Have you woken up to the benefits of breakfast? Despite being hailed as the most important meal of the day, I’m still shocked at the significant number of people that end up skipping. So is there really science behind the breakfast health hype? And more importantly how can you best adopt this healthy habit for life? Let’s take a closer look:
After 8 or more hours without food, your body and mind needs a boost of fuel to get going again. How can you expect to power walk to work or pow wow in the boardroom without any fuel until lunchtime? A breakfast that includes nutritious carbohydrates, can set you up with a sustained release of energy, a positive mood and enhanced mental and physical performance. Studies show breakfast can improve alertness, concentration and memory and is particularly important for school children. With research showing that as many as 1 in 4 children go to school hungry, a significant number are skipping out on the key benefits of breakfast on cognitive performance. Lower sugar, fortified whole grain cereals with reduced fat milk are a convenient choice for school kids, providing energy giving carbohydrates and an essential, daily vitamin and mineral boost. Keep in mind that adding 1 teaspoons of sugar (4-5g) or honey may be the ticket to help plain, wholegrain cereals go down. And this is significantly less than the 12g of sugar per serve in many pre-sweetened kid targeted cereals.
Ample research has also dispelled the myth that skipping breakfast helps you stay in shape. And you don’t have to stick to grapefruit. Breakfast eaters are more likely to be of a healthy weight compared to non-breakfast eaters, reach their daily nutrient targets and make wise food choices throughout the day. You see when you skip breakfast, ravenous hunger mid-morning can lead to overeating and poor snack choices – like ordering that jumbo choc chip muffin when you were only popping out for a skinny latte. Research from the The National Weight Control Registry in the US shows the majority of people who have lost weight and kept it off successfully, eat breakfast everyday of the week.
Just remember that you can eat too much of a healthy food. It’s a smart strategy to keep a measuring cup in your breakfast cereal canister so you are not tempted to pour a huge serve. Be especially careful with muesli. As most types of muesli have added dried fruit, nuts and seeds, their kilojoule count is much higher than many flaked cereals. So make sure you stick to the recommended serve size and add fresh fruit plus low fat yogurt to boost protein content and arrive at a hunger busting bowl full, without blowing out your daily calorie / kilojoule allowance.
The Breakfast Club
If you’ve been a breakfast skipper for years it will take time to get back in the habit. Why not commit to a 6 week breakfast wake up plan and join the breakfast club for good? Check out our top tips for when you are…..
Far too rushed
- Prep the night before and layout breakfast items or mix up Bircher muesli of oats, fresh fruit and probiotic yogurt and store in the fridge.
- Try a fruit smoothie or yogurt drink on the go.
- Keep a supply of portable breakfast items in your gym bag, handbag or glove box like wholegrain bars or fruit snack tubs.
- Time your evening meal earlier, leave the table just satisfied not too full and make a no snack rule after 7pm.
- Start the day with an early walk or workout to build an appetite.
- Begin your new routine with a small piece of fresh fruit for breakfast. Then for morning tea try a piece of wholegrain toast with a cuppa. Slowly increase the size of your breakfast meal over time.
- Try steaming oatmeal or porridge with low glycemic index whole grain oats for sustained energy release.
- Go for a poached egg on wholegrain toast to boost your protein intake. Higher protein intake, along with dietary fibre, can help you feel fuller for longer or increase your appetite satisfaction, stretching the time until you next reach for a snack.
- Take time to enjoy breakfast over a lazy Sunday brunch of blueberry pancakes. In today’s fast paced world, weekend breakfasts can be a great way to regroup and eat as a family.
Dietitians top pick?
When it comes to a top breakfast pick, you’ll find that many dietitians love their oatmeal or porridge. Traditional oats are low in salt and sugar, plus they have a low glycemic index that will provide a sustained release of energy right through to lunch. But it’s the special cholesterol lowering soluble fibre in oats called beta-glucan, which really turns this traditional food functional. Instant or quick oats sachets are still an ok choice, just keep in mind that their glycemic index (GI) is higher due to processing and most have around 2 teaspoons of added sugar. And it now seems that the food industry is waking up too. Since 2008 Starbucks has served hot oatmeal in US stores and McDonalds has recently announced that it is trialing oatmeal in select US stores. The McDonalds maple brown sugar oatmeal, which sells for USD$1.99, is topped with apples, raisins and cranberries and “blended with cream”. Love to know if my RD colleagues have tried it and reviewed the nutrition info? How about you? What do you love about breakfast? What’s your top, topping for porridge or oatmeal? Love to hear your breakfast tips and questions below.