There is much debate about whether we should eat breakfast or not. The first thing to say is that everyone is different and while skipping breakfast may be fine for some people, it could prove detrimental to others, depending on how healthy you are.
We recommend having breakfast, particularly if your goal is to lose some weight after overindulging over the festive season! Studies have shown that eating a well-balanced breakfast decreases hunger and cravings and lowers your risk for obesity. Other studies show that people who have lost weight and regularly eat breakfast keep the weight off for longer, compared with those who lost weight and skipped breakfast. Missing breakfast has also been shown to increase your appetite at lunch time.
So, if you don’t eat a good breakfast every morning you may well end up diving head first into a tub of ice cream or cookies, or whatever your weakness is, later on in the day. Breakfast sets the tone for the day. A well-balanced breakfast, including good quality protein, healthy fats and fibre, will help balance blood sugar levels for the day ahead, which will support constant energy levels, good mood and emotions and stable weight. Including protein in your breakfast is really important as it suppresses your hunger hormone, ghrelin, keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
There are many benefits to having breakfast every day, but only if you do it right. The usual breakfast, so many of us are used to, including sugar-laden cereal with milk, or refined carbohydrates like toast, bagels, muffins and fruit juices are definitely not the best way to start the day. These quick releasing carbohydrates will spike your blood sugar causing a high. Your body then releases insulin to remove the sugar from the blood, which in turn leaves the body craving sugar and more quick releasing carbohydrates, causing a low. This cycle continues all day causing highs and lows and with it comes cravings and mood swings.
So why not give your breakfast a makeover, or if you are a breakfast skipper, try eating breakfast for a few weeks and see how you feel. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Start the day with warm water with a few slices of lemon in it. This natural flush supports digestion, healthy skin and can give a little boost to your immune system. You could add a few slices of fresh ginger for some added anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Try to eat breakfast within 1 hour of waking or as close to that as possible. This helps to keep energy levels up. Not hungry when you wake up? This could be an indication that your hormones are out of balance. The best way to support this is by eating breakfast.
- Include good quality protein with your breakfast – eggs, meat (preferably grass-fed/organic), fish (preferably wild caught and not tuna), bone broth, nuts and nut butters, seeds, protein powders (good in smoothies), dairy (if tolerated), milk alternatives such as almond, hemp or coconut milk.
- Include some good healthy fats with your breakfast – avocados, coconut oil/milk/butter/flakes, olive oil, butter, ghee, olives, nuts and seeds (be careful not to overload on these).
- Include plenty of fibre (and be sure to drink lots of water throughout the day to avoid constipation) – veggies, oats (not the instant or flavoured kind. Steel-cut or jumbo oats are slow releasing carbohydrates so should keep you feeling fuller for longer), oat bran, flax seeds, chia seeds, psyllium husk, nuts and seeds.
- Too busy or rushed in the mornings for breakfast? Prep the night before so minimum time is required in the mornings.
- Rethink what you eat for breakfast. You could eat dinner leftovers that just need a quick reheat, or a hearty bowl of soup. Include veggies to boost your veggie intake for the day.
Here are a few breakfast ideas to give you a healthy start to your day.
- Eggs – so quick and nutritious with so many options, such as scrambled, boiled, poached or an omelet with some of your favourite veggies. You can make egg muffins with veggies in advance and grab a few from the fridge in the morning.
- Grilled oily fish – mackerel, salmon, kipper or sardines with plenty of veg.
- Bircher muesli – oats, nuts, seeds, small amount of dried fruit soaked overnight in almond, coconut or hemp milk then topped with grated apple, banana or other fruit.
- Overnight oats – oats, chia seeds, nut butter, maple syrup and almond milk mixed and left overnight, then topped with berries in the morning.
- Breakfast smoothie – almond or coconut milk, nuts, seeds, veggies, berries, avocado, protein powder. Experiment and be creative. You could even prepare individual smoothie bags and store them in your freezer so all you have to do in the morning is lift a bag out and blitz it with your preferred milk!
- Don’t forget about dinner leftovers or soups which are quick to reheat in the morning if you don’t have much time.
Follow this advice and you should be feeling and performing better in no time!
By Louise McNeish