What is the best breakfast? What should we eat to help us get to lunchtime without the hunger pangs, without raiding the biscuit tin or getting grouchy?
I love a KitKat. Doesn’t everyone? But KitKat for breakfast? Really? Those of you who have seen my latest LinkedIn post will know how utterly disappointed I was to see that Nestle have introduced a new chocolate KitKat breakfast cereal. Nestle, whose mission is to be “the world's leading nutrition, health and wellness company"...
How “bringing the chocolate bar to consumers’ morning meals” is in anyway aligned with the above mission statement, is, I find, hard to fathom...
I grew up in a household where my father made us breakfast everyday. I would wake up to the table laid, a cup of tea and a cooked breakfast. Every day. Then I met my husband who introduced me to cereal; the delights of Cocopops, Shreddies and Cheerios! Weaning my children (and husband) off sugary cereals has been one of my hardest foodie challenges. My daughter, now 29 and living in Berlin, Germany, still buys a pack of shreddies when she comes back to the UK. My husband will always reach for the cocopops on the hotel buffet...
However, ditching them at home has been a revelation. Read on to find out why!
Has breakfast always been so sweet?
Western diets have leaned more and more towards breakfasting on the sweet stuff since the 1950's, when glucose-spiking foods such as sugary cereal, toast or croissants and jam invaded our home. These sweet and starchy foods are converted into glucose in the blood and used as energy or stored in the liver and muscles.
Glucose spikes affect mood, energy levels and general health
The body responds to a glucose spike by releasing the hormone insulin. Insulin helps regulate your blood sugar preventing it from going to low or too high. When there is a spike in glucose, insulin causes the glucose to move from the blood to be stored either as fat or as glycogen in the liver and muscles to be used at a later stage.
We have a very clever body when it all works correctly!
However sweet foods can cause dramatic spikes, followed by alarming drops in glucose. So you feel high, full of energy and then suddenly low, lethargic, tired, irritable! And you'll have a renewed hunger, often craving more sweet foods so you can return to the high.
This is the rollercoaster which I'm sure we have all experienced.
How to steady the blood sugar rollercoaster
Switching to a savoury breakfast, or a wholewheat high-fibre cereal will help...
- steady glucose levels
- tame your hunger, reducing mid-morning hunger pangs and cravings
- concentrate and focus better on your work
- steady your energy levels
- improve hormonal balance and menopausal symptoms
- reduce vulnerability to Type 2 Diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.
Breakfast like a champion ... Kate Percy's Top 5 Tips
1. Go savoury. These are my favourites, in no particular order!
- eggs on wholemeal toast - scrambled, poached, boiled, omelette, whatever works for you. Pimp it up with some smashed avocado and smoked salmon. Check out my how to cook the perfect poached egg hack.
- tomatoes on toast -
batch cook some cheap tomatoes, halve them and place on a baking tray, season, sprinkle with a few dried herbs and bake slowly in the oven, or
chop up some tomatoes, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, herbs and a splash of balsamic vinegar and pile onto your toast
- mushrooms on toast
- bacon sarnie
- savoury pancakes with ham, egg and cheese or mushrooms and spinach (have you tried our mix-at-home buckwheat pancakes?)
- eat like a German - Germans breakfast on lovely rye bread or fresh rolls with toppings such as cheese, cold meats, smoked salmon, cream cheese, cucumber slices, tomatoes.
- if I have no time, then toast with almond or peanut butter is a go-to...
2. Can't face savoury?
- porridge or overnight oats with nuts and seeds, sweetened with cinnamon and dried or fresh fruit - choose lower GI fruit such as pear. Try this delicious recipe: Autumn Spiced Apple and Raisin Porridge.
- my homemade granola with Greek yoghurt (full fat always)
- birchermuesli with natural yoghurt (full fat) and grated fresh ginger.
3. Don't forget the healthy fats. Add avocado to your savoury breakfasts, almonds, walnuts sunflower seeds, flaxseed, chia seeds to porridge and yoghurt.
My dad used to make me sardines on toast for breakfast (#justsaying) - the ultimate healthy fats breakfast, or what I call the BRAINY BREAKFAST.
4. More fibre helps you feel fuller for longer. Don't forget that nuts and seeds are great sources of fibre. Also, it pays to invest in good bread; try wholemeal or seeded sourdough, or make your own in a breadmaker to save on the ££££.
5. Combining carbs with protein helps keep you fuller for longer. We were not told to 'go to work on an egg' for nothing. Adding protein to your breakfast helps lower the overall glycaemic index (the rate at which the glucose is absorbed into your bloodstream) of your breakfast. For instance, toast will be more sustaining eaten with nut butter, cheese or meat, rather than honey or jam. Porridge, more sustaining with chia seeds, nuts or nut butter.