The importance of breakfast

Upon waking up in the morning, it will have been at least eight hours since your last meal or snack from the day before. Your body needs to refuel blood sugar levels and help regain the energy lost during such a lengthy overnight fast. The best way to revitalize your body is with a filling and nutritious breakfast, to help you meet the demands of the hours ahead and keep you satiated until your next meal.

Our breakfast choices are very important as eat55ing an insufficient breakfast can be a detrimental as eating nothing at all. People who start the day with a cup of tea or coffee plus a sugary cereal or cereal bar, a croissant or a pastry may think that because they have eaten something, they are providing their body and brain with a good start to the day. However, they are likely to also wonder why they are still tired and hungry mid-morning.

Refined convenience foods, such as those listed above, are high in sugar and have very little nutritional value. As a result, they are digested very quickly and their glucose is released almost immediately into the bloodstream. Together with the caffeine, this causes the body’s blood sugar levels to soar and provides an instant energy boost immediately after eating. The downside of this effect is that the increase in energy levels is extremely short-lived. By the time you reach work, your body will be crying out for the next quick fix to boost energy levels and you are likely to need another caffeine fix or sugary snack to keep you going.

So what should you eat? Your breakfast should provide you with around a quarter of your daily nutrients so it’s important to get a
healthy balance from each of the food groups. Breakfast foods containing fibre-rich complex carbohydrates – such as wholemeal or granary bread – combined with a source of protein – such as eggs – will help to energise you and keep you feeling fuller for longer, meaning that you are less inclined to reach for sugary snacks mid-morning. Eggs (particularly the yolks) are also a great source of vitamins A, D, B2 and iodine. Adding vegetables such as tomatoes, lightly fried in a source of healthy fat such as olive oil or rapeseed oil, will add a further boost of nutrients, including vitamin C, folate and cancer-protective lycopene.

Other wholesome breakfast ideas include:

  • Sugar-free muesli or porridge oats sprinkled with blueberries and seeds
    Natural yoghurt served with apple, cinnamon and chopped hazelnuts
  • Reduced salt Baked Beans on wholemeal toast
  • A vegetable and ham omelette20120531-154158-800x533
  • A fruit smoothie made with fresh or frozen fruit and live yogurt
  • Tinned sardines/ mackerel on wholemeal toast
  • A grilled lean bacon and fresh tomato sandwich
  • Nut butter (including peanut, cashew, hazelnut or almond) on wholemeal toast.

Drinking a glass of fresh orange juice alongside your breakfast instead of tea of coffee will help you to absorb the iron from your food and further assist your energy levels, whereas caffeine interferes with iron absorption so should ideally be avoided around meal times.

© Sarah West Nutrition

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