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Planning Healthy Breakfasts That Are Fast, Easy and Nutritious
Milk with cereals. It has been most people’s favorite breakfast ever since they were children. The dairy industry has been telling us for years that “milk is good for the body” and cereal boxes carry messages stating that what’s inside is “fortified” with vitamins and minerals. Seems like a logical option, if you accept all of this.
Well I don’t. I avoid dairy products as I think they are meant for cows. I also avoid eating anything from a cardboard box, can, or wrapper because those processed foods are loaded with additives and preservatives. So since cereal with milk is out of the question, it’s no wonder they’re always asking me for breakfast ideas.
Before we get into ideas for the first meal of the day, I thought I’d be honest about my opinion of breakfast in general: I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary. You might think this is crazy advice considering we’ve been told time and time again that breakfast is absolutely essential, but hear me out on this one.
I live in a culture where late night eating is pretty much the norm, sometimes until 11pm. This has the effect of delaying my hunger the next day, so I don’t eat right after I get up because I’m not hungry. Those who read my blog and articles know my first diet tip: “Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, and the rest will fall into place.” I personally think it’s crazy to ignore the signals our body gives and burden our digestive system when it’s not ready to accept more food.
To further illustrate my point, I’ll leave you with my personal experience with this. After hitting a plateau some time ago, I decided to disregard all dogma about breakfast and started having my first meal around 2pm. This had the effect of allowing my digestive system to clear itself of all previous meals and allowed for a small detox period each day. My skin cleared up a lot, my thinking was sharper, and I lost a lot of water and fat in the process. So for me it’s a natural choice to avoid breakfast because of all the benefits I’ve experienced.
I don’t think it’s the act of avoiding breakfast that has brought all these benefits, but the fact that I let a 14-16 hour fasting period pass between the previous day’s meal and the current one. This is called “intermittent fasting” and is a new style of eating currently being adopted by bodybuilders and athletes. There is information on the Internet about all types of fasting, and I will definitely delve into this topic in the future.
Let’s go back to the original point of this article. Suppose you have dinner at 18:00 every day… logically you would wake up hungry every morning, so you should eat something. It shouldn’t be too heavy and should contain some good carbohydrates for energy and protein to slow its absorption. Below are three lists of foods to choose from:
Proteins: Eggs, Almonds (+ Almond Butter), Tahini, Nuts
Complex carbohydrates: Whole grain flatbreads, rye crackers, oatmeal, whole grain bread
Fruits/Vegetables: Tomatoes, Spinach, Blueberries, Grapefruit, Oranges, Melon, Apples, Grapes, Strawberries, Watermelon, Pears
A good breakfast would include a fist-sized portion of one food item from each list, or enough to fill you up without putting much pressure on your stomach. Some good ideas include:
(a) Spinach omelette with melon
(b) Almonds, oatmeal and strawberries
(c) Boiled eggs, tomatoes, olives and wholemeal bread
(d) Chopped walnuts, apples and oatmeal with a hint of cinnamon
(e) Chopped pears topped with tahini and rye chips
(f) Sliced apples topped with almond butter and whole-grain toast
(g) Omelette, blueberries, strawberries and whole-grain toast
For those who can’t live without dairy, you can add yogurt to the protein list for more combinations. Keep in mind that these lists are not exhaustive, so as a guide you should choose locally grown and fresh foods, buying organic where possible.
If you find yourself feeling hungry right after eating, adjust your portions so you get more from the protein list. Likewise, if you find that you don’t have much energy, you can add more fruit.
Before concluding, however, I thought I’d make a point about that feeling of “hungry” you may experience when you wake up. If you finish your meal the night before with something very sweet (like a bowl of ice cream), your insulin levels will rise and fall as you sleep, leading to feeling abnormally hungry when you wake up which could also be a result of dehydration. You may find that your hunger is more manageable if you avoid such foods, saving them for special occasions.
Blood sugar regulation is key to managing hunger and eating when your body really needs nourishment. That, however, is another topic for another day, so stay tuned.
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