As a lover of sugary cereal, I warily accepted the challenge of eating oatmeal every day for a week, knowing I was really going to miss my Corn Pops and Coco Puffs—but if there was ever an incentive to temporarily eating a little bit healthier, getting paid would definitely do it.
Eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast every day for a week sounded daunting at first, but it ended up not being too tough at all. The key is, like many things, variety. A bowl of plain oatmeal every single day feels like a prison, but no one said the oatmeal had to be exactly the same each time.
Here are the biggest changes I saw in my week of oatmeal breakfasts, as well as what you may be able to expect if you do the same.
Benefits of Eating Oatmeal
According to the Cleveland Clinic, oatmeal is quite nutrient-dense. A single serving contains:
- 16% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin B1
- 9% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin B5
- 18% of the recommended daily amount of copper
- 10% of the recommended daily amount of iron
- 13% of the recommended daily amount of magnesium
- 64% of the recommended daily amount of manganese
- 13% of the recommended daily amount of phosphorous
- 13% of the recommended daily amount of zinc
Oatmeal has also been shown to help lower cholesterol, keep bowel movements regular (you know, if you’re one of those women who actually poops) and manage blood sugar. Thanks to the fiber content and its lower likelihood of causing your blood sugar to spike, it’s also often credited with helping people manage their appetites.
Related: Why Oatmeal Can Help You Poop
The Oatmeal I Used
Though oatmeal has a lot of health benefits, not all oatmeal is created equal. Registered dietitians recommend steel-cut oats because they have the least amount of processing and added sugars, so that’s what I went with. (The only real downside is that it takes a little bit longer to cook than, say, your instant varieties—but even then, it wasn’t like I was standing over my stove for hours).
Related: Regular Oats Vs. Steel Cut Oats: What’s the Difference?
The #1 Change I Noticed When I Ate Oatmeal Every Morning for a Week
I made my morning steel-cut oats with water and added a teensy splash of milk when they were done. On the first morning, I ate them plain, which was fine. Not amazing, but fine.
The first thing I noticed throughout the day when I compared the experience to, say, scarfing down a bowl of my beloved Cookie Crisp, was that I felt fuller for much longer. I normally eat breakfast between 8 and 9 a.m. and find myself scavenging for a snack by 10:30 a.m., but I lasted until noon on my first day before I got even the slightest hankering for anything else. What’s more, not getting hangry freed my brain up to actually focus, and I ended up more productive at work too.
As a sweet tooth, though, I needed a little something to keep my momentum going, so I topped my oatmeal with fruit and nuts for the next six days, changing it up somewhat each time. Walnuts and banana slices were one of my favorites, as were a combination of blackberries and raspberries.
Mixing it up worked even better: The added protein and fiber from the fruit and nut additions kept me feeling fuller for even longer.
Related: What Happens to Your Body If You Eat Oatmeal Every Day
What I Learned
Real talk: A lot of people assume I’m not a morning person. That’s not true. I’m just cranky until I’ve eaten. As someone prone to getting Snickers-commercial-level hangry, eating oatmeal in the morning was a game changer for my mood. (Just, you know, make sure I don’t wait too long in the morning before eating!)
My other overall biggest takeaways:
- A healthy breakfast really does help define the rest of your day. I didn’t want to believe it either, but I genuinely just felt better when I wasn’t having a sugar crash by 11 a.m. I wasn’t just cheerier, I was also less tired throughout the day. It even made my dreaded 2 p.m. client call on Monday feel less like a complete waste of my time, and honestly, that’s saying so much. So. Much.
- Mix it up. Do you know why oatmeal can get a bad rap? Because it’s boring. Fruity Pebbles are prettier and they’re delicious and fun. But you don’t have to eat your oatmeal straight. Adding fruit and nuts was a game changer, and when your fruit is ripe enough, you won’t even miss the added sugar that comes with other breakfast options.
- Take your time to make your oatmeal. Sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed in time to make the healthiest possible breakfast. If I know I won’t have time to make steel-cut oats in the future, I know that I can prep some overnight oats the night before.
- Or don’t. Are steel-cut oats the best for you? Yes. But if you’re in a hurry, a packet of instant oatmeal, provided it’s not loaded up with sugar, can get you by in a pinch. You can also make overnight oats!
Next up: Is Oatmeal Really Healthy?