For many people, skipping breakfast is routine. However, this practice can wreak havoc on the body at the beginning of the day.
Simple breakfast ideas for the elderly can start the day right while only a few minutes of preparation. Keep reading for healthy breakfast ideas for seniors, and the benefits of eating a well-rounded breakfast.
What Does a Healthy Senior Breakfast Include?
Senior breakfast ideas don’t have to be complicated to be nourishing! In fact, following a simple formula for breakfast can ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.
Combining the three components—proteins, quality carbohydrates, and healthy fats—can create a complete, fueling, and filling breakfast.
Proteins are crucial to maintaining, repairing, and recovering the body. Foods with protein also promote a feeling of fullness. A high-protein breakfast is extra important for those with type 2 diabetes and has been shown to help slow blood sugar spikes, even after the afternoon meal.
Eggs, in particular, contain an exceptional amount of protein. One large egg is under 100 calories yet contains 6-7 grams of protein. They can be enjoyed in many forms, from scrambled eggs to hard-boiled eggs.
Carbohydrates (commonly called “carbs”) often get a bad rap. In reality, many healthy foods fall into this category. Whole grains are a great example since they contain protein and nutrient-rich carbohydrates.
Whenever possible, opt for whole grains and fiber-filled carbohydrates. Along with proteins, fiber-rich carbs help to provide a feeling of fullness as they are digested.
If you don’t already eat a lot of whole grains, there’s no need to fear! Simply swap breakfast foods you frequently eat, such as toast or English muffins, for their whole-grain counterparts. This may not seem like a significant switch but can keep you feeling more full than foods with nutrient-poor carbohydrates, such as added sugars or refined grains.
Like carbs, fats are often villainized. However, healthy fats (the unsaturated kind) are needed as part of a healthy diet. From balancing hormones to balancing blood sugar, healthy fats have many health benefits.
Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to be especially helpful for seniors. They have been linked with benefiting brain health and reducing inflammation throughout the body.
While supplementing with omega-3s is an option, experts recommend getting your healthy fats from foods first. For example, adding a splash of nut milk or a sprinkle of nuts and seeds to your oatmeal is a great way to incorporate more healthy fats into your morning meal.
Simple & Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Seniors
Looking for easy breakfast options? As mentioned above, breakfast recipes don’t have to be hundreds of steps long to meet your nutritional needs as a senior. The following ideas are nutritious, delicious, and can be thrown together in minutes.
Protein Shake, Smoothie, or Bowl
There may not be a simpler meal idea for breakfast than a smoothie. Blending together carbs, proteins, and fats together in a smoothie can make for an easy-to-digest morning meal.
Adding protein foods or protein powder can take your smoothie or shake to the next level! Protein foods like peanut butter, Greek yogurt, or nut-based milk can easily pump up the protein in your beverage while contributing to a creamy texture. Protein powder is also an option, especially for seniors looking for added vitamins and minerals or a more shelf-stable option.
If you find smoothies too boring, try a smoothie bowl! Turn a simple smoothie into something more exciting by pouring it into a bowl and topping it with fresh fruit, nut and seed granola, or a drizzle of honey. Keep in mind that you may need to reduce the amount of liquid to make it more suitable to be eaten with a spoon.
Cottage Cheese Bowl
Cottage cheese provides plenty of protein at the beginning of the day and can be topped with many of the same toppings you would use for a smoothie bowl. Another perk of cottage cheese bowls is that they can be either sweet or savory, depending on the toppings.
Adding a dash of cinnamon or a drizzle of honey can take your cottage cheese up a notch, while savory toppings like avocados and tomatoes can create a different flavor profile altogether. Try experimenting with different types of nuts and seeds to ensure healthy fats make it into the meal.
Parfaits are the perfect, layered breakfast meal. Not only are they visually appealing, but they also naturally contain the three crucial meal components discussed above.
Using Greek yogurt as the base of your parfait will considerably increase the amount of protein in your parfait. Next, add fresh fruit for fiber and carbohydrates — berries, in particular, are thought to have added health benefits (thanks to their antioxidants). Finish your concoction off with nut and seed-based granola for some healthy fats.
As with smoothies or cottage cheese bowls, add subtle sweetness with a drizzle of honey or a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Although this breakfast has been trending among younger audiences, avocado toast is suitable for seniors, too. Avocado toast can be customized in many ways to meet the nutrient needs of older adults.
Like other breakfast options on this list, avocado toast can be sweet or savory, depending on the toppings. A base of whole-grain toast and creamy, mashed avocado provides protein, fiber, quality carbs, and healthy fats. Then, add toppings to your heart’s desire!
Popular picks include:
- Balsamic glaze
- Dried cranberries
- Feta cheese
- Hot honey
- Sesame seeds
- Smoked salmon
- Tomato slices
Overnight Oats or Oatmeal
Yet another sweet or savory breakfast option is oatmeal. Oats and oatmeal are good sources of protein. Plus, they provide quality carbs in the form of fiber to the morning meal.
To create a complete meal, top your oatmeal off with healthy fats. Creative toppings that contribute healthy fats include:
- Cheese: brie or feta
- Eggs: over-easy or hard-boiled
- Milk: especially plant-based ones like soy milk
- Nuts or nut butters: pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, or almond butter
- Seeds: chia seeds, sunflower seeds, or hemp seeds
Vegetable Hash Skillet
A vegetable hash skillet is a savory favorite among many seniors. Some people affectionately refer to it as a “kitchen sink” skillet, since it works with almost any vegetable, type, or protein you have on hand.
Try a variety of vegetables out, including:
- Bell peppers
- Leafy greens, such as kale or spinach
- Sweet potato
If you struggle to find high-protein veggies, add a scrambled or fried egg to your skillet. Many legumes—like lentils, chickpeas, or black beans—can also mix easily into this dish. Don’t forget that animal-based proteins are also an option, with chorizo, ground turkey, and chicken sausage ranking as favorites.
Additionally, increase the amount of healthy fat in your dish using heart-healthy fats like olive oil instead of butter. Seasonings such as herbs and spices also work well if you’re watching your salt intake.
If the above options don’t seem appealing in the slightest, meal delivery is also a possibility. Meal plans are a great option for seniors short on time, or older adults limited in mobility.
When looking for a good fit, consider breakfast options designed to meet elderly nutrition needs—like Silver Cuisine’s balanced breakfasts!
Benefits of Eating a Healthy Breakfast
As you’ve probably already heard, breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. It comes with significant health benefits, and can truly start your day on the right note. Here are the top benefits for seniors who eat breakfast.
Energy for the AM
Since breakfast helps to begin the day, it’s a key part of getting your energy going. The energy used to fuel the body comes from food, and making smart choices means your giving your body premium fuel for energy.
Instead of caffeine or quickly absorbed simple sugars, choose energy-sustaining choices like fiber and protein-rich oatmeal.
Balanced Blood Sugar Levels
While you sleep at night, your blood sugar dips. Eating breakfast can cause a healthy rise in blood sugar that ultimately helps to balance blood sugars by mid-day. It may also contribute to steadier blood sugar levels throughout the day.
A Feeling of Fullness
As mentioned above, components of a healthy breakfast can contribute to a feeling of fullness. Namely, fiber, protein, and healthy fats take longer to digest.
This means that the body can sustain a feeling of fullness between meals, which is especially helpful for seniors trying to curb cravings.
The Bottom Line on Senior Breakfast Ideas
Breakfast doesn’t have to be boring to be healthy. Many healthy breakfast ideas for seniors can be customized, including sweet and savory options. Use a simple formula to combine healthy fats, proteins, and fiber-rich carbs that keep you feeling full until lunch!
Milfino A, Gioia G, Fanelli FR, Muscaritoli M. The Role for Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acids Supplementation in Older Adults. Nutrients. 2014;6(10):4058-4072.
Park YM, Heden TD, Liu Y, Nyhoff LM, Thyfault JP, et al. A High-Protein Breakfast Induces Greater Insulin and Glucose-Dependent Insulinotropic Peptide Responses to a Subsequent Lunch Meal in Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes. J Nutr. 2015;145(3):452-458.
U.S. Department of Agriculture. Egg, whole, raw, fresh. Fdc.nal.usda.gov. Published April 2019.