min in microwave, stir. Cook 30-45 sec. Yum. (4.5 points) have it almost everyday. Sometimes I add 1 toasted Sandwich Thin for another point. Very filling.

  41. I eat breakfast 4.0 already and i am a 18-pointer. I prefer to get my whole grains at breakfast and lunch (lunch 2.0 is a WW brown rice/butternut squash recipe) with lean meats and veggies for dinner. Sometimes i change the yogurt with a hard boiled egg.

  42. I eat breakfast every morning. I like a variety of things for breakfast. One of my favorites is whole grain waffles with cottage cheese. I love also the BREAKFAST #2 with bananas, raisens and skim milk.

  43. Irish Oatmeal is also my breakfast of choice, but i use the regular.. not the instant. I put 1/2 cup of oatmeal and 2 cups of water in a pyrex bowl and set it in my crockpot. I add 4 cups of water to the crock pot, not the oatmeal and set it to low. When I wake up in the morning, breakfast is ready for me and my husband! at only 2 points for a cup, it's a real winner.

  44. does anybody else have trouble with gas/bloating when they eat this meal? I have had a lot! Gasx seems to help. It must be the fiber

  45. I eat Chobani plain and then add my own fruit. It is half the price of Fage or Oikos which I got accustomed to when my local store had it on sale for 3 months! In the summer I get a huge serving of blackberries and a cup of yogurt and coffee. I have been eating this most mornings for the past 2 years and it has worked wonderfully well. I hve been on maintainance for over a year!

  46. The Quaker High Fiber Oatmeal (flavored) has 2 points per package, and Yoplait Light Fat Free yogurt has another 2.

  47. Regarding Blackberry apps for WW, my leader commented at this week's meeting that one is in the works.

  48. I just want you to know that I'm very disappointed that WW cancelled the meeting I have been attending for over 2 years. It was very convenient for me to attend during my lunch break. I now have the choice of leaving work early to attend a 4:00 meeting. (Seriously? who has a meeting at 4:00? Obviously people who don't work.) Or going to a 9:00 meeting on Saturday morning that almost always interferes with other things on my schedule. I have been an advocate for WW for the past 20 years and have recruited numerous members, several who are current members. So, while I appreciate the info you have provided in your blog, it doesn't substitute for a meeting. I have achieved lifetime membership (finally) and if I fail now at maintaining my weight loss, I'm blaming it on WW.

  49. I live in Ohio and I've never heard of these oatmean and yogurt!

  50. one whole egg and one egg white scrambled ..2 pt.on a 1 pt.high fiber tortilla spread with 1 pt laughing cow..and also stuff in there 2 turkey sauge patties..big breakfast for 6 points.

  51. Great breakfast for us with low points available: 1 Orowheat toaster round. After toasting remove quickly from toaster & put 1 slice f/f cheese between. This melts the cheese. Include 1 piece of fruit or WW yogurt for a 3 point breakfast. I've been having this every day for serveral months & still enjoy it.

  52. My favorite is a Fiber One English muffin (1 pt), lightly spread with a little (less than 1 tsp) of Brummel & Brown butter-like spread and 1 Weight Watchers yogurt (1 pt).

  53. I prefer regular quater oatmeal with skim milk and br. sugar every morning. It's filling and sticks with you.

  54. I wonder how many of us skipped breakfast prior to WW and never talked about being hungry. I danced around with coffee in hand in my million mile an hour job. Didn't think about eating. Didn't care about eating. Not sure I was even hungry. Now....I complain because I only get 18 points, and I have to be creative with my breakfast. How ironic that now...we are trying to find something that will fit with our points and keep us satisfied. Healthy eating takes time and energy. I am enlisted...and I am willing to take the time. Good luck to all.

  55. As an 18 point a day girl myself.... I really resent a man with a 6 point breakfast! That said, it's about a fifth of your total points and the equivalent percent is approximately 3 1/2 points for me. I have searched for the "perfect" 3 point b-fast for forever (11 years on plan) but the only one I've found that works involves eggs and is time consuming. Is the instant Irish oatmeal different than typical instant oatmeal? I find instant oatmeal to be lacking in texture. It's just "gluey" to me. Thanks in advance to anyone with a review on that.

  56. I love what David K had to say about repeat-meals. I can go for weeks eating the same breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is actually serving me well on WW, as I have now quite a few default meals on tap. As for better breakfasts, I recommend everyone use McCann's LONG-cooking steel-cut oatmeal, from the can (I too have found the cardboard-packaged one gets buggy and stale). Make a potful, then scoop out one portion every morning and reheat in the microwave with low-or-zero-point toppings of your choice. Mine are 1 tsp of golden syrup or fruit and 1/4 cup of Silk almond milk.

  57. First post, and great blog. I had a neighbor once who at the same thing for breakfast and lunch each day. It seemed strange, but has stuck with me. He was also thin while I struggled with my weight. I learned quickly on WW that you have to have a food plan before you sit down to eat and it's tough to plan on the fly for breakfast. It's early, you're hungry and usually pressed for time. Knowing what I'm going to eat in advance and having it ready to go is key for me. And having the same food every day means that I can count on getting what I need to carry me through to lunch. My current breakfast is plain Quaker Oatmeal, a banana and 24 almonds. This is an 8 point breakfast and works well for me at the moment. I do like how you've got a good balance of protein, carbs and natural sugar while getting dairy, all for 6 points, so will probably try this. I do love the health benefits of almonds though, but am frustrated how spendy they are for a full serving.

  58. On weekdays, I love the VitaTop Muffin Tops... a quick one-pointer to get my morning started... I keep in the freezer so I grab one walking out the door and by the time I get to work, it's ready for a 20 sec ride in the m'wave... loves me some muffin tops...on weekends, gimme a fake-egg omelet with salsa, low fat cheese, and some turky pepperoni and an arnold sandwich thin with a little smart balance spread... yum and filling