The second most popular question in my house is “what do you want for breakfast?”. Luckily, pleasing the two adults in my house at breakfast is not too difficult. It is usually easy to find something quick, simple, and most importantly, nutritious. So often in clinic I see students, mums and professionals fighting fatigue, headaches, and wayward hormones; a deeper dive into their diet reveals that breakfast might consist of a few bites of the kids left over crust, a bowl of soggy cereal, a cup of coffee, or sometimes nothing at all.
For so many people breakfast, the meal that breaks your fast, might not be happening until morning tea time, lunch time, or maybe not until you collapse into a heap at about 2pm. We all have our reasons, “it’s a struggle to get the kids up and out to school”, “I have an early lecture” or even “I’m so bored with breakfast, I just don’t bother”.
Should I, or shouldn’t I?
Breaking your fast in the morning is so essential for your health. It gets your inner fire, your metabolism going. Eating a good breakfast can help maintain previous weight loss (Wyatt et al., 2002), help you resist poorer food choices throughout the day (O’Neil, Nicklas, & Fulgoni, 2014) and can help maximise the amount of vitamins, minerals and nutrients you can get in per day.
The role of breakfast on our mood and weight could be attributed to the role of glycogen on our adrenals. Your body needs fuel. Your body also doesn’t like the idea of running out of fuel, or experiencing the perception of running out of fuel. When your body thinks it’s running low on fuel, a whole host of alarm bells start ringing, and activation of our famine, floods, war (FFW) hormone, Cortisol gets kicked off.
The impact on serious skipping
If you skip breakfast, or if you choose an easy source of fuel such as a highly processed, sugary cereal, then up goes your blood sugar, only to come crashing down a few hours later. Seriously low blood sugar can be life-threatening, so it’s no wonder your body views it as a stressor. This is when FFW hormones, cortisol and epinephrine, are released by the adrenals, letting the body know that it needs to get glucose into the bloodstream, now! The body will respond by breaking down the stored form of glucose, glycogen, and then sets about making new glucose out for fats and proteins in the body. Essentially, every time you get a drop in blood sugar, the body sets off an emergency response, and the HPA axis is activated. Not only does being hungry, or eating a sugary breakfast leave was with a cranky tummy, but it also leaves our adrenals frayed.
Imagine what would happen, if you did this every day….
Fight the flavour fatigue, beat the breakfast blahs, and boost the benefits.
- Plan and prepare
- Think about breakfast when you do your weekly shop, stock the fridge and pantry
- Choose 3 recipes (minimum) and rotate; this rotates the nutrients and flavours, and prevents flavour fatigue
- Prep ziplock bags of pre-chopped fruit for quick smoothies
- Power up your protein
- Use leftover chicken or fish from dinner as a protein base on toast
- Mix up protein powder flavours
- Eggs are so versatile – scrambled, boiled, poached, omelette
- Eat mindfully and socially
- Breakfast should also provide you with soulfood, time with loved ones and community
- Use this time to explore what events are happening in your family’s world that day
- Don’t have housemates? Make breakfast dates with co-workers
- Grab a green
- Alkalising, and nutrient dense, add an extra green to breakfast
- Basil and rocket pesto to scrambled eggs
- Spinach, kale, wheatgrass shots to smoothies
- Seasonal swing
- Eating seasonally makes your shopping bill cheaper
- Berries on granola in summer, stewed pears and apples on porridge in winter
- Zucchini fritters in summer, sweet potato hash in winter
– Jenna Verhoeven, Naturopath
O’Neil, C. E., Nicklas, T. A., & Fulgoni, V. L., 3rd. (2014). Nutrient intake, diet quality, and weight/adiposity parameters in breakfast patterns compared with no breakfast in adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2008. J Acad Nutr Diet, 114(12 Suppl), S27-43. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2014.08.021
Wyatt, H., Grunwald, G., Mosca, C., Klem, M., Wing, R., & Hill, J. (2002). Long-Term Weight Loss and Breakfast in Subjects in the National Weight Control Registry. Obesity Research, 10(2), 78-82. doi:10.1038/oby.2002.13