Starting the day with a healthy breakfast is crucial for your health in the long-term. Yet, if there’s a meal to be skipped, it is most likely to be breakfast. “There are a number of reasons why people skip breakfast,” says spokesperson for the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) Abby Courtenay, who is also a registered dietician. ”This is why it’s so important to bust the myths around breakfast so South Africans can make a healthy breakfast a happy, lifetime habit.”
Myth #1 I am skipping breakfast to lose weight
There are a host of studies that show people who have healthy breakfast habits have better weight outcomes than those who skip this meal. Not eating breakfast puts you at risk of grabbing convenience foods with low nutritional value to help you make it through to lunchtime. Feeling starving by lunchtime also causes you to blow out proportions and overeat. “It’s a common belief that if you want to lose weight, you should skip breakfast,” says registered dietician and ADSA spokesperson Kim Rutgers. “This is far from the truth. Skipping any meal will mean important nutrients like vitamins and minerals will be missed.” Effective, and sustainable, weight loss and management is instead achieved through healthy food choices, which includes breakfast.
Myth #2 I don’t have time in the morning for breakfast
For most of us, the morning is far more time-stressed in comparison to supper. However, planning, preparation and smart food choices will go a long way in ensuring you have breakfast. Abby advises that “From a time perspective, drinking is often quicker than sitting down to a full meal, so my suggestion is a nutritious smoothie. “Blend a small banana, oats, sugar-free peanut butter and low fat milk. Baby spinach is an optional extra. Not only is this the quickest meal, but it contains balanced portions of fruit, vegetables, minimally processed grains and healthy plant fats.”
If you plan ahead, breakfast can also be made the night before. Beat the clock by soaking your oats, cutting fruit and boiling eggs during your supper preparation so it’s as easy as possible to make breakfast a quick, enjoyable family meal.
Myth #3 I can’t eat breakfast, I don’t wake up hungry
Many people question the advice to eat when they don’t yet feel hungry, but breakfast doesn’t have to be immediate or done all in one go. It can take place during the two or three hours after waking. “Swap your smaller mid-morning snack and breakfast around. For example, eat a fruit when you are getting ready for work or school and then enjoy a bigger, more complete meal at around 10am. This way, you are getting in all the food and nutrients you need while still honouring your body’s natural hunger cues.”
Myth #4 I can’t eat breakfast, I don’t like cereals or eggs
A healthy breakfast doesn’t have to be traditional or contemporary breakfast foods. If you don’t like them, don’t eat them; other healthy food choices make a great breakfast. It’s also important to keep in mind that many processed foods marketed as breakfast foods can be laden with sugar and are nutrient poor, and not the healthy options. “Use up your leftovers for breakfast,” says Abby. “Why not have leftover mince on toast with fresh tomato slices or use your leftover pumpkin to make pumpkin fritters?”
When it comes to what a healthy breakfast should consist of, Kim agrees: “The three main nutrient groups are carbohydrates, proteins and fats. When all three of these macronutrients, in the right proportions, are included in one meal, you are getting in a balanced, nutritious meal.”
Myth #5 Not eating breakfast saves us money
In the short term, reducing your food bill by skipping breakfast is a folly that will play out in your future and cause unforeseen health expenses. Studies have shown that people who regularly eat healthy breakfasts are at lower risk for expensive conditions like obesity, hypertension and heart disease. The issue is rather about how to make breakfast more affordable. According to Abby, healthy eating does not have to be expensive. “It may take a little extra planning, but when you are in the routine of eating well, you will actually save money. Consider how much you can save with fewer store-bought convenience foods, takeaways and eating out.”
Top tips for affordable, healthy breakfasts include:
- Shop around for bargains.
- Buy bulk where possible and share these purchases with family and friends.
- Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables; not only will you save money, but you will get fresher, tastier produce and contribute to the reduction of your carbon footprint.
- Use your leftovers.
- Draw up meal plans and budgets; proper planning reduces costs.
- Single portion items, for instance single serving tubs of fruit or yoghurt, are often more expensive than buying a large tub of yoghurt. Decant the yoghurt into reusable containers if you need to travel with it.
- Ready-to-eat cereals cost more than double the price of maize meal, oats and Mabele porridge. Save money by making your own muesli instead of store-bought options.
For more information on how breakfast is the best way to start your day, visit the National Nutrition & Obesity Week 2018 website, nutritionweek.co.za, for more tips and recipes.
To find a dietitian in your area, visit adsa.org.za.
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