MOST of us have a favorite breakfast, whether it’s a classic bowl of cereal, eggs on toast, or maybe a croissant, crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle.
But have you ever thought about the impact your first meal of the day has on your health?
London nutritionist Lily Soutter shares the potential pitfalls of your breakfast and some easy alternatives…
milk and muesli
Crunchy muesli soaked in milk is a classic in homes across the UK, but there can be a small hazard.
“Some breakfast cereals may contain high added sugars. Too much added sugar can lead to tooth decay and weight gain,” says Lily.
“Also, sugary grains can cause blood sugar levels to go on a rollercoaster ride, leading to energy slumps and hunger pangs shortly after eating.”
Lily recommends taking a quick look at the traffic light label on the front of the cereal box, which can tell you if the cereal is high in sugar — it will show up in red.
“You can also check the nutritional label on the back of the pack. A sugar content of more than 22.5 g per 100 g is classified as “high sugar content,” she adds.
However, not all breakfast cereals are high in sugar, some can be a source of fiber and may be fortified with nutrients such as B vitamins, iron and vitamin D.
“Cereal can be a quick and convenient breakfast, but wise choice is key.
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“Ideally opt for a low-sugar grain that contains less than 5g of sugars per 100g.”
For example Weetabix, Cheerios Multigrain and Original Shreddies.
There’s a pretty important reason granola tastes so good.
“Just like muesli, muesli can also be high in sugar. The best choice would be a low-sugar granola,” says Lily.
Granolas like Lizi’s Granola offer a low-sugar option.
Also, check the ingredients list: if there is sugar or a sugar variant like honey in the first three ingredients, look for an alternative.
Alternatively, just try a sprinkle of granola on top of Greek yogurt, oatmeal and fruit for a touch of sweetness without overdoing it.
Or even make it yourself – this way you can keep track of how much sugar is in it.
The pastries are delicious, there’s no denying that.
And while there’s nothing wrong with having the occasional croissant or pain au chocolate for breakfast, Lily says it’s important to be aware that they’re high in saturated fat.
“In fact, a single croissant can provide almost half of our daily saturated fat needs. “Too much of this type of fat can raise blood cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease.”
If you fancy adding some fillings to your croissant instead of making it sweeter with chocolate and creams, Lily suggests giving it a healthier twist by filling it with nutrient-dense ingredients: “Like lean chicken with an olive oil-based pesto next to vegetables.” like tomato, rocket and artichoke.
“Alternatively, almond butter and sliced banana can make a tasty and nutritious filling.”
A quick grab-and-go option: Skipping food and having a coffee might give you a quick burst of liquid energy, but that’s about all it gets.
“Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to breakfast, research suggests that eating breakfast on average helps maintain a balanced diet and healthy body weight.
“Not only can breakfast help keep hunger pangs at bay, but it can also improve mental performance, focus, and even mood,” Lily explains.
“Instead of drinking your morning coffee in isolation, enjoy it with a nutritious breakfast that provides sustained energy and supports health.
“Or if you’re in a hurry and not particularly hungry, maybe a homemade coffee-flavored smoothie so you can still get your caffeine hit, but with added breakfast nutrients.”
A whole avocado spread on toast with eggs
“Eggs with avocado on toast would be a balanced and nutritious breakfast for many,” says Lily.
However, she warns that the type of bread you choose can alter the nutritional status of your breakfast.
“Choosing whole grain bread provides more fiber compared to refined white bread.”
And while avocados are a source of healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, it’s important to remember that they’re also incredibly high in calories.
Opt for half an avocado instead of a whole one and save the other half for tomorrow!
Crispy bacon, buttered toast, and runny eggs…just a few of the things that make a full skillet delicious.
However, they can be high in salt and saturated fat.
“It’s possible to make this breakfast healthier.
“Like poaching and grilling instead of roasting, choosing lean sausage and bacon, choosing whole wheat toast, and increasing the proportion of plants on the plate, including tomatoes, mushrooms, and beans,” says Lily.
Protein shake or smoothie
“There is certainly a place for protein shakes; They come in handy, especially when the time comes.
“However, some can be high in calories and sugar, which may not always be easy to spot when buying on-the-go.
“Other protein shakes may have macronutrient imbalances. For example, they can be high in protein but have little to no carbs, healthy fats, or fiber,” says Lily.
Make sure your shake is balanced and doesn’t contain too much sugar.
“Choose 1-2 servings of fruit, a low-sugar liquid base (like almond milk), a carbohydrate source like oats, and fiber and healthy fats like seeds or avocado,” explains Lily.
piece of fruit
Another easy grab-and-go option, fruit seems like a good choice for breakfast.
While a crisp apple or juicy pear is packed with nutrients, antioxidants and fiber, it’s also low in protein.
“Eating a source of protein for breakfast can help us stay full longer, which can help reduce unnecessary snacking and overeating later in the day.
“Also, spreading protein consumption evenly throughout the day is better for building and maintaining muscle mass.
“Why not try pairing your fruit with some plain yogurt and seeds to add protein, fiber and some healthy fats?” says Lily.
What a Nutritionist Eats for Breakfast
London nutritionist Lily Soutter says: “I love my morning porridge with ground flaxseed.
“For the slow energy release, I use jumbo whole grain oats.
“I cook my porridge with cow’s milk for a protein boost and top it with ground flaxseed for that extra fiber boost.
“We are all unique, so the best breakfast comes down to individual preferences, dietary needs and health goals.
“However, most people do well with a balanced breakfast that includes a source of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and fiber.
“Try plain yogurt with fruits and seeds, overnight oats, egg and avocado on whole wheat toast, or even peanut butter and banana on toast.”