I tried a science-backed eating plan tied to a better memory and longer life — and found the perfect simple breakfast

  • I recently got a chance to practice what I preach by trying out the Mediterranean diet, an evidence-based meal plan for better health.
  • The first thing I had to change was my breakfast.
  • I swapped out granola bars and other packaged desserts disguised as breakfast for a simple, cheap alternative made with just 3 ingredients.

I recently got a chance to practice what I preach. After months of writing extensively about the evidence-based health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, I hit pause on my normal eating habits and gave it a go. With a kiss goodbye to my daily flip-flop diet of salads and cookies, I embraced the idea of eating more vegetables, fat, and protein, and fewer sweets and processed foods.

Naturally, the first thing I had to change as part of my personal experiment was my first meal of the day: breakfast.

Instead of a granola bar or any of the other desserts packaged and sold as “breakfast” items in the US, I made an alternative that was equally fast, portable and cheap.

My new breakfast contains only three ingredients: berries, Greek yogurt, and a mix of nuts and oats.

My simple, cheap, and healthy breakfast creation. Erin Brodwin / Business Insider

To make it, I first spoon a hefty helping of the yogurt (I use plain, low-fat Greek yogurt because it’s high in protein and low in sugar – two important parts of the Mediterranean plan) into a bowl, then pile on a homemade mix of nuts and whole rolled oats, and top it off with frozen raspberries (they’re much cheaper than fresh ones and last longer too) and a dash of cinnamon.

Shortly after polishing off my creation and settling into a mild feeling of smugness, I realised my breakfast closely resembles a meal I first learned about from Harvard physician Monique Tello.

She uses roughly the same ingredients to make a fast, convenient meal that she can bring to work and eat at her desk. Made of berries, Icelandic-style (high protein) yogurt, plus a mix of nuts, seeds, and rolled oats, Tello’s simple breakfast is high in protein to fuel her muscles and has plenty of fibre to fill her up and regulate her digestion.

Doctor's breakfast fruit yogurt nuts
Harvard physician Monique Tello’s healthy breakfast. Monique Tello

If you’re not a fan of yogurt and berries, the nutritional profile of Tello’s and my breakfasts can be replicated in dozens of other forms. A couple of hard-boiled eggs and a piece of whole grain toast would work too; as would some turkey bacon and a whole wheat English muffin or a couple of tablespoons of no-sugar added peanut butter with sliced apples.

As long as your meal features whole grains (not refined ones) and good sources of protein, fibre, and some healthy fats, you’re good to go. The combination of ingredients should fill you up and keep you fuelled for hours.