As a naturopath, one of the most important things I can do for your long term health is give you the tools that you need to achieve optimal health every day, so naturally the area I tend to spend the most time on is diet. The old saying of “you are what you eat” is spot on and one of the most challenging meals to get people to change is breakfast. Today I want to run over why it’s so important to eat breakfast, common breakfast mistakes, and give you some ideas for a nutritious breakfast.
So why is breakfast so important?
– You have been fasting for around 10 hours! You may think you can get away without breakfast as you’ve only been sleeping, however it’s while you sleep that the body is repairing and rebuilding from all the activities the day before and it is using the nutrients you ate from the previous day to do this. If you are not refuelling in the morning you’re starting the day on the back burner.
– You need it for energy. If you find yourself getting tired and craving chocolate in the afternoon it’s not because you have a chocolate deficiency, it’s more likely because you didn’t have breakfast. Eating a good breakfast balanced with protein, good fats and quality carbohydrates helps to sustain blood glucose levels and energy levels throughout the day.
– You need it to maintain a healthy weight. That’s right eating breakfast is important to maintain a healthy weight. We tend to find that people who don’t eat breakfast, or who eat a breakfast that is high in carbohydrates have more difficulty losing weight. There are a few possible reasons for this, the first comes down to nutrition. If you’re not getting the macro and micronutrients you need from your diet to run your body then it’s likely that some things will slow down e.g. metabolism, hormone production, energy production etc. The other issue comes back to healthy and stable blood glucose levels. If you are not eating in the morning and then getting to lunch, afternoon tea and dinner and you’re starving then you’re more likely to make poor food choices and overeat.
– It’s important for a healthy digestive system. In order for your bowels to move regularly the digestive system needs stimulation, and after they have been resting all night they need to be awoken. The simple act of eating actually stimulates the release of digestive enzymes and bile and should prompt a morning bowel movement. If you’re not eating you’re less likely to get this bowel movement, meaning yesterday’s food is sitting around for a lot longer.
What are the most common breakfast mistakes? Well we see a lot of them, the first is skipping breakfast or just having coffee for breakfast. As you can see from the above points, it’s extremely important for a healthy body. The other mistakes we commonly see are:
– Having cereal for breakfast. I know that the advertisers have told you that if you have cereal you’ll become an iron man, lose weight and concentrate better at work and school, but the reality is that most of these fall very short of what they’re promising. Cereal is high in carbohydrate, and low in good fats and protein. Many of them are also full of additives, not a great way to start the morning.
– Toast. A comforting favourite of many, however again, like cereal unless you have something such as eggs on top it’s lacking any real nutrition and is full of carbohydrates. Don’t be fooled by the added B vitamins that lure you in to thinking it’s healthier, as there are much better natural sources of these that you can have for breakfast.
– The liquid breakfast. These come in two forms, the first is the premade ones from the supermarket that have oats or something blended in to milk, with these you may as well have cereal. The second is the cheap “protein” shake from the supermarket or pharmacy. I use the word protein loosely when referring to these as this tends to be very low in comparison to the carbohydrate content.
So what should you be eating for breakfast? Well I’m glad you asked because I have a list of absolutely top notch ideas. First you should know that a good breakfast should be high in protein, include a moderate amount of good quality fat and should have a good amount of complex carbohydrates (remember that fruits and vegetables are the best carbohydrates around). I’d also like to suggest that when you get up in the morning you start your day off with a big glass of warm water or the juice of a lemon in hot water. This helps to hydrate you and is particularly good if you feel a bit queasy at the idea of breakfast. Then follow it up with one of these fantastic ideas:
– An omelette with your favourite fillings such as salmon, mushrooms and spinach.
– Porridge (oats or quinoa) made with water or full fat milk, topped with raw nuts and seeds, and a range of in season fruits.
– A high protein fruit smoothie.
– Two eggs (scrambled, poached, lightly fried or boiled) on a piece of good quality, whole grain toast, corn thins or by itself, with mushrooms, spinach, tomato or your favourite vegetables.
– Left over dinner (I know it sounds crazy but you can really have anything for breakfast).
– Baked fish and roasted vegetables.
– A home-made fruit salad with coconut yoghurt, nuts and seeds sprinkled on top.
– Zucchini fritters
– Quinoa salad with left over protein from the previous night.
– Paleo muffins naturopath naturopath naturopath naturopath naturopath naturopath nat– A fry up with bacon, eggs and tomatoes.
– A good quality muesli (there are a few out there), the best thing you can do is make your own muesli that is high in nuts and seeds, quinoa and have desiccated coconut in there. Instead of adding dried fruit, add fresh fruit on the day.
The list is endless really! The important thing is that you’re getting some good breakfast in to start your day. So now that you’ve read this, what are you having for breakfast tomorrow?