5 Reasons why you should have a healthy breakfast.
Breakfast is often considered the most important meal of the day, but sometimes it’s hard to fit a healthy breakfast into a rushed morning. Here we give you a few reasons why it’s worth getting up a bit earlier and having breakfast, as well as some useful tips for ensuring you start your day with the right nutrition.
Eating breakfast has been associated with lower body weight and a lower risk of overweight and obesity. It’s been suggested that eating breakfast may improve satiety responses and prevent unhealthy snacking.
1. Ups your energy levels
Did you ever wonder why breakfast is called breakfast? It’s because we’re breaking the overnight fast as we just spent the night sleeping and so wouldn’t have eaten for quite a few hours. During that time our body still uses fuel to maintain its functions, and so our blood sugar levels and glucose stores are getting pretty low by morning. Having breakfast helps us to refuel and increase energy levels. Including a glass of milk as part of a healthy breakfast is a great way to bring your sleepy child’s blood glucose levels back up and give them the energy they need to get them through the morning.
2. Boosts your performance
Refuelling our body with breakfast can help boost our performance at work and school. Studies have shown that children who eat breakfast show better cognitive performance through the morning, and they also tend to perform better at school. But adults have also been found to perform better mentally when eating breakfast, which is no surprise as our brains need fuel to function at their best.
3. Helps you maintain a healthy body weight
Eating breakfast has been associated with lower body weight and a lower risk of overweight and obesity. It’s been suggested that eating breakfast may improve satiety responses and prevent unhealthy snacking. Those who eat breakfast have also been found to be more active, which means they burn more calories. But it could also be that those who eat breakfast simply eat a more healthy diet. Either way – starting your day with a healthy breakfast seems a great idea for managing body weight.
4.Improves your vitamin and mineral intake
Studies have shown that those who consume breakfast regularly tend to have higher intakes of vitamins and minerals compared to those who skip breakfast. This is particularly true for those who consume breakfast cereals with milk – healthy cereals naturally provide a range of nutrients and are often fortified, and milk and yoghurt are also naturally packed with essential vitamins and minerals.
5. Helps keep your hunger at bay
Being hungry can leave us irritable and makes it difficult to concentrate on the tasks in front of us. A healthy breakfast can help you get through the morning without those hunger pangs that make us reach for convenient but often unhealthy quick-fixes. Protein has been found to be particularly satiating, so making sure your breakfast contains a good portion of protein can help you feel fuller for longer.
Healthy breakfast tips
Getting your breakfast right can really help you start your day well. Here are a few tips of how to make your breakfast choice a healthy one.
- Have a variety of core foods
Choose foods from the four food groups that the Ministry of Health recommends as part of a balanced diet, such as wholegrain cereals or bread, fruit and vegetables, eggs and dairy. These are all nutritious options that provide a range of essential nutrients needed for a well-functioning body.
- Go wholegrain
Wholegrain bread or cereals can be a great source of fibre, which can help to keep you feeling fuller for longer, slow down energy release, and support a healthy gut. Cereals also provide B vitamins, vitamin E, and minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc and selenium.
- Aim for low GI foods
The GI – short for glycaemic index – is a measure of how quickly blood sugar levels rise and fall after eating food. A low GI means that foods are digested and absorbed more slowly, providing a steadier source of energy that can help you keep going for longer. A low-GI breakfast has also been found to better support mental performance throughout the morning compared to a high-GI breakfast. For a low-GI breakfast, include wholegrain cereals or bread, and a protein source such as milk, yoghurt or eggs. Try to limit refined grains such as white bread, sugary breakfast cereals and other foods that are high in sugar, as these are often not as nutrient-dense and low in dietary fibre. It’s a good idea to check the label and compare sugar levels in different products.
- Up your protein
Breakfast can sometimes be quite low in protein. Including a source of protein such as eggs or dairy is a great idea as protein has been suggested to help keep us fuller for longer. Protein can also lower the GI of a meal, meaning that it can help slow down the energy release from breakfast.
Healthy breakfast choices
Key nutrients provided
Wholegrain cereals & bread
Provide energy, dietary fibre, B vitamins, vitamin E, and minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc and selenium.
Milk and dairy foods
Provide high quality protein, as well as riboflavin, vitamin A and B12, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and potassium.
Fruits & vegetables
Provide vitamins such as folate and pro-vitamin A (beta-carotene), minerals, dietary fibre, as well as phytonutrients, which are beneficial components found in plants
Eggs are a source of protein, and also contain vitamins such as folate, vitamin D and B12, and minerals such as selenium, zinc and iron.
Healthy breakfast ideas
- Porridge made from unsweetened oats & milk, with caramelised banana slices on top for some sweetness. Add some cinnamon to make this a delicious treat for cold weather.
- Toasted muesli with yoghurt or milk. Go for muesli varieties that have little sugar added but where the sweetness comes mostly from dried fruits. Add some fresh fruit for extra nutrition.
- Scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast topped with cheddar cheese & half a sliced avocado on the side. Have a latte with it for some extra dairy. Instead of the avocado you could also add a home-made tomato salsa.
- Wholemeal toast with peanut butter & latte or a glass of milk. Have some fruit with it for an extra boost of antioxidants.
- Wholegrain wheat biscuits with fresh fruit & milk – simple but deliciously healthy.
- A great on-the-go breakfast option is a home-made smoothie. Just add some fresh fruits or frozen berries, yoghurt and a handful of oats, nuts or seeds into the blender – add some honey or maple syrup for sweetness, but remember to limit how much you add as these syrups are high sugar ingredients. Dairy products are a great way to up the protein levels of your on-the-go breakfast.