“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” – and it’s true! This common saying is backed up by much research. Nutrition consultant and health writer Salma S. Khan talks to TLL about the importance of eating a healthy breakfast.
Technically we have fasted overnight while sleeping, so skipping breakfast will just add to this fasting period. Missing your morning meal has been found to disrupt blood glucose balance, consequently affecting energy levels and concentration. Studies report that, due to this disruption, those who bypass breakfast develop a higher tendency to overeat during the day, especially once lunchtime arrives. In addition, not eating a wholesome breakfast has been associated with craving unhealthy ‘treats’ for a quick fix e.g. chocolate, biscuits or a caffeinated drink.
Don’t get left behind
Stepping out of the door without breakfast may also mean that your body is playing ‘catch-up’ all day long to try to make up for not eating in the morning, so you won’t be feeling your best, leading to poor overall function.
Several studies suggest that eating a good breakfast on a regular basis leads to improved mood, better memory and good hormonal balance. The consumption of a healthy daily breakfast has also been found to boost the metabolic rate and consequently lead to efficient weight loss, as well as help to maintain a healthy weight.
What to eat?
Not only is eating breakfast important, but so is what you eat. Consuming sugary pastries and a coffee is not the best option, as unhealthy food choices have been found to upset blood glucose balance. A rapid rise in blood sugar is usually followed by a sudden slump, which often results in fatigue, poor concentration, irritability and cravings for a sugar fix.
After this overnight fast, breakfast may kick-start your energy levels if you opt for slow energy-releasing foods. So ditch the sugary cereal for a bowl of porridge which should prevent you craving unhealthy snacks. It’s best to eat breakfast within one hour of waking. Here are some brilliant breakfast choices;
Traditional breakfast porridge A bowl of porridge with milk of your choice (e.g. cow’s, almond, hemp or coconut milk), with a handful of blueberries or strawberries, along with 2 tablespoons of ground almonds or flaxseeds to provide a protein boost and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Nutty muesli A bowl of nut and seed muesli with milk and berries of your choice, or add in a chopped apple.
Overnight cold oats Soak 4 tbsp of oats in milk with 2 tbsp of ground nuts/seeds, then add in 1 ripe mashed banana for natural sweetness, with a handful of blueberries. Refrigerate overnight – you may need to add a dash of extra milk in the morning to get the consistency right.
Chia seed pudding Soak 4 tbsp of chia seeds overnight in milk or fresh juice. Add in 1 mashed banana for natural sweetness when using milk for soaking, then add some extra fruit e.g. pineapple or mango chunks. Refrigerate overnight – again you can add a little more milk or juice in the morning.
Scrambled eggs with sides 2 scrambled eggs with a few pieces of smoked salmon on a bed of watercress; add in a small avocado and 1 slice of wholemeal granary toast or 1–2 crisp breads (e.g. rye or buckwheat based).
Vegan breakfast 2 slices of wholemeal toast (you can opt for gluten-free varieties) with nut or seed butter on each slice (e.g. hazelnut butter or pumpkin seed butter). Eat with 1 piece of fruit (e.g. peach, kiwi, apple or orange).
Vegetable omelette A 2-egg vegetable omelette prepared with vegetables such as spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms or peppers, with 1 wholemeal tortilla. If you’re avoiding bread, simply add in some slices of pre-cooked potatoes.
If you’re just not a breakfast person, try to gradually get into the habit by starting your day with an easy-to-digest smoothie made with a serving of protein powder (dairy-free varieties available), 1 pear, a handful of mixed berries or spinach, and some water or milk to get the consistency right. This can even be prepared the night before and easily taken into work when on the go.
Miss Salma S. Khan, founder and director of ZingTality, is a highly qualified nutrition consultant and specialises in all matters related to nutrition