We’ve all heard it said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but still many of us tend to skip breakfast. But why all the fuss about the first meal of the day? Well, a healthy, balanced breakfast helps to replenish energy stores used during the overnight fasting period and can provide many of the essential nutrients needed by the body every day.
Research shows that people who regularly eat breakfast tend to have more balanced diets and healthier body weights in comparison to those who miss this meal. Also skipping breakfast often means that we end up snacking on less healthy foods or overeating later on during the day.
A nourishing breakfast will kick-start your day and should be made up from the main food groups.
1. Include a high-fibre cereal or grain, like oats porridge, breakfast cereal or wholegrain bread, which provide sustained energy, fibre, B-vitamins and also some iron. Steer clear of sugar-coated cereals, sweetened drinks, biscuits, baked goodies at breakfast, they usually have less nutrients and a rollercoaster effect on blood sugar.
2. Have one of your five daily portions of fruit and vegetables at breakfast. Have a piece of fruit on its own or add a chopped banana or a few pieces of dried fruit to your cereal.
3. Include a portion of low-fat or fat-free milk or dairy foods (or a calcium-rich alternative) at breakfast to give you a protein, calcium and B-vitamin boost. Calcium is vital to keep bones healthy, especially for us women, and is also important for maintaining a normal heartbeat, regulating blood pressure and helps to keep the nervous system in good working order. So, have a serving of milk or yoghurt with your porridge or cereal or drink a glass of milk on its own. Yoghurt can also be blended with your fruit to make a delicious smoothie on the side.
4. Meat, fish and alternatives are good sources of protein, iron and vitamins. These are not essential at breakfast but can add variety every now and then. They shouldn’t be included at breakfast every day and can be high in unhealthy fats. Choose healthful cooking methods such as grilling or poaching. Grilled low fat bacon, poached, boiled or scrambled eggs, baked beans or a grilled kipper are healthy choices.
5. Don’t forget to include a drink. Water, low-fat or fat-free milk, unsweetened pure fruit juice, tea and coffee supply essential fluid.