Most of us have heard the phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” but whether this is really the case has recently been brought into question. Breakfast has long been hailed as essential for health, mainly as it was thought that:
a.) People who ate breakfast were usually slimmer
b.) That breakfast kick starts your metabolism in the morning and
c.) That skipping breakfasts may result in you eating more throughout the day.
However, some of these beliefs may not be quite as clear cut as we once were to believe. You can read all about the Big Breakfast Controversy in this great article from The Independent.
So, should I be eating breakfast every day?
From my standpoint, as a Registered Nutritionist, whether you’re a breakfast person or not is up to an individual to decide. I wouldn’t be forcing anyone to eat breakfast if they really didn’t want it BUT, it is important to realise that if you are skipping breakfast, then you may need to make up for a chunk of missing nutrients elsewhere in the diet. For example, the Government have recently increased the recommendations for fibre in the diet and breakfast is actually an ideal time to get in a good dose of the essential fibre that we’re so often lacking.
On top of this, the TYPE of breakfast you may be choosing matters! This is likely to affect your health, your energy levels, your nutrient intakes, your food choices later on and also your weight!
Many people I speak too are often after breakfast inspiration – instagram is of course brilliant for this. But so often people get stuck on having the same old food day in, day out for their breakfast and this can get very boring!
Nutritionist’s Top Ten Healthy Breakfasts:
Healthy breakfasts don’t have to be boring and so below is a list of my top ten healthy breakfasts which are indeed some of my favourite breakfast choices, along with why these are a good idea for a healthy start in the morning.
1.) Porridge with dried fruit and nuts
Perfect combo, especially on a winters morning. Quick and easy to make and can also easily combine all the main food groups if you’re clever – fruit, wholegrains, dairy and proteins! I like to use whole oats and I like to combine porridge with dried fruits such as apricots, sultanas or dried figs to give a nice sweet kick without the need for sugar. Walnuts are also good to include and help to make sure I’m getting a dose of Omega-3s with my brekkie too. Porridge is usually quite filling and combined with some dried fruits and nuts is a great source of fibre as well as energy, healthy fats, protein and plenty of vitamins and minerals.
2.) Overnight Oats
Same as above, but perfect for those summer months when the weather is a little warmer in the mornings. Also the quickest breakfast you can ever make. Check out my Overnight Oats recipe here.
3.) Scrambled egg with red pepper on wholegrain toast
Another delicious, balanced and fairly quick breakfast idea. The red pepper is to ensure you’re getting some of your 5 a day at breakfast time and the vitamin C in the pepper should also help with the absorption of iron from the egg. This ticks off at least 3 of your food groups – veg, wholegrains and proteins – and should make for a filling breakfast that keeps you going until lunchtime.
4.) Vegetable omelettes
This protein packed breakfast is so versatile. You can add whatever ingredients you want – tomatoes, peppers, spinach, potatoes, cheese – to help make this a really balanced meal in the morning. It’s also a quick one to do, and for those people who like to get their protein in in the morning it’s ideal. I would recommend including plenty of veggies, some potatoes (to add the energy and a portion of starchy foods) as well as some cheese to really balance out your brekkie.
5.) Yogurt with berries, oats (or granola) and seeds
This is one of my favourite go-to breakfasts. But it’s easy to see how it can be slightly unfulfilling if you’re not adding the extras such as oats and seeds. Fruit and yogurt alone isn’t likely to keep you very full for long, and a breakfast like that isn’t what I would call balanced, either. Adding some nuts or seeds and some oats or homemade granola/muesli helps to make sure this breakfast includes all four food groups – wholegrains, fruit, dairy and some protein – and means it’s packed with protein, zinc, fibre and vitamins and minerals for a perfect start to the day.
6.) Beans on wholegrain toast
OK, it doesn’t sound ideal, but this breakfast is actually pretty balanced, especially if you include a sprinkling of cheese on top. It’s also such a filling, warming and (for me) satisfying way to start the day. If you can, try to opt for low sugar beans which have a lot less added sugar in them than the regular ones. Beans count towards one of your 5 A Day and are also a source of protein and fibre. Adding a little cheese ticks off the dairy food group too and makes sure that you’ve got some added calcium in your breakfast too.
Smoothies can be a quick and efficient way to start your morning. Especially if you’re putting the effort in to make sure they aren’t JUST pure fruit and that they are, in fact, nice and balanced. A great way to have your smoothie is to focus it on vegetables (with a little fruit for that sweet kick), add some oats or yogurt and voila! Just remember though that blending fruit and vegetables will result in loss of some of the fibre. So it’s not ideal to be trying to always consume your fruit and veggies in this way. A smoothie will only count towards around 1 portion of your 5 a day. Read more from me on the difference between whole fruit vs juice.
8.) Peanut butter on a wholegrain bagel/rice cake or Ryvita
Peanut butter is such as great food. I’m a big fan! it’s also a perfect breakfast option if you like it and can be spread on crackers, toast, bagels, pitta breads, Ryvita – you name it. It’s also great in porridge FYI! Do try and go for the ones that are 100% peanuts (or whichever nut butter you choose) as these contain no added salt, sugar or oil. Additionally, it’s good to combine this breakfast with some fruit – I’d go for whatever is in season – which will tick off one of your 5 A day AND help you absorb some of the iron in the peanut butter too.
9.) Wholegrain, low sugar and fortified cereals
There are SO MANY cereals out there, it really can be a minefield. But ultimately you want to look on packs for cereals that are wholegrain, have a “no added sugar” claim and also those that are fortified with vitamins and minerals are also a bonus (this really does help us to meet our requirements at the end of the day). Try to avoid cereals that are advertised towards children as, unfortunately, these often have the highest levels of sugar in them. See my post on label reading for more info on choosing the best cereal options. Add some dried fruit (not sugar!) to add a sweet kick and some extra fibre and nutrients and serve with your milk of choice – ticking off three out of four food groups in one morning and with a very simple, no-cook option.
10.) Toasted fruit bread with a small fruit salad and yogurt
For me this is a more indulgent breakfast, but one I truly enjoy. I love the fruit breads that you can get available at the supermarkets with a light spread of butter. Combining this with some fruit and yogurt still helps you to get a few essential food groups – fruit, carbs, dairy – into your morning routine too.
Bonus Breakfast. A Grilled Full English ( of course!)
So, there you go. My Top Ten Healthy Breakfasts and FAVOURITE breakfast ideas all in one post. Of course there are SO many other options for breakfast that you can choose but these are my top 10 healthy breakfasts. Do send in some of your favourites so I can try them out, photograph them and maybe even write about them!