Do you eat a good breakfast? Do your children? We’re so used to hearing how it’s the most important meal of the day that most of us make some sort of effort – even if we’re pushed for time and not especially hungry. The truth is – whether it’s a quick piece of toast and coffee or a ‘healthier’ option of cereal topped with fruit and yogurt, chances are you could be getting a better start to the day.
Start with protein
Researchers in Columbia, USA, found that people eating a generous portion of protein first thing, as opposed to the carbohydrate-loaded breakfast cereals most people are eating, felt fuller, longer and had improved hormone levels. Their levels of leptin increased – making them feel satisfied and their levels of ghrelin decreased, making them feel less hungry and prone to food cravings. As a result, they snacked less, consumed less calories throughout the day and lost weight.
Scientifically, this all makes perfect sense. Like fat, protein is broken down slowly and takes longer digest – hence it stays in our system longer keeps us feeling satisfied for a longer period. This one of the reasons I always recommend that people aim for balanced meals and snacks – a combination of carbs, fats and protein. For instance, yogurt with fruit or a banana with a handful of nuts.
What was interesting (and worrisome) about this study was where the protein was coming from. Since this research was funded by the Beef Checkoff, Egg Nutrition Center and American Egg Board, it’s hardly surprising that participants were getting their protein in the form of sausages, egg waffles and beef burritos – not exactly constituents of a healthy breakfast! Obviously, the long-term negative effects on health of eating exclusively animal-based protein, loaded in saturated fats will eventually outweigh any short-term positive effects on our appetite. But of course, they don’t tell you that. Nor do the authors of the study have any interest in mentioning alternate sources of protein, ultimately healthier and more sustainable.
Let’s be practical
Anyway, aside from perhaps the weekend, most people don’t have the time to prepare heavy breakfasts like these, let alone eat and digest them. For most of the people I know, mornings are a frenzy of activity and a rush to get out of the house. Producing an ideal healthy breakfast in this context can seem an impossible challenge – and sitting down to enjoy it an unrealistic luxury.This stresses our digestive system, interferes with our ability to absorb the necessary nutrients from our food and can lead to chronic indigestion, bloating and other health issues.
Before you wring your hands in despair and reach for the Nutella, consider one of my favourite breakfast options – smoothies. Far from being complicated, messy or the domain of health-freaks, they are an easy, convenient and kid-friendly way for everyone to get all the breakfast protein they need – along with a vast array of other essential nutrients. Plant protein (such as hemp powder, wheatgrass and spirulina) can be used to provide a healthier, ecologically and cruelty-free alternative to animal protein. All easy to find at most Bio Stores or online.
The liquid consistency of smoothies also allows you to absorb all available nutrients more effectively. You can add multivitamins and other supplements that people sometimes forget to take. Texture, taste and colour can be varied to appeal to all ages and taste buds. Buying your own produce puts you in charge of quality control and degree of sweetness.Simple and quick to prepare and consume, you’ll be surprised how quickly whizzing up a family size batch of smoothies becomes part of your new breakfast routine!
For nutritional consultations on a wide range of health issues, including finding the perfect meal solutions, contact Susan Tomassini, Licensed Nutritionist BSc (Hons) Dip BCNH @ 06 17481114 or visit www.foodwise.life for your personalized nutritional program!
This smoothie from The Clever Kitchen is the perfect way to get your healthy breakfast protein fix!
Super Clean Green Smoothie
2 cups coconut water
½ cup frozen spinach
Juice of 1 lime
¼ of an avocado
1 Tbsp. wheatgrass powder, hemp powder, spirulina or other protein powder.
2 pitted dates (optional- for a sweeter version)
Small slice of ginger
Optional; 1 tbsp. Maca powder
Put all the ingredients in a high-speed blender and whizz to a smooth consistency. Pour into a glass, sprinkle with desiccated coconut on top, and decorate with a strawberry on the side of the glass.