One of my biggest bugbears is the lack of attention that people pay to how they start the day. It has been scientifically proven that the first foods we eat each morning will dictate the way our blood sugar fluctuates for the rest of the day so ideally we want to begin on a good footing. Plus it definitely makes sense for us to take in the most of our energy at the beginning of the day, then we can race about with a full tank rather than fuelling up in the evening when we’re winding down to go to bed.
To me it seems like common sense but how many people skip breakfast, fill up on coffee and then wonder why they are starving and reaching for that croissant or chocolate biscuit mid morning …
So what should we be doing to get ourselves off to the best start we can within the limits of a normal weekday morning?
- Pick a protein powerhouse
- Fill up with fabulous fats
- Complete with complex carbohydrates
I am not suggesting the preparation of a masterpiece on an average Tuesday whilst juggling all of life’s other plates, but simply using the above 3 rules you can make sure you’ve given yourself everything you need to still be bouncing when you get home at the end of the day.
My first ask is that you banish your thoughts as to what an ‘appropriate’ breakfast food is, why can’t you have chicken and greens for breakfast? If kippers (shudder) can be there then surely stir fried turkey could be? If thats a step too far for now that’s fine but keep it mind for the future.
So why protein? It is great source of slow burning energy and takes longer to digest than other foods, keeping you feeling full for longer. The presence of protein will also help balance your blood sugar levels preventing that mid-morning craving for something sweet or caffeinated to keep you going until lunch. Protein comes in many forms so don’t think you are limited to animal sources. All nuts (except peanuts) and seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, legumes, pulses, tofu, tempeh, miso, tahini and green leafy vegetables are great sources of plant based protein so include a few of those and you’ve got point 1 covered.
Next onto fats which are most definitely our friends. All of our cell membranes are based on fats, as is our brain tissue and many of our hormones so it a vital component of our diet that has had a bit of a bad rap recently, thankfully this tide is turning now. Again fats have the wonderful ability to help balance our blood sugar and provide a slow release energy source whilst also being wonderfully anti-inflammatory and nourishing for our systems generally.
Luckily many of the plant based protein sources mentioned above; nuts, seeds, hemp, chia and tahini are also rich in healthful fats as are cold pressed olive, avocado, walnut and coconut oils, avocado, natural full fat or coconut yoghurt, oily fish and organic eggs.
Finally to finish off we have our complex carbohydrates, again many people consider carbs the enemy which they most definitely are not. Our body is designed to utilise glucose from the breakdown of complex carbohydrates as its primary energy source, in the absence of glucose it has back up mechanisms to allow us to survive but I say pick the right ones and give your body what it wants! Try including one of the following for a truly brilliant breakfast: oats*, buckwheat*, quinoa*, brown rice*, spelt*, kamut*, amaranth*, teff*, millet*, wholegrain bread, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips.
*these also make fabulous alternative flours for breads, pancakes or tortillas
Whatever you take from this post whether it be all or nothing, I would hope you might think twice before you next reach for that box of cereal, what actually is it and is that what you want to start your day with? Same goes for when you’re running out of the house on empty, it takes the same time to hard boil a couple of eggs as to have a shower and they’re super portable too …
Some recipes for you to try: