Breakfast – What is Good Enough?
Often during busy mornings, we keep breakfast as the last in the priority list, often skipping it. But, taking out some time to have something in the morning can make a huge difference. The body and the brain need fuel after an overnight fast and breakfast provide the essential fuel. In fact, that’s where the name breakfast comes from – breaking the fast! Breakfast provides us with many health benefits and should be eaten within an hour of waking up. Healthy breakfast is more likely to reduce untimely food cravings, hunger pangs, lethargy and sugar cravings. Skipping breakfast leads to irritability, drowsiness and decreased attention.
Breakfast should be a balanced meal. It should consist of all the important nutrients. Breakfast should not only provide us with energy but it should also consist of nutrients such as calcium, iron, B vitamins as well as protein and fibre.
Breakfast has many health benefits. It can improve behavior in children according to some studies. Some other studies have shown that breakfast improves the cognitive function, memory and concentration levels and makes us happier by lowering the stress hormone cortisol. According to many studies conducted there are other long-term health benefits like reduced chances of obesity, high blood pressure, heart diseases and diabetes in those who eat breakfast regularly. Breakfast has always been an integral part of any Child Nutrition Program, Sports Nutrition program, Corporate Wellness Program etc. but it must be balanced and customized for each person.
What should a typical healthy balanced breakfast consist of?
A breakfast should be nutrient rich and balanced. Breakfast need not be quantitatively large but it should be nutritionally dense. It should provide us with energy and the nutrients at the same time. Some important nutrients to keep in mind for a balanced breakfast are:
An essential carbohydrate needed for the brain to function optimally is glucose and breakfast helps to restore the blood glucose levels and make it stable. Carbohydrates are generally eaten at breakfast so eating the whole grains instead of the refined ones would be the wisest choice. Whole grains are full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Good choices are poha, upma, oatmeal, dalia, whole grain breads, paratha, dosa, idli, bhakri, thepla, pancakes and chilla.
Proteins in breakfast help in staying full. Eggs (in any form), sprouts, besan or dal chillas, low fat milk and products are good protein options during breakfast. However, keep a check on the intake of high saturated fat choices like sausages, ham, etc to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, etc.
Including fruits and vegetables in the breakfast is always a good idea to help increase the daily fiber intake. Fiber gives a feeling of satiety, prevents constipation as well as has cholesterol-lowering effects.
Starting the day with low-fat milk or milk products helps complete the daily calcium requirement. Most often people miss out on this important food group or do not have enough of it to meet the daily calcium requirements. Hence, low-fat milk, curd, low-fat cheese are all good breakfast options.
Some healthy breakfast ideas:
- Bowl of Sugarless Cereal with Milk + Egg + Fruit
- Milk / Tea / Coffee + Egg + Whole Wheat Bread + Fruit
- Milk / Tea / Coffee + Baked Beans on Toast + Fruit
- Milk / Tea / Coffee + Idlis / Dosa / Uttapam with Sambar + Fruit
- Bowl of Oatmeal with Milk + Egg + Fruit
- Fruit Smoothie + Nuts + Slice of Whole Wheat Bread
Vegetarians can opt for sprouts and soya instead of eggs. People who are in a hurry can opt for fruit smoothies along with a handful of nuts or on the go. Including millets like jowar, bajra, ragi in breakfast is also a healthy alternative.
Breakfast is your fuel for performance. Healthy breakfast equals optimal health. If you are one who is confused as to what to eat and how much to eat at breakfast or at other meals we can help you chalk out healthy eating plans.