They say you should eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and have dinner like a pauper. The idea here, of course, is that the first meal of the day should be relatively large, and filled a wide variety of healthy choices. This ensures sufficient energy to keep the mind and body functioning at their best for the entire day.
To maintain a fit body and mind, one does not need to pop a magic pill or follow the latest “lose oodles of weight in a week” diet. It’s important to eat right, and what better way can there be to give your day the right start? Since it literally means ‘breaking the fast’, the first meal of the day is essential to refuel the body with nutrients. After an overnight gap of 8-10 hours since the last meal, the body is starved for energy. But everybody is in a hurry in the morning, and skipping breakfast seems to be one of the easiest ways to save time. Grabbing a slice of toast and downing a cup of coffee before rushing off to work in the morning only means an empty stomach until almost half the day is gone. This brings down the sugar levels in the blood, and can lead to binging on unhealthy choices later in the day. It sets up the worst type of cycle for the body’s metabolism, sends the wrong signals to the brain, and can definitely trigger overeating.
Here are some tips to make sure your breakfast gives you a healthy start to the day:
• Plan your meal. Start by waking up when the alarm goes off, instead of repeatedly hitting the snooze button! Getting out of bed on schedule means you’ll have the time to sit down for a real meal before heading out for the day.
• Stock up the kitchen with a wide choice of cereals, fruits and other healthy breakfast foods.
• Start by drinking at least one glass of water. This not only flushes out the toxins in the body, but gets you hydrated after the overnight shutdown.
• Switch to a healthier breakfast cereal such as muesli or oatmeal instead of the sugary choices.
• Can’t do without your morning cup of tea or coffee? Try green tea or decaffeinated coffee as an alternative.
• When adding milk to the cereal or tea/coffee, low-fat or skimmed milk is the healthier option.
• Use honey to sweeten instead of sugar; it not only contains fewer calories, but also aids digestion.
• Instead of using the whole egg for the omelette, use only the whites. It’s a good protein-rich option without all the cholesterol.
• Instead of grated cheese, chop up some tomatoes, capsicum, onions or mushrooms and add to the beaten egg whites for a healthier omelette. Freshly crushed peppercorns give it some zing!
• Poha, idli and upma are healthy Indian choices. Dosas don’t need to be scratched off the breakfast menu entirely. But try using olive oil for cooking. And chutneys made from leafy vegetables are a good accompaniment.
• No meal is complete without fruits. Fresh fruit is better than juice, and if you’re having cereal, adding fruit to the bowl sweetens it right up.
• Replace those buttery scones and croissants in your bread basket with whole wheat or multi-grain bread.
Contrary to popular myth, skipping breakfast won’t help you lose weight. Eating less food slows the metabolic rate of the body, making it burn calories slower. Consuming umpteen cups of coffee to survive on an empty stomach until lunch-time only damages the stomach, and ultimately brings down your energy levels. It’s easy to incorporate healthier options to your kitchen and get the right start to the day. Keep in mind that changes need to be made gradually so that your body has ample time to get adjusted. Soon breaking the fast the healthy way will become a tasty habit!