We’ve always been told that the most important meal of the day is breakfast and for it to be perfect, it has to include dairy, cereals and fruit.
This is partly true. Although it’s true that starting the day by breaking the overnight fast (that is the etymology of the word “break-fast”) is important, it is not crucial for achieving a balanced diet for the rest of the day.
We all know people who get out of bed with a good appetite and others who are not able to eat anything solid until they’ve been up for a couple of hours.
I’m one of those who wake up happily looking for something to eat.
Why is breakfast so good?
It’s best to eat at least 30% of the total daily calories in the morning, but it’s not essential to do this as soon as you get up. You can divide these calories up between breakfast and a mid-morning snack.
If you are one of those people who can’t consume anything more than a simple coffee, coffee with milk, or fruit juice, there’s no problem. Provided that you later consume something more substantial providing the important energy and nutrients you need for your morning activities.
If you are one of those who start with a full breakfast and later take something lighter at mid-morning, then that’s fine too. Even if you eat such a big breakfast that you cannot eat anything until lunch time, then that’s also fine. The question, as I mentioned before, is to take a significant percentage of the total daily calorie intake during the morning.
Another question is what we should eat for breakfast. The truth is that on this question there are an amazing variety of breakfasts. They range from the classic continental breakfast, that include coffee with milk and toast with oil or butter or a glass of milk with cereals or cookies, to the full English breakfast that can fill the space between the chest and the backbone, including eggs, bacon, toast or even beans.
On the subject of fruit at breakfast, there’s a growing trend to take it in the form of a juice, which is OK if it’s natural (because I’m being indulgent today), but if it’s commercial then we fall into the trap of consuming a food that is high in sugars and low in fibre. There’s nothing better than eating whole pieces of fruit. They provide fructose, but its absorption is delayed by the fibre.
Why do our breakfasts have to come in packets?
I’d like you to ask yourself a question: have you realised that there are specific foods for breakfast, things that you don’t eat at any other meal of the day?
On the market, there are many types of cereals, with fibre, without fibre, with honey, with chocolate, with dried fruit, with nuts, etc. Choosing a type is really difficult because the manufacturers generate really attractive packaging, especially for children. The same happens with cookies.
And my question is, do you read the nutritional information on these cereal packets? Have you realised how much simple sugar they contain?
The amount of sugar that these breakfast-specific products have is really scandalous. It’s something we should ask ourselves very seriously because it’s not necessary to have so much simple sugar for breakfast (or the rest of the day either). And yes, I’m also referring to cereals with a high fibre content which also have a high percentage of sugar.
I’m going to tell you about something that happened to me 4 years ago. For purely professional reasons, I wanted to try products I found in the supermarket that I found were popular with certain people. It turned out that I saw some gluten-free maize cereal that did not have any sugar. I found that very curious because it’s practically impossible to find processed products without sugar.
Well I tried it and it was bland, but good. As I was monitoring the same product week by week, I saw they were changing the nutritional composition and were adding sugar to the product. I bought it out of curiosity and it was sweet. It’s not something that I often eat, but of course after that I was convinced that many people had complained and sugar had been added. I was so angry.
The issue here is that we’re worrying about a type of breakfast and people don’t dare to change their habits.
A good breakfast does not always have to be the same, coffee with milk, toast and a juice. A good breakfast can include whole fruit, dried fruit such as nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, some dairy such as yoghurt or cottage cheese, oats (one of the few cereals without sugar), infusion or tea, or you can even go for rye toast with avocado and tomato and, why not, with tuna, serrano ham, etc. And since we’re using our imagination, it can also include eggs, vegetables, etc.
What do we get from a varied and full breakfast?
To start with, we get a good charge of energy to help us face up to the morning of work, study or sport.
This helps the concentration because it provides enough nutrients to help our brains work better. Glucose especially is the main requirement of the brain.
This reduces anxiety because you don’t leave much time from getting up to consuming the first food.
But does having breakfast help you lose weight? Well, there is no scientific evidence that it helps you lose weight, but it also does not make you fat.
I’m always telling you about a varied and balanced diet. This means, you’ve got to vary the breakfast as well. As I always say, eat better and you won’t get bored.
The conclusion is that if you eat breakfast, look for foods that are not much processed, vary from one day to another, don’t be static in your choices, choose fresh ingredients and dedicate time to it. It will probably be the best fun you have all day.
Mi nombre es MªÁngeles Cano Villalba, pero llámame Geles. Soy Dietista-nutricionista y cocinera aficionada. En Natural Castelló voy a ayudarte a cuidar tu alimentación y tu salud.