We’ve all heard the saying ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’, but have you ever considered why that is?
When you eat breakfast, you are breaking the fast your body has undergone over night – hence the name. As soon as we eat in the morning the brain receives a message that the body needs to start working to digest food, which effectively wakes the system and kick starts the metabolism. If we don’t eat breakfast, due to a lack of hunger, or to try to cut down on calories, the brain doesn’t receive this message and starts to preserve energy. Consequently the metabolism slows down, resulting in less calories being burnt off during the day.
Eating a healthy breakfast also ensures blood sugar levels stay stable until its time for a mid morning snack. If we don’t eat breakfast, blood sugar levels will plummet at some point in the morning and we will likely reach for something easy and not very healthy to satisfy food and hunger cravings. These hunger cravings can also cause us to eat more than we normally would during the day.
Stable blood sugar levels also play a vital role in our mood. Eating a balanced and healthy breakfast will not only provide us with the energy we need to get through the morning, but will help keep us in a good mood as well, which is exactly what we need to get through a busy morning at work. So here my tips for a healthy breakfast.
Firstly, try and avoid cereal boxes from the cereal aisle at the supermarket. These are often highly processed and refined with lots of nutrients removed. They are high in sugar and sometimes salt and offer very low nutritional value for the energy (calories) they provide.
If you want the ease of reaching for cereal in the morning buy some whole grain oats (if you can tolerate gluten) and mix them with some berries (frozen are just as good as fresh) and some natural yoghurt. Better still, mix the oats in the yoghurt and leave them in the fridge over night. The yoghurt starts to partially digest the oats meaning more nutrients are absorbed with a lot less effort for the body. Bonus!
If you have a health food aisle at your supermarket check out other healthy cereal alternatives on offer. These will be sugar (and often gluten) free and filled with a variety of ingredients such as oats, brown rice, millet, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, dried fruit (with no added sulphites), coconut flakes, nuts and seeds.
Alternatively you can make your own cereals using a mixture of any of the above ingredients. Just get a large container and make up a mix of your favourite ingredients for ease in the mornings. You can then add natural yoghurt or almond, rice, oat, hazelnut or goat milk, or your choice of milk.
Eggs are a first class source of protein and are rich in calcium, iron, manganese, zinc and B vitamins. They are a great way to start the day. When using animal produce it is always best to opt for organic or free range which don’t contain hormones and antibiotics.
Different egg ideas include
- poached egg on whole grain toast with avocado,
- omelette made with a variety of vegetables,
- frittata with a variety of vegetables with the option to add some organic goats feta or salmon,
- scrambled, boiled…the choice is yours.
Always try to include some vegetables (leafy greens and brightly coloured) and if you want to enjoy the eggs with toast opt for multi grain, spelt, rye, sourdough or a gluten free variety. If you are time poor in the morning, boil the eggs the evening before and take them with you– there really are no excuses.
In Breakfast part two, I will cover porridge ideas, smoothies and pancakes!
When it comes to healthy eating the best thing you can do is be prepared. Make a meal plan for the week ahead, then create your shopping list. Make sure you have all the ingredients you need and put some time aside on a Sunday (or another day) to prepare what you can for the week to make things easy and quick.