Pick a Healthy Breakfast

Remember how our mothers chased us to eat breakfast before we ran off to school? And note that mothers are still doing it, despite careers and busy days. It’s not surprising because breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it is important that everyone, irrespective of age, eats a healthy breakfast.

Starting your day right

After the night’s fast, a nutritious breakfast is just what the doctor ordered. Quite literally.

There are many reasons why eating a healthy breakfast is necessary:

It provides the necessary fuel for your body and brain.

A hearty breakfast helps control hunger pangs and the following urge to snack as the day proceeds.

It helps to control weight. So, if you are one of those misinformed ones, who thinks skipping the morning meal will help you reduce weight, be aware that research has shown that it has the exact opposite effect. When you skip breakfast, your body is being misled to think that there are no calories coming in and tends to conserve rather than burn calories. Studies have found that, in such a case, even consuming fewer calories during other meals STILL results in a higher BMI (Body Mass Index).

Breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism and helps you eat fewer calories during the day.

For children, breakfast is of even more importance as theirs are growing bodies with high demands for energy, both mental and physical. After a night’s rest, their ‘fuel tank’ is empty and a good, healthy breakfast is the fuel they need to deal with school and play.

Sugar and spice and all that’s nice…

That’s not what a good breakfast is made of!

A nutritious breakfast includes whole, unprocessed foods of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy. Ideally, split your breakfast plate into 3:

1/3 of protein and dairy: the building blocks of life

1/3 of fruits and vegetables: the minerals and vitamins which protect body functions and contribute to immunity

1/3 of complex carbohydrates and essential fats: these are the energy givers that will energise you through the day.

Carbohydrates: the cereal killers?

There is a marked misunderstanding of carbohydrates.

There is a gap of at least 10 to 11 hours between dinner and the next day’s breakfast. The body and the brain function when we burn glucose to release energy: this we get from carbohydrates.

At the same time, sugary, ready-made cereals and simple carbohydrates which are high on the glycemic index (GI), cause blood sugar spikes and contribute to overweight.

Quality complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are low on the GI and are slow to digest: as a result, the release of glucose into the blood is slow and steady.

Going the whole way

Processed foods, especially breakfast cereals are touted as easy-to-make and easier to eat. But they contribute very little or nothing towards nutrition and are often ’empty calories’, which contain hidden salt and unhealthy sugars.

Whole breakfast cereals, like whole wheat daliya, poha or millets, are just that- WHOLE. And wholesome too. There are many advantages to making whole grains your source of energy and including them in your breakfast:

Since they are not processed, they contain the bran, germ, and endosperm and retain all the nutrition that Mother Nature has gifted us through them.

As mentioned earlier, they are complex carbohydrates, low on the GI, and do not cause blood sugar spikes. This is a boon, especially to people suffering from diabetes.

They give you a feeling of fullness, and you are less likely to reach for that bag of chips or that bar of chocolate if they are made a part of your breakfast menu.

They are high in fibre and add bulk to stool: this is good for digestion and constipation.

They protect the heart by lowering LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels and controlling blood pressure.

They are rich in vitamins and essential minerals: their antioxidant properties are additionally beneficial to cardiovascular health and overall protection against disease.

The right breakfast cereals can make a new person out of you: one that is energetic and has the stamina to face the challenges of the day.

What to limit

There are quick-fix breakfasts that have caught the fancy of many. While it may be alright to indulge on that rare occasion, these are best avoided. Processed cereals, white bread, sugary foods like jam, pastries, and doughnuts, and processed meats like sausages and bacon, should be on the omission list. They have little nutritional value and increase the risk of chronic diseases affecting the heart, contribute to high blood sugar levels, may cause strokes and even some kinds of cancer.

Going organic

Get the best benefits from your breakfast cereals: in addition to eating whole grains, make them organic.

Organic breakfast cereals are free of chemicals. In today’s agricultural scene, whole breakfast cereals not only have all the ingredients that Mother Nature has created them with, but also some that have been added on by Man. Unfortunately, these are not welcome additions.

The indiscriminate use of chemicals in agriculture as fertilisers and pesticides causes irreparable harm to health and the environment.