We all know how important breakfast is for our body and mind, which is good news if you love breakfast and all the delicious opportunities on offer, but bad news if you find brekkie an absolute chore.
Either way, breakfast can become unenjoyable (or even more so) if it leaves you feeling tired or weighed down.
To help make breakfast the filling, fuelling meal it's supposed to be and make mornings a more enjoyable experience, we asked two health experts to share easy, healthy breakfast swaps.
"Breakfast is that one meal of the day that you simply can't afford to miss. Not only does breakfast fire up your metabolism, but it sets you on a roll for a balanced day ahead," accredited practising dietitian Jemma O'Hanlon told The Huffington Post Australia.
Nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullin agrees, saying what you eat (or don't eat) for breakfast affects what foods you eat for the rest of the day.
"Breakfast helps to stabilise blood sugar in the morning after an approximate 12-hour fast. This helps set the tone for the rest of your day's eating," Bingley-Pullin told HuffPost Australia.
"For instance, if you skip breakfast, come 10am you will seek an energy boost which often comes in the form of sugar. This won't satisfy you and you may graze your way to lunch.
"Eating regularly, including breakfast and then an optional morning snack, helps keep hunger and energy balanced, and it's less likely to result in going off looking for 'emergency' fuel."
Missing breakfast is also a missed opportunity to get the vitamins and nutrients the body needs to function optimally.
"Breakfast is also important to get in some nutrients. If we skip breakfast and only survive on lunch and dinner, your body is unlikely to be getting all of the nutrition it needs to function optimally," Bingley-Pullin said.
But if you always feel heavy and sluggish after breakfast, it's no surprise that you want to bypass the meal completely. Here are some reasons why this can happen -- and what swaps you can make to help you feel lighter.
1. You're eating too fast
If you inhale your breakfast in a stressed state of mind instead of slowing down, it can make digesting a little harder, leading to feeling heavy and bloated.
"People may be eating too fast in a rush to get out the door," Bingley-Pullin said. "Rushing doesn't allow our body to digest food properly, which can lead to bloating and feeling uncomfortable."
Next time you're eating breakfast, slow down, remove distractions like the TV or your smartphone, and take more notice of how full you're feeling.
2. You're eating too much
"Eating too much at any time of the day can leave us feeling sluggish," O'Hanlon said.
"It's often when we go out for breakfast and have a bigger meal than we usually would that we can feel tired and bloated -- clear symptoms that we've eaten too much.
"Breakfast or brunch is now so popular and the meals we're served seem to be getting bigger and bigger. But we need to remember not to overdo things, even if we are having a late breakfast or early lunch."
To ensure you're eating an amount which will make you full, but not overfull, keep your portion to 1-2 serves of grains. This equals:
- 1-2 slices of whole grain toast
- ½-1 cup oats
- ⅔-1⅓ cups cereal
- ¼-½ cup muesli
"When we're at home, the trick is to serve up something that will leave us feeling satisfied, but not overfull. And something is always better than nothing," O'Hanlon said.
"If you're feeling sluggish, chances are you might have overdone it on the portion size, and perhaps the following day look to reduce your portion slightly, or choose a lower kilojoule option."
3. Your breakfast is too high in fat
According to Bingley-Pullin, a breakfast high in saturated fat -- such as bacon and eggs -- can leave people feeling heavy and sluggish.
"If you're having a fried breakfast such as bacon and eggs, the fat content alone may cause feelings of heaviness," Bingley-Pullin said.
"Try a plant-based breakfast if the animal-based meal is causing feelings of heaviness, such as avocado on toast, almond milk smoothie, hummus and tomato on toast, or scrambled tofu."
As always, if you find yourself constantly feeling bloated, sluggish or sick after eating, see a medical professional.
Here are easy breakfast swaps to help you feel lighter (but still full) after breakfast.
- Swap fried eggs for poached or boiled eggs
- Use one serve of fruit per smoothie instead of 3-4
- Swap granola or refined cereal for raw rolled oat-based muesli
- Swap thick white bread for whole grain bread or sourdough
- Try plant-based milk instead of cow's, as an alternative
- Drink coffee with just a dash of milk, instead of a full cup of milk
- Swap a big brekkie (bacon, fried eggs, white toast, butter, hash brown) for a vegetarian brekkie (poached eggs, whole grain toast, mushrooms, spinach, avocado)
- Swap waffles with ice cream and maple syrup for a Bircher muesli with fresh fruit
- Swap full fat yoghurt for reduced or no fat yoghurt on your muesli
- Swap banana bread and butter for a slice of fruit toast with plant spread
- Swap canned/stewed fruits in syrup for fresh melon and strawberries
- Swap a large chocolate milk for a homemade fruit smoothie
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