I am often asked how to eat healthily when we are busy so I wanted to share some breakfast, lunch, supper and snack tips with you in a series of four posts and articles over the next four weeks, to help answer the common questions I get on this topic. This week I am starting with breakfast.
Whether or not breakfast is the most important meal of the day is a decades long debate that may never be settled but ultimately it comes down to us as individuals; our biochemistry, nutrient needs, lifestyle, activity levels, preferences, medical conditions, medication and so on; there is no one size fits all. What is important is focusing on WHAT we are eating for breakfast. 97% of us eat breakfast each morning and what we chose to eat for our first meal of the day can have a huge impact on our energy, mood, productivity and food choices for the rest of the day, as well as longer term affects.
Popular cereals, granolas, breakfast bars, pastries, and smoothies may taste good, but they are often full of sugar, with some brands providing almost our full quota of free sugars (30g/day) in just one serving! When we eat a high sugar breakfast this can spike our energy levels, making us feel great for a short period of time, but what follows is a horrible crash in energy, usually around 11am, having us reaching for the biscuit tin to pick our energy back up again and keep us going until lunch. This up and down in energy levels, or energy rollercoaster, can continue throughout the day making us crave those sugary snacks and carbohydrates to keep us going. When we are at the top of that spike in energy, we are most likely to store fat, and when we are at the bottom, it puts stress on our body’s, and affects our mood, focus, and concentration.
Ideally, we don’t want to step foot on that rollercoaster in the first place. The best way to prevent taking a ride is to have a balanced breakfast which helps to sustain our energy levels until our next meal.
We want to make sure we are including some protein and healthy fats (fish, meat, eggs, dairy, beans, pulses, lentils, nuts, seeds etc) into our breakfast as these help to keep us full until our next meal and help regulate our energy levels.
We also want to be mindful about the amount of sugar in our favourite cereals sweet breakfasts and seek out lower sugar alternatives.
Adding fruit and vegetables to our first meal of the day not only gets us one step closer to our 5-a-day but also adds important nutrients and fibre. Fibre supports our digestive health and helps to keep us full until our next meal.
For the porridge lovers out there, simply adding some nuts, seeds or nut butter to your existing oat-based breakfast may make all the difference to your energy during the morning. I always encourage my clients to experiment with different breakfasts to see what suits them best, for example, some of us feel better having a more savoury breakfast. So, I encourage you to experiment and have listed some tips and ideas below which can help us to start our day in the best way and keep our energy, mood and focus up so we are firing on all cylinders!
AT HOME BREAKFAST IDEAS
Whole jumbo oat porridge with nuts/seeds, and berries (see my recipes)
Peanut butter on wholemeal toast
Peanut butter and banana on wholemeal toast
Lizi’s low sugar granola with natural yoghurt and berries
Natural Yoghurt, berries and chia seeds.
Protein Smoothie (e.g. protein/protein powder, healthy fats, fruit (1-2 portions), vegetables, oats and milk of choice)
Vegetable Frittata (see my recipes)
Eggs on wholemeal toast with vegetables (spinach/mushrooms/tomatoes etc.)
Eggs, spinach and salmon on wholemeal toast
Avocado and pumpkin seeds on wholemeal toast
ON THE GO BREAKFAST OPTIONS
PRET A MANGER
Poached egg, mushroom and bean power pot
Mushroom tomato and cheddar omelette
Breakfast egg and tomato or breakfast egg and salmon
Porridge pot (choose the seeds topping or buy a little bag of their nuts to put on top) and a piece of fruit
Truffle Mushroom Poached Egg Pot
Smoked Salmon & Avocado Egg Pot
Halloumi & Mushroom Pot
Veggie breakfast box
Saucy beans egg pot
The Ruby Red Porridge
Porridge with blueberries, honey and toasted seeds