Many of my clients talk to me about nutrition and diet, it is a topic I enjoy and like to share knowledge about. Questions that I frequently get asked are similar to the following: What should we be eating? What do I eat? Are carbs really that bad for you? Should you have low-fat foods or low sugar foods? The list is endless.
The one question I have been asked more recently however and one which I wish to discuss today is:
“What do you have for breakfast?”
To me this seems a pretty simple question to answer - I regularly mix my breakfasts up so I am able to give lots of choices and I NEVER skip breakfast. What I found shocking was when I asked the same question back to my clients, "Why do you ask? What do you have for your breakfast?”. The answers have been among the following,
- I’m not a morning person so I don't have any breakfast
- A Starbucks coffee and pastry or banana bread
- Cereal and milk
Hmmmm…. I think to myself…this is not good!
I’m sure you have heard it before but I will state the obvious, Breakfast is of utmost importance. Breakfast is literally the first meal that breaks the fast from night time till morning. Your first meal should aim to provide you with energy for the morning; it should restore glucose and carbohydrate levels. Those who skip breakfast tend to see a dip in their blood sugar levels come mid morning — these are the people who get ‘hangry’ and most probably reach for a quick and convenient sugary snack to give them a boost — not really ideal for maintainga healthy weight.
I then think of answers to help clients fix their breakfast problems. Firstly, we need to address the issues with their breakfast habits; is it a) they are not eating breakfast full stop? Or b) they are not choosing the best foods to eat at breakfast time?
Lets address point a). If a client isn’t eating breakfast full stop it is generally because they either don’t feel hungry or don’t have time in the morning to make it. These problems can be fixed. If we stress the importance of breakfast a client should want to try and eat in the morning, in time they will find once they get into the habit of eating within an hour of waking they will feel much more energized and want to continue this healthy habit.
Secondly if a client doesn’t have time I tell them to plan ahead. I too, do not have much time to make breakfast in the morning, waking up at (or even before) the crack of dawn is challenging enough for me, the last thing I want to be doing is making breakfast, which is why I have it waiting for me in the fridge. If your client has children it is also good to emphasize the fact that eating breakfast in front of their children sets an example for them to eat it too.
Moving on to point b).
This one can be slightly trickier to address as I never want to tell somebody that what they are eating is completely wrong, however it is important to give healthier alternatives when I know my clients are eating nothing but empty calories for breakfast. Breakfast, like lunch and dinner, should be regarded as a meal; it should be nutrient dense and a mixture of carbohydrates, fats and protein. Due to marketing and advertising many cereal brands label themselves to be healthy options for breakfast when truth be told, they are not. There are much better options out there that if you invest a little time in the preparation, will reward you with energy and essential vitamins and minerals.
It has only really been in the last couple of years that I too made a transition from bran flakes and skimmed milk to more nutrient dense options. I now however, like to try a new recipe each month and I share the best ones with my clients in the hope that they will follow my lead!
To wrap up here are three of my favourite breakfasts (with links to the recipes). I tend to alternate between them every few days in order vary my nutrient intake and prevent boredom. All these breakfasts can be made in advance and are full of nutrient dense ingredients.
- Green Monster http://ohsheglows.com/2011/01/13/classic-green-monster/
- Frittata Muffins http://toneitup.com/2013/03/we-♥-food-friday-frittata-muffins/
- Chia Pudding http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/chia-pudding
Do comment and let me know how you like them.