Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day and I know the science behind it!
Eating within 2 hours of waking jump starts your metabolism. Studies have shown that skipping breakfast increases cardio metabolic risk which means that you are more likely to become overweight or obese, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels and go on to develop heart disease later in life.
Furthermore in another study where two groups of people ate exactly the same food but one group ate more at breakfast and the second group ate more at dinner, those who ate more at breakfast had lower rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol and were a healthier weight. This suggests that eating your main meal early has protective health benefits as it kick starts your metabolism.
Fuelling your body at the start of the day with enough energy to fuel your activities makes sense, therefore eating a large meal in later in the day or having evening snacks isn’t helpful as you are relaxing and are about to go to sleep.
There is a lot of research that has shown that Children who eat breakfast get better exam results at school, they can concentrate better in class and have improved memory. They perform better in general hence the introduction of breakfast clubs in many schools.
So what if your kids are not hungry in the mornings? Look at what time they eat in the evening. Eating dinner late or snacking in the evening keeps blood sugar levels elevated which doesn’t allow hunger to kick-in in the morning. Kids bodies (and ours) need to fast overnight, try and allow at least 12 hours without food before breakfast.
However the most common query my clients often ask me is ‘what should my children be eating for breakfast?’
Carbohydrate rich sweetened breakfast cereals or white bread toast smothered with jam, honey or chocolate spread are definitely not what you want your children to start their day with. These refined carbohydrates provide energy which is rapidly converted into sugar and causes a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. The body then follows with a massive insulin surge and blood sugar levels drop to combat it. This is sometimes called a sugar rush and effects behaviour, concentration and results in a desire to eat within an hour or two after eating.
Starting the day with protein is a great idea. It helps develop muscle mass for growth and development and regulates metabolism. Add a carbohydrate - wholegrain is best - such as bread, cereal, rice or grains. Also don’t forget that breakfast is our first opportunity to get fruit or veggies in, missing out here makes it difficult to meet your child’s 5 a day target. If you can include a healthy fat too, you are on to a winner. My favourites are avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
My balanced nutritious breakfast suggestions are:
For when you’ve got time:
- Omelettes, add cheese and any veggies you like, I love onion, spinach, peppers and mushroom.
- Scrambled egg, salmon, avocado and wholegrain toast.
- Dippy eggs and soldiers with a side of fresh cucumber and cherry tomatoes.
- Protein pancakes or American waffles - make a batter with eggs, whizzed up oats (to make a flour) and a banana.
For when time is short:
- A toasted wholegrain bagel, with cream cheese and smoked salmon.
- Greek yoghurt, fruit and unsweetened breakfast cereal.
- Overnight oats soaked in milk, topped with berries and my Omega 3 Granola mix
- Unsweetened cereal topped with nuts and seeds, dried fruit and milk.
Breakfast on the go:
- Homemade granola bars - making them yourself means you can add significantly less sugar and adding milk powder boosts the protein further!
- A smoothie made with fruit, Greek yoghurt, a splash of milk, nut butter and a sprinkle of chia or flaxseed.
- Peanut, almond, or cashew nut butter on wholegrain toast and a banana.
- Homemade blueberry breakfast muffins
- Avocado, banana, mango and Greek yoghurt smoothie