Health & fitness writer Harper Reid tells us how to make the most of the morning meal.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and the food we put into our body during this meal will determine our physical and mental functioning throughout the morning. Try to make breakfast a calm and relaxed affair, full of a variety of appetising and healthy foods and drinks. Failing that, here are some foods to avoid at breakfast:
Everybody loves buttered toast with their breakfast. However, the processed flour in standard white bread is full of refined carbohydrates which quickly convert into sugars, giving you a short-lived high followed by an energy crash. The white flour refining process removes nearly all the vitamins, minerals, and nutritious fibre in the flour, leaving you with a virtually useless food substance.
Instead of white bread, try whole-grain spelt or rye bread, which have a lower glycemic index. This means energy is released into your body steadily, rather than giving you a sugar high. If you want a vegetable-based toast alternative that’s still crunchy and delicious like toast, try this cauliflower pizza crust recipe! For toppings, try some smashed avocado, sundried tomatoes, or nut butter to add important nutrients to your breakfast.
Packaged cereals often contain lots of added sugar, colourings, and preservatives. Read ingredients carefully and don’t be fooled by terms like ‘maltose,’ ‘evaporated cane juice,’ and ‘brown rice syrup,’ that really mean sugar. Choose wholegrain cereals, preferably organic and with no additives. You can even make your own cereal at home – you will know exactly what has gone into it. Instead of using cows’ milk, add soy or nut milk to cereal for added vitamins and minerals.
Pancakes and waffles
Again, these are usually made from white flour or, worse still, from a prepared packet mix. Enjoy healthier versions of these breakfast favourites by making them at home with whole wheat, oat or soy flour. Accompany them with a small fruit salad made of multi-colored fruits, rather than syrup.
The instant packet version of this breakfast staple is full of sugar and unwanted additives. Make your own with whole oats, a few raisins, cinnamon and a touch of honey – delicious, full of roughage and useable energy!
Muffins and bagels
Many store-bought baked goods are mostly sugary calories, so try to steer clear of them.
Bacon and sausages often contain harmful preservatives, additives and nitrites. Make a healthy version of this traditional breakfast staple by grilling lean back bacon, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Better still, substitute the bacon for a veggie sausage. Boil or poach eggs (a great source of protein) instead of frying them and make a vegetable-filled omelette using capsicums and onions. Omelettes look and taste delicious and are a great way to get children to eat more vegetables.
Juices and smoothies
Packaged juices usually contain lots of sugar and unwanted additives. Make your own with a juicer or blender as smoothies are a great way to get more fruit into your body. When you create your own blends and consume them immediately, you will get the full benefits of the vitamins and minerals, which quickly diminish after blending. Don’t add sugar, as fruits already contain plenty. Add unsweetened yoghurt for thickness and ground flaxseed to keep you fuller for longer, or protein powder for extra energy.
Skipping breakfast is the worst idea. Even if you are trying to lose weight, your weight loss program should always include a balanced breakfast. A breakfast filled with whole food sets you up for a productive day and helps you avoid the temptation to snack before lunch. If possible, eat lunch as your main meal and have a light, early supper. Recent studies suggest that the longer the period from supper to breakfast, the more your body is able to digest your food and get on with the important job of cell repairs.
Harper Reid is a freelance writer from Auckland, New Zealand who is passionate about fitness and healthy living. She enjoys swimming, hiking with friends and spending her quiet time on meditation or yoga. You can find more of her work on Tumblr.