Better break that fast!

A road side vendor selling locally cultivated guava near Gandi Nagar in Gujarat. File Photo: K.K.Mustafah   | Photo Credit: K_K_Mustafah

Do you start your day feeling slow, sluggish and completely deprived of energy, even after a good night's rest? Perhaps the solution lies in the relationship you have with your breakfast plate. Over the years, a great deal of research has established the impact of this nutritious meal on our long-term health and yet, the significance of it all continues to elude us. Here are some sensible reasons to refuel and re-energize every morning.

Replenishes your energy reserves:

On average, most people sleep between 6-8 hours. Your last meal of the day must have been a couple of hours before bed. So in effect, while you were winding down for the night and resting in slumber, your body has quite literally starved for 8-10 hours. "(After this), your brain needs glucose to function," says Dr.Geeta Dharmatti, Chief Dietician at the Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital, Pune. "If you miss breakfast, you're not only going to feel sluggish, but you're also most likely to find yourself craving something sweet to eat later in the day, as your body cries out for a quick fix to boost energy levels. However, as your body digests complex carbohydrates from a healthy meal, this will slowly release glucose into your blood stream, translating into long-term energy to help get you through the day."

Improves cognitive skills and supports growth:

A study conducted by Harvard University in conjunction with the Massachusetts General Hospital and Baltimore schools, discovered that students who ate breakfast regularly had improved their grades in subjects that required quick thinking and intense concentration such as mathematics. These children were also much less hyperactive, had reduced their absenteeism and late arrivals and even improved their social behaviour when compared to the kids who rarely ate this meal.

"Eating a nutritious breakfast can do wonders for your memory," says Dr Nupur Krishnan, Clinical nutritionist and Director of Bio-logics Nutrition Clinics in Mumbai. ( "It is very important that parents themselves don't skip breakfasts. Good eating habits start from home, so be a positive role model by making nutritious food choices. Carve out enough time for you and your child to enjoy this meal."

Keeps the weighing scale steady:

Researchers from the National Weight Control Registry in the US examined over 3,000 people who had managed to lose 30 kilos or more and who had kept this weight off for an average of 6 years. It was established that in addition to diet and exercise, over 78% of the people in this group had the habit of eating a healthy breakfast every day and this positive lifestyle change was an effective and rather simple weight control strategy. It's especially ironic when you consider how many people skip breakfast in the hope of losing weight! However, it ends up having just the opposite effect.

"Breakfast keeps you energetic and healthy as it provides the necessary nutrients boost and prevents bingeing on high calorie foods in latter part of the day. People who skip the meal while dieting to lose weight can trap themselves in a vicious cycle of eating disorders, even attracting problems such as anorexia nervosa, hair fall, memory loss, hypoglycaemia, headache and weakening eyesight," says Dr Nupur. "This will in turn weaken the immunity, leaving you vulnerable to colds, fever and flus."

Staves off diabetes, nutritional deficiencies:

Eating a regular breakfast will help keep Type 2 Diabetes at bay, says a recent US based study that examined over 3,000 young girls in the ages of 9-19. The study was conducted by the American Dietetics Association. It was established that girls who consistently ate breakfasts had a lower body mass index than those skipped it. The ones who skipped were also lacking in several key nutrients, especially fibre and calcium.

While there's no denying the many benefits of a healthy breakfast, here are some more tips to keep in mind.

Don't just drink: Eat!:

Most children tend to down a glass of milk in the mornings, while engaging in the mad rush to school, but Dr Nupur recommends a more solid fare. "Milk is not enough to provide all the nutrients," she says. "Aim for a boiled egg or omelette, idly or dosa, a veggie grilled sandwich, carrot halwa, cereal or porridge. Make good protein choices such as paneer sandwiches and vegetable or fruit smoothies. Even wheat puffs, fruits and coconut chips (with their healthy fat, good for growing children) can make for creative options for those who crave variety. These items are loaded with protein, fibre, important vitamins and minerals and a balance of carbohydrates, all of which is essential for growth (multiplication of the cells) and development (elongation of the cells)." There is a need to plan your meals well in advance, so that you can assemble it quickly and with minimal fuss.

Even for adults, sometimes breakfast is just a quick cup of coffee, grabbed in a rush while half-way out the door. "The idea of having a beverage with breakfast, especially coffee, is debatable," says Dr Geeta. "Coffee is a natural choice in the mornings as it is an excellent stimulant which helps you feel fresh and awake. However for the type of nutrition that you need at this time of day, coffee offers little benefit. Apart from being a diuretic (increases urination and dehydration), it also inhibits calcium absorption from protein rich substances such as milk and curd. If you can't survive without your cuppa, then at least have it black. Coffee lovers should rise early and leave a gap of an hour between coffee and your first meal of the day. A coffee break at 11.00 am ( mid-morning ) or post-lunch (2 hours after a meal) is an even better option."

A balanced breakfast provides more than just a great start to your day; consider it the most valuable investment you make towards a healthy body.

Start your day the ideal way with these delicious, healthy menu suggestions from our dietitians:

*Egg with chapati roll and fruit

*Oats with milk and fruit

*Milk and banana

*Idli + sambar + sprouts + dry fruits

*Poha with sprouts + milk

*Bread (2 slices) + Egg/Milk + whole fruit like apple or guava.

*A glass of milk with any cereal + fruit like berries /whole/dry fruits.

*Carrot kheer with nuts or muesli with nuts or fruit custard

*Green chutney or veggie sandwich.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 3:40:02 PM |

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