When it comes to healthy morning habits, I'm not one to preach the virtues of drinking a litre of warm lemon water, performing 17 sun salutations and meditating for an hour before starting your day. I love my morning coffee as much as the next person, and a morning workout for me generally consists of hitting the snooze button repeatedly for 20 minutes. But there is one morning ritual I will preach the merits of, and that's breakfast.
I know this advice is nothing new. We all get told we should eat breakfast -- in fact, the health and fitness industry sounds like one giant broken record when it comes to this topic. But it's for good reason; although perhaps not the reasons you might think...
Why is breakfast so important?
The main reason breakfast is so important is not, in fact, because it 'kickstarts the metabolism' as we're often told, but simply because of the affect that it has on what we eat for the rest of the day. Skipping breakfast means that our blood sugar levels are likely to drop to a hazardous level. Hazardous because when our blood sugar levels are really low, our body sends us less-than-polite signals that we need sugar and fat and the most calorie-dense foods we can find, fast.
So, despite our best intentions and plans for a salad sandwich and piece of fruit for lunch, all of a sudden we find ourselves ripping into a pie and chips with a chocolate milkshake on the side. Not only is this not great for our health, it also leaves us to deal with zero energy and a less-than-chirpy demeanour for the rest of the day. And the fun doesn't end there. We're then on a serious blood sugar rollercoaster which takes us from starving to carb binge to bloated and remorseful and back to starving again in record time.
But what if food just doesn't appeal first thing in the morning?
As important as breakfast is, I'm not going to try to force anyone to eat anything they don't want to, and that includes breakfast. And while I do think that sitting down and taking some time out to eat is the way to go ideally, if you just can't stomach food first thing in the morning, don't panic. Find something you can grab and take with you to work or wherever you're off to for the day and eat when you actually feel like it. Just make sure that you do eat once you start to feel like you're ready for it. The problem for many people is that they get so caught up with work, meetings, school drop offs, etc that before they know it, it's lunchtime and they're absolutely starving and ready to eat anything and everything in sight.
So, what should I eat?
Breakfast doesn't have to be perfect. Ideally it should be something which includes some high-fibre, low-GI carbs (e.g. wholemeal or multigrain toast, oats, muesli or other wholegrain cereal), some protein (e.g. eggs, yoghurt, milk, nuts or nut butter) and a bit of fruit or veg. This combination not only gives you a good dose of nutrients but also fills you up and keeps blood sugar levels stable. But if that's just not realistic, a piece of fruit (low GI carbs) and a latte (low GI carbs and protein) is far better than nothing.
This post was first published on Skye's blog.