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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Getting your breakfast right can really help you start your day well. Here are a few tips on how to make your breakfast choice a healthy one.
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.
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.
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.
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.