The importance of breakfast has long been a part of the prevailing wisdom, and the habit of eating breakfast has always been a marker of a healthy lifestyle.
Eating a healthy breakfast regularly influences brainpower and physical energy on a day-to-day basis. It also affects health over the longer term as studies have drawn associations with reducing risks of heart disease and strokes, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.
Skipping breakfast doesn’t equal weight loss. Research shows not eating breakfast can lead to weight gain as breakfast-skippers are more likely to consume easily accessible but unhealthy snacks to get themselves through to lunchtime. They may also forget about portion size when it comes to lunch just because they are so hungry.
Make time for breakfast. It just takes a bit of planning and preparation to fit breakfast in. It helps to do as much preparation as you can the night before. Before you go to bed, set up your kitchen for breakfast. Soak the oats and slice the fruit so you don’t have to do it in the morning. Cook extra maize meal porridge for the next day’s breakfast when making supper, or boil some eggs the night before. Planning can make breakfast quick and easy.
Most people find something they like amongst the range of foods we generally eat for breakfast, but there are no hard and fast rules. It doesn’t matter whether you eat the same things as others for breakfast – it just matters that you have a healthy start to the day. This means having a minimally processed starchy food, fruit or vegetable and combining it with at least one other food group.
There are a lot of expensive foods presented to us as ideal for breakfast, that are not healthy – there are breakfast cereals and cereal bars and biscuits, jams and spreads stacked with sugar that we should avoid.
There are many people who question the advice to eat when they don’t feel hungry. You do not have to sit down to a big bowl of porridge at 5.30am to have had breakfast. You can stagger your healthy breakfast over a three-hour period: An unsweetened, low-fat yoghurt just before you leave home; a banana en route to work and a peanut butter sandwich on brown bread before you start work would constitute ‘breakfast’.
It is important for those who are overweight and obese to follow a sensible, results-driven weight loss programme. Children, adolescents and adults who eat breakfast have better weight outcomes and lower risk of overweight and obesity. Skipping breakfast often means feelin the need for mid-morning snacks laden with sugars, fat and salt, or to over-eat at lunchtime.
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Studies have shown that children who eat breakfast perform better at school than those who skip it. It helps to make breakfast a family activity and involve children in preparing breakfast and eating together. Parents also need to ensure that healthy breakfast options that their children like to eat are available in the house.
lanning for breakfast, from drawing up meal plans and a food budget to shopping for affordable, healthy options and preparing the night before, can help to avoid breakfast becoming a hassle. When you make breakfast an important and enjoyable part of your family routine, you model healthy lifestyle choices and behaviour that not just benefits your children through their school and study years, but can become a healthy habit for their lifetimes.
(Information from National Nutrition & Obesity Week)
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