Oatmeal, or porridge, with nothing added but cinnamon. It works on a few levels:
1) I'm having breakfast, period. There was a time when I never ate breakfast. Like, ever. I don't know why. Sometimes I'd feel I wasn't hungry. Mostly it was that I chose to sleep until the last possible minute and wouldn't leave time to make or even buy anything. Once I started the weight loss journey and kept reading that people who successfully lose weight have a few things in common, one of them being that they always eat breakfast, I began to try that habit. Sometimes I'd have yogurt, or an apple with peanut butter. Fruit. Oatmeal was a go-to as well. Lately, I'd gotten out of the habit of consistently eating breakfast because I got overwhelmed at having to figure out what to eat before and after a workout. Peanut butter is a fat, and you're not supposed to consume fats for a few hours before working out. So, peanut butter became "bad" in my mind. Dairy is inflammatory, so cut back on yogurt, especially if you're about to do cardio, because who wants to be the girl who pukes in the pool? I reverted back to the habit of no breakfast at all, which left me hungrier by lunch, or consuming most of my calories at night.
2) Clean eating. Oatmeal is the epitome of "clean eating" if your definition is that nothing artificial is added, and you're eating single-ingredient meals. Can't get much cleaner than "rolled oats" as the ingredient list. I don't add the salt that they recommend putting in the water. I don't add sugar or milk or even fruit on top. I only add cinnamon for flavour. Pretty darn clean.
4) Cinnamon comes with its own benefits. Admittedly, I add the cinnamon to combat the bland taste of porridge, but it's strategic, too. It helps to regulate blood sugar levels, and the one drawback to oatmeal is that it is a carbohydrate, which gets converted into glucose. Cinnamon slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, so pairing it with a carb makes sense. And tastes good.
When I started at the Y and met with a trainer for the free consultations and orientation, she handed me a sheet of foods on the glycemic index and sternly told me what to eat and not eat. "Oatmeal. Whole grains only. Have oatmeal, but none of that instant stuff. The kind you have to cook on the stove." What, is this some sort of generational conspiracy to get me cooking? I understood the fear tactic about instant oatmeal, because what you get in the package has been processed and had a ton of sugar added. (Ever wonder why it tastes so good?). It's the whole grains that provide the benefits, and those take slightly longer to cook.
But, then, my mom showed me her trick. My made-from-scratch-is-the-only-way, gourmet-cooking, still-uses-the-same-plaid-patterned-tin-to-keep-oatmeal-in-that-my-grandpa-used mother, showed me how to make oatmeal in the microwave. With the real oats. Scary trainer never told me THAT was an option!
3/4 cup of water into a ceramic bowl. She uses a special microwave-safe pottery bowl, making the process of eating porridge into a bit of an art. Actually, that was part of the reason I stopped eating oatmeal, I think. I had a perfect bowl that I used daily. Loved it. It became my porridge bowl. Until I dropped it. Ever get devastated over something like a favourite mug or dish breaking? Yeah, I'm that person. At any rate, I heat up the water first, though you don't have to. Then stir in 1/3 cup oats. I just keep the measuring cup IN the bag. Easy-peasy. Add cinnamon to taste, and stir. And then nuke it for another minute or so.
Finding the right oats can be confusing. Steel-cut are the best, it seems. Rolled oats are still whole, but they are the most processed of the whole oats. When picking up a bag from the grocery store, I try to avoid anything with the word "quick" in it. Ultimately, though, if the only ingredient is one kind of oat, you're all good. Add whatever you like. Fruit works, as does milk (or whatever variation of non-dairy milk you like: almond, soy, etc.). My mom can NOT make it without the pinch of salt in the water, but I honestly can't taste the difference. And she needs some sort of sweetener, like brown sugar or maple syrup. I'm glad that I learned to eat it without sweetening.
So, the rest of my eating has yet to be balanced, but adding in oatmeal and cinnamon on a regular basis has, at the very least, helped me to get my days off to pretty decent starts.