Tackling Breakfast

Good morning, wonderful readers!


What comes to mind when you hear that word?

Do you immediately picture your favorite breakfast foods, or do you think more along the lines of “no time”, “too much food in the day” or “not enough points”?

Hopefully today’s article will have something of value for you no matter what that word inspires. I’m going to share some information from the Weight Watchers website about breakfast and the importance of it, we’ll take a look at the choices that I make each and every day for my own breakfast, and I’ll share a tool that Weight Watchers has to help you mix and match various foods (along with their PointsPlus values) to maximize your breakfast options while remaining within your daily points target.

What Weight Watchers Says About Breakfast

To start us off here, I wanted to share snippets from a couple of articles that I found online.

Lisa Jones wrote an article for Weight Watchers titled, “4 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight” from which I took the following:

4. You don’t eat breakfast.
Eating breakfast will make you less likely to overeat throughout the day. Research from the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks Americans who have successfully lost weight in the long term, showed that nearly all of the 3,000 people, who had lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for more than a year ate breakfast every morning.

Says Ann Yelmokas McDermott, PhD, LN, a nutrition scientist at the USDA Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University, “When you skip a meal you start setting yourself up for starvation mode. Then you start just wanting to grab anything and you lose that ability to register when you’ve had enough.”

I can definitely support this quote with what I’ve seen in myself, especially those last two sentences. When I don’t have breakfast I end up fighting the munchies all day long. I also notice that my cravings increase, which is even worse. Munchies mean I just want something to eat, usually something crunchy, while cravings mean I want something that’s usually either sweet or salty. When I have a craving I can usually put it off with just a small sample of something that has the flavor I’m looking for, and with the munchies I can usually get a small sample of the texture of flavor that I want and call it good.

When I’m craving and I’ve got the munchies, that’s when I start going for the whole container of whatever it is I’m going to eat, which means lots of sugar or lots of salt. For those of our readers who are also gamers, Munchies and Cravings are stacking, multiplicative debuffs. Do. Not. Want. Well, technically I really want, and that’s exactly what the problem is – want vs. need.

In another Weight Watchers article, What’s for Breakfast?, Nick Divito writes (quoting Milton Stokes, a Connecticut-based dietician):

Some skip breakfast to save PointsPlus® values or calories; others to save time.

But Stokes isn’t buying it. “You take time to brush your teeth, you take time to shower. Take time to eat breakfast.”

So then, what’s for breakfast?

Anything, said Stokes. “Something is always better than nothing,” he said. “If that’s a cold slice of vegetable pizza, so be it. At least it’s something.”

“There really is no definition of what breakfast should be or what it should consist of,” Stokes said. “Eat what you like. Just eat something.”

I especially liked the mention of time in this article. “I don’t have time” is one of the most common excuses that people have for not trying to lose weight, but most of us really do have the time we just aren’t using that time very wisely.

I don’t like to wake up early in the morning, so it’s easy for me to say that I don’t have time to fix myself breakfast. By the same token I could say that I don’t have time to take a shower in the morning, or I don’t have time to get dressed for work in the morning. The reality of the situation is I don’t make extra time in the mornings to fix and eat breakfast. I wake up early enough to get clean and get dressed, and then we’re out the door. I have time for those things because I made the time by setting my alarm to go off early enough to give me that time. It wouldn’t be hard for me to add on another 15 minutes to that alarm (or rather, stop hitting the snooze button so much), but I don’t do it. It’s not that I don’t have the time, it’s that I don’t take the time.

I did find a way to work around that, though. Because I won’t take the time each morning to wake up early enough to do breakfast, I keep snacks and breakfast items at work. This solution works for me because my situation allows it, and I realize that it will not work for everyone. If you can’t eat your breakfast while you’re at work then you need to make the time in the mornings by either waking up earlier (which may involve going to sleep earlier), combining breakfast with other activities (for those of you who watch/read the news), by cutting out or cutting back on other morning activities that are wants rather than needs (like standing in the shower for 10 minutes after you’re already clean).

Budgeting for Breakfast
So, as you’ve probably heard for most of your life and as you’ve just read in the section above, breakfast is a big deal when you’re trying to be healthy. Figuring out what to eat, or how much to eat can be somewhat daunting though, especially if you’re a new member and trying to figure out how to balance your points.

When you’re looking at budgeting your points for the day there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  1. Evening meals are usually the largest, taking 1/3 to 1/2 of your daily points.
  2. Midday meals are usually less than evening, but fairly comparable at 1/4 to 1/3.
  3. Always be mindful of your snacking habits.

Jenny and I have found that the best way for us to plan for our breakfast is to first plan our dinner. If you eat light for dinner and then stay up for several hours after you eat, then you’re just asking for cravings and hunger to kick your butt later that night. So we like to plan for a large dinner, a decent lunch, and then look at the remainder of our points as our breakfast and snacking budget. Since both of us work full time, sometimes our largest meal will end up being lunch since we’ll often go out to eat, and then we’ll cook a high quantity but low point dinner at home.

If you have events planned for the day, sometimes you might have to use that as the starting point for planning and fill the rest of the day in around it. For example, you might have a vendor lunch at work and you know they’re going to want to take you to the local steakhouse. In that case you’ll want to plan your lunch first and then plan other meals around it. Knowing that you might have steak for lunch, it might be a good idea to focus breakfast and/or early morning snacking with fruits and vegetables to help digest your lunch. Knowing that your lunch is likely to fill you up, you can probably skip an afternoon snack or you might want to have an extra apple or banana available just in case you do. That leaves the rest of your points for dinner and any other snacking you might do later in the evening.

My Breakfast Decisions

Jenny and I have a slightly different problem than most other members because we’re both doing Weight Watchers together. As a married couple this presents a unique challenge because while we’re both making healthy meal choices we don’t have the same amount of points each day. Right now she has 43 PointsPlus each day and I have 62.

This presents a similar problem to what the typical member faces of is having their other family members not on Weight Watchers at all, which is that they can easily feel alone in their weight loss journey because one person is eating way more than the other. The way we get around this is I usually try to eat close to the same thing that she does when we’re having a meal together and then I’ll eat extra points when we’re not eating together to make up the difference.

To make that work, I have a lot of different options for my breakfast and snacking while I’m at work. The primary goal of my breakfast and snacking is to control my hunger throughout the day, with a secondary goal of spreading out my extra points. It’s not always as simple as just eating 19 extra points during the day though, because as you can see from our post on Stepping Away From the Buffet, sometimes Jenny will have a meal that’s close to 10 points while I’m having one that’s closer to 30.

If you’re eating breakfast for the sake of controlling hunger then your best weapons are fruits and vegetables. I’m not big on veggies, so I stick to the fruits, and I prioritize them based on how filling they are, how much I like them, and how easy they are for me to eat at work while I’m actually working. So my personal fruit lineup is:

Apple = Banana > Grapes > Peach = Plum > Orange

Fruits cost 0 points, and they’re fairly filling. If one banana doesn’t fill me up, then I can easily eat a second one and not have to worry about increasing my points.

If I’m needing to eat for the sake of burning off my extra points, then I don’t want to just throw those points away on junk. I certainly can, and sometimes I’ve got a craving that just screams “CANDY BAR!!!” and I’ll occasionally indulge if I have the points. But a candy bar isn’t going to fill me up, so I have lots of other options for spending points and also controlling hunger.

  • Weight Watchers Smoothies – 2 Points
  • Weight Watchers Mini-Bars – 2 Points
  • Weight Watchers Snack bars – 3 Points
  • Weight Watchers Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal – 3 Points
  • FiberOne® Chewy Oats and Caramel bars – 4 Points
  • Wonderful® Pistachios, 1/2 cup – 5 Points
  • Total® Raisin Bran cereal w/ Whole Milk, 1 cup each – 8 Points (4 each)
  • FiberOne® Toaster Pastries – 5-6 Points each (the healthier version of Pop Tarts)

Tracker Examples, Including Breakfast

I think I’ve beat the subject of breakfast in general enough already, so let’s look at a couple of examples of how Jenny and I might plan our meals at various daily points targets. The first example is one for someone who has reached Lifetime membership, meaning they have reached their goal weight and maintained that weight for at least 6 weeks, the second will use Jenny’s daily allowance, and we’ll end with mine.

The Lifetime member, and those who have little weight to lose, have the minimum Daily Points allowance which is 29 (though it can be modified to 26 if you talk to your Leader).

Sample Budget: 29 Daily PointsPlus Target (Lifetime members)
Dinner [8 PP]:
– 5 oz BBQ Pork Chop [7 PP]
– grilled Broccoli w/ 1 tsp Olive Oil [1 PP]
– grilled Asparagus w/ 1 tsp Olive Oil [1 PP]
– grilled Pineapple [0 PP]
Lunch [12 PP]:
– 2 cups Fyn’s Chili [8 PP]
– 1/4 cup Shredded Cheese [4 PP]
Breakfast [8 PP]:
– Banana [0 PP]
– 1 cup Total Raisin Bran [4 PP]
– 1 cup Whole Milk [4 PP]
Snacking [1 PP]:
– String Cheese [1 PP]
– Apple [0 PP]
– 1 cup Grapes [0 PP]
– Orange [0 PP]

Even though the Dinner costs less points than the lunch, the grilled pineapple and veggies make it by far the most filling meal of the day since you can literally have as much of those fruits and veggies as you want to eat. The only reason there’s a points value on the veggies is because of the Olive Oil which is completely optional.

Lunch is our own recipe of Jenny’s fantastic chili, and you can click on it in the tracker list to see the recipe.

Breakfast has the same points value as dinner, but I wanted to point something out here. Eating healthy doesn’t always mean you’re focused on nothing but dull tasting foods that are always fat-free, sugar-free, etc. Even someone with the minimum number of points each day can have whole milk with their cereal. Weight Watchers is the best long term diet in the country because it doesn’t deny you the foods that you love.

Sample Budget: 43 Daily PointsPlus Target (Jenny’s example)
Dinner [20 PP]:
– Deli Club Sandwich [14 PP]
– 1 cup Mashed Potatoes [6 PP]
– mixed Fruit [0 PP]
Lunch [11 PP]:
– 2.5 cups Chinese Chicken Broccoli (no eggroll) [10 PP]
– Fortune Cookie [1 PP]
Breakfast [4 PP]:
– String Cheese [1 PP]
– WW™ Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal [3 PP]
Snacking [8 PP]:
– Jolly Ranchers x3 [2 PP]
– Dove Milk Chocolates [3 PP]
– Peppermint candy x2 [1 PP]
– WW™ Zesty Cheese Crisps [2 PP]

This example came straight from Jenny’s tracker. She works in the purchasing department and often has vendors come to visit her, so she has a candy dish on her desk. That’s a temptation that’s staring her in the face all day long. But she doesn’t let the temptation control her, she controls the temptation by using some of her points to have that candy as her snacks throughout the day.

She had a filling, but low point breakfast of oatmeal and a string cheese. It’s only 4 points, but that’s a surprisingly filling meal for such a low value.

Lunch is one of our favorites, which we get at a local Chinese Buffet. We don’t use the buffet part, we just order off of the menu which means our food is always fresh, always tasty, and we never get caught up in temptations like we would in the buffet.

Dinner was at a local grocery market’s deli that we found has surprisingly good food. The club sandwich is one of our favorites (so good!), and the potatoes didn’t have gravy on them this time because I’m a doofus and didn’t ask for it, but it worked out because she didn’t have to spend any Weekly Points to make up for it and she didn’t have to eat smaller portions of any of her food to make room either.

Sample Budget: 63 Daily PointsPlus Target (Jason’s example)
Dinner [34 PP]:
– 3 slices Pizza Hut Meat Lover’s™, medium hand-tossed [24 PP]
– 2 pieces Pizza Hut Cheese Sticks [10 PP]
Lunch [13 PP]:
– Grilled Cheese Sandwich [13 PP]
– Banana x2 [0 PP]
– Plum x2 [0 PP]
Breakfast [11 PP]:
– 2 Eggs [4 PP]
– 2 Waffles, whole wheat [2 PP]
– 1 tbsp Butter [2 PP]
– 1 tbsp Pancake Syrup [1 PP]
– 3 slices Turkey Bacon [2 PP]
Snacking [5 PP]:
– Banana [0 PP]
– WW™ Toasted Coconut Dream mini-bar [2 PP]
– WW™ Cinnamon Crumb Supreme snack bar [3 PP]

Here’s an example of my day. This one didn’t come from my tracker because I’ve sucked at tracking this year even more than I usually do, and the tracker online only lets you go back 3 months which was right in the middle of our holiday hiatus where I didn’t track at all.

Dinner is a real example, which is what I typically eat when we order pizza. Knowing me, I would probably spend some of my Weekly points allowance to have another slice or two to indulge, but I would be satisfied with what’s there and certainly could stop if I didn’t have weekly points to eat more.

Lunch is one of my specialties; I make a mean grilled cheese sandwich. That’s a lunch from my tracker last week, too. We tried two varieties of plum, one that’s tart and one that’s sweet, and I found that I definitely prefer the sweet ones. A single grilled cheese by itself isn’t very filling unless you’re using a ton of cheese, and these only use 1/4 cup, so the fruit was my filler.

Breakfast came from the Breakfast Builder Cheat Sheet that I’ll talk about in just a moment. If I were to actually take the time to do breakfast at home, then this is the kind of thing we would typically do. Snacks here are things I often have in my drawer at work. I don’t like coconut, but these mini-bars from Weight Watchers are fantastic, chocolaty goodness and I don’t even notice the coconut texture that I hate.

How big or small your breakfast is doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you do actually eat breakfast so that you’re starting your day off with energy and lowering your chance of falling victim to cravings or giving into snacking.

Breakfast Builder

In this section I’m going to share with you information from the Weight Watchers Breakfast Builder Cheat Sheet. It’s a small sample of various foods and food types and their PointsPlus values to give you an idea of how you can combine all kinds of food to make a breakfast that you can enjoy and have the points to afford.

Keep in mind the following table includes average PointsPlus (PP) values for each type of food listed. Some brands of the items may be higher or lower in PP than the average, so smart shopping can increase or decrease these values as needed.

Frozen Waffles 2 PP
Toast (1 slice) 2 PP
English Muffin 3 PP
Pancake (home-made) 3 PP
Muffin Sandwich 3 PP
Croissant 6 PP
Bagel, large 8 PP
Muffin, large 8 PP
Smoked Salmon (1 oz) 1 PP
Canadian Bacon (1 slice) 1 PP
Turkey Bacon (3 slices) 2 PP
Turkey Sausage (2 links) 2 PP
Egg 2 PP
Lean Ham (2 oz) 2 PP
Beef/Pork Sausage (1 link) 3 PP
Mushroom & Cheese omelet w/ egg whites 3 PP
Apple 0 PP
Orange 0 PP
Blueberries 0 PP
Banana 0 PP
Tomato, sliced 0 PP
Fruit Salad (canned, in juice) 3 PP
Raisins (1/4 cup) 3 PP
Fruit Smoothie (1 cup) 4 PP
Bran Flakes, plain (3/4 cup) 3 PP
Cream of Wheat (1 cup) 3 PP
Cereal Bar, fat-free 3 PP
Oatmeal, cooked (1 cup) 4 PP
Grits, corn (1 cup) 4 PP
Granola (1/2 cup) 6 PP
Instant Hot Chocolate, fat-free 1 PP
Coffee/tea w/ low-fat milk (1 cup) 1 PP
Skim Cappuccino (16 oz) 2 PP
Apple Juice (1 cup) 2 PP
Orange Juice (1 cup) 3 PP
Skim Latte (16 oz) 4 PP
Milk, fat-free (1 cup) 2 PP
Soy Milk, fat-free 2 PP
Greek Yogurt, plain nonfat (1 cup) 3 PP
Milk, low-fat/light/1% (1 cup) 3 PP
Cottage Cheese, fat free (1 cup) 3 PP
Yogurt, fat free (1 cup) 6 PP
Tomato Ketchup (1 tbsp) 0 PP
Artificial Sweetener 0 PP
Honey 1 PP
Preserves (1 tbsp) 1 PP
Pancake Syrup (1 tbsp) 1 PP
Sugar, white or brown (1 tbsp) 1 PP
Light Butter (1 tbsp) 2 PP
Peanut Butter (2 tbsp) 5 PP

This is just a quick and easy way for you to mix and match various foods to create a filling breakfast that fits within your daily points target. By no means do you have to stick to the items in this list for your breakfasts, it’s just one more tool that’s available for you to use. If you go to the link for this tool you actually have an interactive interface that you can use to select the ones you want from each category and it will total your points for you and allow you to add those points directly to your tracker.

And last but not least, I wanted to leave you with some of many recipes that you can find at weightwatchers.com to give you a little more variety for your breakfast options: 34 Weight Watchers Breakfast Recipes.


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