In my last article, I explained the manner in which nutrient density and satiety have been unwittingly sacrificed at the altar of convenience. With a little creativity, it is possible to meet the need for sustenance and convenience. Read on to discover three tips for building your own optimal breakfast template.
As I have mentioned before, there is no one-size-fits-all in any realm of our existence - least of all when it comes to food. I have included a few examples of adaptations below, where necessary. I suggest that you see which one best aligns with your health status and activity levels, experiment and take note of how you feel. What follows could be considered as starting points for your experiments, not hard and fast rules. Adjustments may need to be made depending on how you feel.
Eat soon after rising. As a mother of small children, I know all too well how tempting it can be to put off breakfast until later. Having breakfast within an hour of waking will vastly improve your mood, put a spring in your step at the school gates and prevent your blood sugar from plummeting. It is easy to forget that eating dinner in the early evening and then sleeping (which is, of course, a fasted state) means that our bodies have gone without food for up to 12 hours. NOTE: Although it is a wonderful tool for certain health outcomes, intermittent fasting is an exception here and deserves a dedicated article.
Track your macronutrients - at least in the very beginning. This is the key to feeling satisfied until your next main meal and, therefore, more energised and alert. It is a lot easier than it appears at first and there are many apps to help you do so, some of which are free - providing you stay away from the paid bells and whistles upgrades within. Protein and fat are of the utmost importance and I recommend that you place greater emphasis on them by ensuring you get the right amounts of each before determining your carbohydrate needs. For optimal satiety and blood sugar stabilization, aim for 20-30g of protein. Next, free yourself from the notion that healthy fats will make you fat and eat them as your appetite dictates. Naturally-occurring fats in meat from exclusively grass-fed animals, wild-caught oily fish and wild-caught seafood, unpasteurised full fat dairy from grass-fed cows (if tolerated), eggs (including and especially the yolks), avocados and nuts and seeds are delicious and nourishing and deserve pride of place in your diet and on your breakfast table. Finally, adjust your carbohydrate intake accordingly. Carbohydrates tend to be the most customisable macronutrient as needs vary from person to person. A person with cognitive/neurological issues would most likely thrive on very little carbohydrate, a Type 2 diabetic would do best on a low carbohydrate regimen while a high carbohydrate template is more appropriate for an athlete, for example. If you are generally in good health and happy with your. weight, a moderate carbohydrate approach is best for most people. This works out at 100-200g a day for men eating 2600 calories and 75-150g for women eating 2000 calories. Starchy plants (like sweet potatoes, white potatoes - if tolerated - and butternut squash) and fruit are great options. Tracking how much of certain foods you need to eat to meet your macronutrient requirements for a week will help you get the hang of it so that you need not rely on apps longterm.
Think outside the box. It is important to start with what feels right for you and titillates your tastebuds. Choking down any recommendations made here is a sure-fire path to an unsustainable breakfast menu, not to mention a miserable start to one’s day. I have mentioned before that I like to think of food as something that nourishes, sustains or supplies and anything that does not fulfil this criteria as a food-like substance. Once you have purged your kitchen of the latter, a good rule of thumb is to begin to view leftover lunches and dinners as potential breakfasts for the day after. Though worlds apart from a typical Western breakfast, they are immensely satisfying and require little more than reheating and the addition of a different vegetable, sauce or even a bowl of fresh, seasonal berries to finish. Better still, scheduling batch cooking sessions at the weekends provides an array of breakfast options which can then be mixed and matched as the mood takes you. Melissa Joulwan has created a template for any time of day that you can use as is or draw inspiration from. At this time of year, you could also add a large batch of a hearty soup like salmon chowder to your repertoire. Leftover soup - made using bone broth as a base - is the ultimate fast comfort food and adjusting macronutrients is easily done by adding some diced leftover Sunday roast, crisped up leftover sweet potato or a drizzle of olive oil, for example, as needed.