‘Never skip your breakfast’ – your mom told you that and so did your nutritionist, but did you listen? If not, listen now and start eating a healthy wholesome breakfast every day. Breakfast has a multitude of benefits that last all day long.
‘I don’t have any time in the morning to sit and eat breakfast’, ‘I’m not hungry in the morning, coffee is enough’, or ‘I don’t feel like it’ are simply excuses we have all made at some point in time or still make to get out of forming a healthy habit of eating breakfast. You don’t need us to tell you; you already know what the solution is. Set the alarm clock 15 minutes earlier than what you set it for and don’t hit the snooze button until it is time to go.
Breakfast can be the most pampering meal of the day because it affords so much variety and includes foods from every food group in the food pyramid. The choices are endless.
Benefits of eating a healthy breakfast:
- Weight Loss
Many of us often think that skipping meals equals lesser calories consumed and what better meal than breakfast to skip, right? Wrong and WRONG! Firstly skipping meals is not the answer to your weight loss struggle and secondly skipping breakfast is not an answer to any question at all. Eating breakfast within 2 hours of waking up has been shown to aid weight loss in a positive way. When we skip breakfast, levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin shoot up making you overeat at lunch and crave for energy laden (read – sugar and fat dense) snacks in the mid-morning and throughout the day. The result is that you end up consuming many more calories through foods that do not provide much nutrition (other than energy) throughout the day than the number of calories you skipped at breakfast, a meal which can provide many vitamins and minerals.
Research indicates that skipping breakfast leads to weight gain and obesity. People who do not eat breakfast are more likely to graze on high calorie snacks and have a nutritionally poorer diet than breakfast eaters throughout the day.
- Gets you going in the morning!
Think about the word ‘breakfast’, the word itself says you are breaking a (overnight) fast. You haven’t eaten anything for 8-12 hours when you wake up in the morning, your body is craving for energy to get going and all you do is give it a cup of coffee. Expecting your body and mind to perform to its fullest capacity without providing it with energy and nutrients in the morning is like expecting your car to go a 100 miles on an empty tank. Total no-brainer, right? Eating a healthy breakfast provides you with energy to get you cracking in the morning and keeps you more physically active throughout the day. A healthy breakfast also keeps you physically more active and you will miss fewer days at work or school due to sickness.
- Boosts metabolism
Research suggests that eating a wholesome breakfast literally jumpstarts your metabolism and keeps it going for the day. At night, when you are sleeping, the metabolic rate also goes into a resting rate, eating a nutritious breakfast provides a good lift for the metabolism and keeps it revved up for the day.
- Elevates mood
Most of us can be more irritable and cranky when we are hungry and deprived of energy. A wholesome breakfast consisting particularly of carbohydrate rich foods provides energy to the body and brain after a full night’s fast and lifts mood.
- Allows to meet daily recommended servings of vitamins, minerals and fiber
People who eat breakfast regularly are more like to consume recommended quantities of vitamins, minerals and fiber in their diets because breakfast includes foods from all food groups – fruits, dairy, cereals and eggs, meat or beans. A home-cooked breakfast is your best bet but even if you just eat cereal for breakfast, you are more likely to meet you daily nutrient requirements because many cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals, and are more often than not consumed with added milk, nuts and fruit. If you do choose cereal, read the food label to be sure it is not laden with high amounts of sugar. Eat Right: Learn to read the food labels. People who skip breakfast are unlikely to get their daily dose of enough vitamins and minerals.
- Improved Cognitive ability
Research suggest that eating breakfast can improve memory, enhance attention span and reasoning and increase the speed of processing information. Eating a healthy breakfast restores blood glucose levels which may be the reason for these pros. When we are not distracted by hunger pangs, we are better able to think and focus on the task at hand.
- Your chance to cheat a little
Now, while we all know that one should eat healthy, but we all like to indulge once in a while. Well if you must then breakfast is the best time to do that in moderation of course. And you can be smart with that too. For e.g. the day you feel like having a muffin or brownie just cut the sugar from your coffee or tea.
- Specific benefits for Children:
Children who are regularly eat breakfast –
- Perform better in school and have enhanced concentration, attention span, memory, hand-eye co-ordination, verbal abilities, creativity and problem solving skills.
- Are less likely to miss school.
- Research suggests that children and adolescents who do not eat breakfast regularly are more likely to be overweight or obese adults and hence have a higher risk of developing other diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart ailments.
To derive maximum benefits from breakfast, make wise and healthy food choices. Breakfast laden with fat and sugar does not yield the above mentioned results.
Typically, a breakfast should be wholesome consisting protein and carbohydrate (not just carbohydrate). Protein fills you up and keeps you satiated for several hours. A nutritious breakfast should include nutrient rich carbohydrate, milk or other dairy products, fruits and vegetables and eggs, lean meat or beans.
Some common healthy breakfast options include:
-Eggs (omelet, scrambled, boiled, sunny side up) and toast
-Idlis or dosas with sambar and coconut chutney
-Theplas and stuffed parathas
You can also include some tasty treats in small quantities like a slice of bacon or a sausage, a slice of banana bread, a cheese wedge, peanut butter, hummus etc.
Simple doable tips to not skip breakfast:
- Wake up 15-20 minutes earlier than you normally do, so you have that time to sit down and enjoy your breakfast without having to hurry. Sitting down for breakfast with the family also sets a good example for the children and they will continue to eat a healthy breakfast as adolescents and adults.
- Set a weekly schedule. Decide what you and your family will eat for breakfast for the following week on the weekend so you have enough time to buy and stock up on the required foods.
- Prep in advance. Chop vegetables for the omelet or cut the fruit and store it in a container the previous night, boil eggs for the week and peel them on the weekend etc. This way you only need a few minutes to put together a nutritious breakfast in the morning.