Why breakfast is associated with good health?
According to dietician Mirriam Pappo Klein, ‘A lot of times breakfast foods play on certain buzzwords that we have come to associate with good health, but you have to look at the whole picture – everything a food contains – before you can determine if it’s really a good choice’ and so you can feel like skipping it altogether. However, breakfast is vital to your wellbeing as well as your weight loss efforts, so what do you need to look out for?
Cereal – Experts agree that eating cereal can be one of the best ways to start your day. Elizabeth Somer, dietician and author of the book 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman’s Diet, says that a bowl of wholegrain cereal with skimmed milk and a piece of fruit ‘is almost impossible to beat.’ She recommends that your choice of cereal should contain ‘at least 3g of fibre per serving or more’ as healthy-sounding buzz words like ‘multigrain’ or ‘all-natural’ have little meaning with inadequate amounts of fibre. Somer also says that the salt content should be below 5g, the sugar should be less than 4g, and the fat content should be under 2g to ensure you’re getting a healthy start to the day. Somer says to avoid cereal bars, so if you’re concerned about wellness as well as convenience, grab a banana instead.
Baked goods – If cereal just doesn’t do it for you, you can find some healthy breakfast choices in the bakery aisle providing you read the labels carefully. Klein says ‘This means not only paying attention to all the ingredients – like sugar, sodium and fat – but also the calories as they pertain to the portion size’ If you’re unsure about how much of a portion your muffin is, only eat half, always skip the butter, and, whenever possible, choose a variety that is high in fibre and low in fat and sugar. The same applies to a small bagel, and you can embellish it with high-protein toppings such as peanut butter or low-fat cheese, and if you’re after toast, make sure you opt for wholemeal bread and soya, nut or almond butter or low-fat cottage or cream cheese.
Smoothies – Smoothies normally consist of fruit, yoghurt and juice whipped in a blender to milkshake consistency, and so can be healthy as long as you don’t buy certain pre-made versions from the supermarket, as Somer says these can have up to 20 teaspoons of sugar per serving, as well as a high fat content. Some breakfast bar smoothies are also made with full-fat ice cream. Therefore, carefully read the labels or make your own the night before, and give it a quick 10-second whip in the morning for a guaranteed healthy breakfast. Yoghurt can also be a great alternative, and Somer suggests buying an unflavoured low-fat or fat-free type, then adding fruit, honey or jam on your own.