Is this you? Rushing out the door in the morning, you stop by the corner coffee shop to nab your caffeine fix and realize your stomach is growling. Next to the cash register, there’s a glass case full of pastries. A morning bun sounds healthy enough—or, well, at least it has the word “morning” in it.
But then by 11 a.m. you’re starving and, worse, sleepy. With hours of the work day left (and who knows what important meetings and tasks to accomplish), you’re in a tough spot. How do you regain that focus and energy you had a few hours ago?
Skip that morning bun. Sugar crashes happen after you’ve consumed a lot of refined sugar, which wreaks havoc on your blood sugar levels. A sugar crash can send your productivity into a tailspin as you become unfocused, tired, and cranky. Some people get headaches; others get super anxious. In any case, not a good weekday look.
But there is hope, even for those of you with a major morning sweet tooth. Treats made with unrefined sugars like honey and maple syrup are much easier to process and will help prevent your mid-morning energy crater. Getting plenty of fiber and protein—think nuts, oats, yogurt—will also help.
That’s good news on the weekend, too, for those of you who can’t avoid French toast on a brunch menu. Split the French toast (or pancakes, or cinnamon roll) with your pals, and order a healthier entree for yourself. And, hey, a protein-packed side of bacon every once in awhile isn’t going to kill you, and just might stave off that sugar coma.
In any case, here are some weekday versions of your favorite weekend treats.
It’s pretty easy to cut refined sugar out of French toast: swap the sugar for something like agave syrup or maple syrup (read the label to make sure you're buying the pure stuff)—like in this maple-cinnamon, blueberry-topped recipe. And for added fiber, use whole wheat bread instead of white.
Much like French toast, it’s simple to de-white-sugar pancakes by swapping refined sugars for natural syrups. However, there’s also a huge flavor opportunity here: These pumpkin pie-spiced ’cakes, for example, get much of their sweetness from mashed sweet potatoes, while this packed stack relies on peanut butter and banana.
Oatmeal seems healthy—and it is—but start adding toppings and mix-ins and it gets loaded down with sugar pretty quickly. You can sweeten things up with maple or agave syrup as mentioned above, but fruit is an even better option. Swirl in mashed berries or banana, or add chopped dried apricots, cherries, or raisins (just make sure to check for added sugar on these). Skip the cream, milk, or butter and add chopped nuts for a touch of extra protein.
Granola, what are we going to do with you? The word is practically synonymous with health food—and yet it is often laden with sugar and calories. Again, the key is maple syrup: try this crunchy, nutty version as a topping for yogurt and berries for a breakfast that will get you through the morning coma-free.