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Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?

Since childhood we’ve been exposed to the messaging that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. However, is there enough evidence to back this almighty claim?

Is breakfast essential? Well, it actually depends…

Nutrition is incredibly individual and there is no one correct way of eating. It really depends on you, your lifestyle and your preferences. However, there are proven nutritional benefits of breaking the fast in the morning:

  • Breakfast often contains many key nutrients for health including dietary fibre, calcium, iron, folate, potassium as well as vitamins A and C.
  • Fuelling your body in the morning assists with memory, mood, energy levels and concentration for the day ahead.
  • Breakfast can help to stabilise blood sugar levels.
  • Breakfast may improve and sustain metabolism.
  • A morning meal reduces the possibility of overeating energy-dense foods later in the day.
  • Those who regularly eat breakfast tend to maintain a healthier weight than those who don’t.

So, while there is no one right way to eat, having a breakfast meal can be a helpful tool for a range of reasons. Despite these reasons, many people avoid breakfast or choose not to have it. You may not be hungry first thing in the morning. You may not notice a difference in energy levels or sugar cravings. You may even be able to eat a balanced diet within your other meals at other times of the day. These are all perfectly valid reasons not to have a traditional breakfast.

If you’re wanting to have breakfast more consistently, but find there are barriers in the way, these are some strategies to help build the breakfast habit.

Barrier 1: I don’t have time for breakfast

If your morning is jam-packed with tasks before rushing out the door, don’t fret. Revising your morning routine to squeeze in a breakfast meal can be a great first step These are some ways to help fit breakfast in:

  • Setting your alarm 10-15 minutes earlier to quickly whip up some toast or cereal.
  • Choose options you can prepare the night before to save extra time (think bircher muesli or overnight oats, savoury muffins or veggie fritters, boiled eggs and chia puddings).
  • Don’t have time to cook and eat a meal? Try blending up a smoothie so you can easily sip on it while you get ready for work.
  • If you take public transport, purchase a plastic container that fits your chosen breakfast – there are some awesome options out there now (think two-section containers that store yoghurt and muesli separate to each other).
  • If you prefer a later breakfast at work, buy some easy-to-store options that you can have on hand at work so that you can make something to eat at your desk once you arrive.

 

Barrier 2:  I’m not hungry in the mornings!

Depending on how you feel in the morning, you may not necessarily feel like eating initially after waking and that’s ok. Breakfast is all about breaking the fast, regardless of the time. Timing is a personal choice and dependant on your daily eating pattern.

The most important thing to consider is what allows you to be consistent with your health goals. If you’re not hungry in the mornings but you get to 10am ravenous and opting to have a large coffee and croissant, it may be worth planning something healthier at this time instead. If you’re only hungry at 10am, there’s no need to eat earlier but plan a more nutritious option to break to your fast.

Barrier 3: I don’t know what to have for breakfast.

Not knowing what to eat is one of the most common reasons people miss breakfast. It’s easy to feel trapped into ‘cereal and milk’ or ‘toast’, but there are many more options to choose from once you know the building blocks of a balanced breakfast:

High fibre carbohydrates
Give your body the fuel it needs to get through your working day by having some carbohydrates, preferably carbs that are high in their fibre content. This will help in providing your body and brain with some fuel as well as helping to sustain your blood sugar levels.

Protein
Including a source of protein at breakfast will help to manage your appetite levels and keep hunger at bay until the next opportunity you have to eat. This is because protein takes quite a long time to break down in your stomach and usually makes you feel more satisfied.

Healthy Fats
Fat rich foods can be a great way to add texture and flavour to your breakfast meal. Fats are naturally quite energy dense so it is important to be aware of portions when consuming foods such as avocado, nuts and seeds, nut butters and oils.

Vegetables
While veggies tend to make their grand appearance at lunch and dinner meals, cooked tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, fresh baby spinach or capsicum are great options for breakfast and can help you reach your daily target of five serves of vegetables.

Healthy Breaky Ideas:

  • 2-3 Weet-Bix or 1 cup high fibre cereal with light milk and berries
  • Fruit-based smoothie made with milk, yoghurt and LSA mix or chia seeds
  • 1 sachet of quick oats porridge made with milk and served with grated apple
  • 2 slices seedy grain toast, ¼ avocado and 1 tbsp goats or feta cheese
  • ½ cup toasted or untoasted muesli with 150g yoghurt
  • 1 slice wholemeal toast and small tin baked beans

Whatever your barriers are to eating a healthy and nutritious breakfast, there are always some trouble-shooting ways to work around them. Starting the day with a breakfast meal (no matter what time you get hungry for it) tends to lead to a good momentum to carry you through the rest of the day.

 

If you’d like more support in planning and preparing a nutritious breakfast, the team of Accredited Practising Dietitians at The Healthy Eating Clinic can help. Call us on 02 6174 4663.


At The Healthy Eating Clinic, we want to equip you with habit-based nutrition advice so that you can eat well for the rest of your life! Make an appointment today