Making healthy food choices every day is the bedrock for our current and future health and well-being. This extends to kicking the day off with a nutritious breakfast. Yet, research shows that if there’s a meal to be skipped, it’s most likely to be breakfast, largely thanks to some popular breakfast myths.
This week (9-15 October) is National Nutrition and Obesity Week. Each year a central nutritional theme for healthy eating is selected to endorse across SA. This year, it’s to promote the importance of regularly starting your day with a nutritiously balanced breakfast. #startwithbreakfast
But truth be told, many of us intentionally skip breakfast for a variety of ill-informed reasons (or excuses). We got some insights that debunk some popular breakfast myths from the folk at ADSA, the Association of Dietetics in South Africa. They also provided some really useful suggestions on how to regularly enjoy a healthy breakfast.
BREAKFAST MYTH#1 SKIPPING BREAKFAST TO LOSE WEIGHT
Loads of observational studies show people who have a healthy breakfast habit, are better able to maintain a healthy weight than those who habitually skip breakfast. This is partially due to the fact that regular (and healthy) breakfast eaters generally have healthier lifestyle habits. They eat less convenience type foods and are generally more active.
By skipping breakfast, you risk cravings and grabbing convenience foods with low nutritional value to curb those cravings. Also, if you feel “starving” by lunchtime, you tend to indulge in larger portions and overeat.
Another important point is made by Kim Rutgers, a Registered Dietitian and ADSA spokesperson. “Skipping any meal will mean important nutrients like vitamins and minerals will be missed.” This can in turn lead to imbalances which result in us seeking out the wrong kinds of foods.
Effective, and sustainable weight management is achieved through healthy food choices throughout the day, which includes breakfast.
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BREAKFAST MYTH #2 THERE’S NO TIME FOR BREAKFAST
Control the chaos! With the tiniest amount of planning there’s no excuse to skip breakfast. ADSA spokesperson and Registered Dietitian, Abby Courtenay offers these suggestions.
Plan your breakfasts for the week and do some prep the night before. Soak some oats, chop your fruit or boil eggs while making supper.
If you’re not going to have time to sit down to enjoy breakfast at home, plan to take it with you. It’s OK to eat your breakfast over the two to three hours after waking.
A nutritious smoothie is a conveniently quick way to enjoy a balanced breakfast. “I encourage my patients to blend together a small banana, oats, sugar-free peanut butter and low fat milk. Baby spinach is an optional extra. Not only is this the quickest meal, but it contains balanced portions of fruit, vegetables, minimally processed grains and healthy plant fats.”
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BREAKFAST MYTH #3 YOU SHOULDN’T EAT BREAKFAST IF YOU’RE NOT HUNGRY
But what if we don’t feel hungry for a breakfast? You don’t have to have breakfast immediately on waking, or all in one go. You can have your breakfast during the two or three hours after waking. Abby says: “Swap your smaller mid-morning snack and breakfast around. For example, eat a fruit when you are getting ready for work or school and then enjoy a bigger, more complete meal at around 10h00. This way you are getting in all the food and nutrients you need whilst still honouring your body’s natural hunger cues.”
BREAKFAST MYTH #4 YOU SHOULD EAT CEREAL OR EGGS FOR BREAKFAST
A healthy breakfast doesn’t have to consist of “traditional” breakfast foods. If you don’t like them, don’t eat them. It’s also important to remember that many processed foods, like cereals, marketed as “healthy breakfast foods” can be laden with sugar.
Be creative with leftovers. Enjoy leftover mince on a slice of toast with some fresh tomato and avo. Or use your leftover pumpkin or sweet potato to make delicious breakfast fritters.
The rule of a healthy breakfast (and in fact any meal), is basically balance. It should consist of the right portion of carbohydrates, craving-curbing protein, and healthy-fats. And don’t skip on the fiber, it helps keep you feeling full for longer.
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BREAKFAST MYTH #5 SKIPPING BREAKFAST WILL SAVE YOU MONEY
Well not really. Skipping breakfast can potentially cause unforeseen health expenses. We know that breakfast eaters tend to be healthier and leaner than breakfast skippers. Studies have shown that regular (healthy) breakfast eaters, have a lower risk of expensive conditions such as being overweight/obesity, hypertension and heart disease.
Healthy eating does not have to expensive. “It may take a little extra planning but when you are in the routine of eating well, you will actually save money. Consider how much you can save with less store bought convenience foods, takeaways and eating out.”
Visit the National Nutrition & Obesity Week website for more tips and recipes. http://www.nutritionweek.co.za/
If you’d like to chat to a dietitian for more help, find one in your area here: www.adsa.org.za
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