It's pretty much common knowledge that if you are wanting to start off your day with a healthy breakfast, you should always consider including oatmeal as a part of a well-rounded, balanced breakfast.
Unfortunately, this couldn't be further from the truth (yet another like we've been fed over the years *cue eye roll*).
Oats, like other grains, contain compounds called anti-nutrients that are inflammatory, increase your chances of developing a leaky gut, and/or can feed the "bad" gut bacteria, further exacerbating an imbalance in gut bacteria. Plus, when you add in the fact that most oat based products on the market are "quick oat" varieties, which is code for processed, it's a lose-lose situation. And yes, this also includes the steel cut oat varieties as well. Fun fact: they're actually not that much better for you in my opinion.
Why has oatmeal been touted as the healthiest food on the planet for anyone wanting to go on a diet? Simple. It's low-fat and relatively low in everything else except for carbohydrates.
Think about it - the package of any oat based product is constantly proclaiming that it is heart healthy because it is low in fat (which we know now is BS), as well as even healthier because it is loaded with fiber and nutrients. These are typically the two reasons why people refuse to give up their oatmeal (or grain consumption in general).
Well unfortunately, oatmeal is one of the least healthy sources of fiber in our diet and the nutrients found in oatmeal are typically fake and added in after the fact.
Firstly, the fiber found in whole or refined grains, including oatmeal, is nowhere near as nutrient dense as the fiber found in fruits and vegetables. Period. End of story. No matter how many grams of fiber those Fiber One oat bars claim to have, it will never match the whole, natural fiber found in fruits and vegetables. It's that simple.
Second, the nutrients natural to the oats themselves aren't able to be utilized by the body because they are bound up with the anti-nutrients in the oats that aren't able to be digested. If the oats can be digested properly, neither can the nutrients be absorbed. Plus, these anti-nutrients can tear up your gut making you unable to digest and assimilate nutrients from other foods as well. Not cool.
I mentioned earlier that oats don't have much of anything except carbohydrates. Given what we know about carbs and their impact on blood sugar (read more here), I can't think of a worse way than to start off your day with a carb bomb of oatmeal, which is usually paired with some sort of fruit, juice, and brown sugar on top. Carb. Carb. CARB.
What does this do? It sets our blood sugar up for a roller coaster of a day with dips and spikes, wrecking havoc on your energy and mood as well. First you're energized, but then just an hour or so later, you can barely keep your eyes open. So you reach for coffee and another carb-loaded snack to keep you going until lunch and the cycle begins again.
What can we do instead? First off, if you are having a oat/grain based breakfast each morning, consider switching it out for one that is higher in protein and fat. Examples include eggs and bacon, a 3-4 egg omelet with veggies and avocado, or a sausage hash with peppers and potatoes. You might be surprised at what a difference switching up your breakfast can do for your energy throughout the day!
Second, see where else you are turning to oat or grain based products (bread, crackers, baked goods, etc). Consider swapping them out for other healthier options:
-Swap bread for homemade bread made from almond, coconut, or cassava flour
-Swap regular crackers with those from Simple Mills, which are made with almond flour
-Swap pasta with zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash
-Swap regular baked goods with those made with coconut, almond, or cassava flour
It's much easier to go grain free these days, certainly easier than it was for me just a few years ago! Replace those carbs with more nutrient-dense options (protein, fat, and veggies!), and you won't be sorry!