Have a healthy breakfast

Breakfast is an important meal because it is the first meal after a long period of no intake of food. Make the most of it through these practical suggestions on breakfast

BreakfastIn our childhood, our mothers always insisted that we do not leave the house without eating anything. "Have a glass of milk and a buttered toast" was a regular advice.

Though most of us are aware that good nutrition and a balanced diet are important components of overall health, many of us don't find time for one the most essential meal of their day - breakfast.

What is a breakfast and why it is so important?

"Breakfast" - the word itself helps us understand what it stands for. It is breaking the fast of seven to eight hours when we sleep during the night. Breakfast is the first meal one has in the morning and it breaks the night-long fast. Breakfast is one meal that one should never skip.

Your body is the vehicle of all your deeds. For your body to have any chance of keeping up with schedules, it is very important to supply it with the requisite energy. And it has to be in a good condition for whatever you want to do - working, talking or thinking. Hence we should fuel our body in the morning by eating a good healthy breakfast.

Breakfast provides 25 per cent of the total energy and nutrients required by the body. According to the food and nutrition experts at the American Dietetic Association, eating breakfast not only aids in weight management but also fuels the body to help provide energy, better concentration and problem-solving ability throughout the day. Breakfast boosts our brain-power, keeps us slim and lifts our mood. Eating the largest meal in the morning and decreasing the quantum of food intake throughout the day, is considered good for your overall health.

Breakfast Suggestions

An ideal breakfast contains a perfect combination of carbohydrates, protein and fibre. You can include

  • Light and soft idlis with sambhar
  • Plain dosas with green chutney
  • Milk with cornflakes/wheatflakes
  • Vegetable poha
  • Upma
  • Pancakes with a milkshake

Sprouts, two slices of brown bread toast with a glass of coconut water or vegetable omelette with a bran muffin and orange juice make an ideal low-fat breakfast.

Some people prefer to have parathas in the morning. I would suggest the addition some leafy veggies in the rotis to increase the nutritive value. One can stuff mix veggies or greens like fenugreek leaves, mint or spinach in the parathas and have it with curds.

Even if you are in a hurry, eat something - be it a piece of fruit or a whole wheat bread sandwich to munch while you run out the door. Try to prepare your breakfast the night before. Put oatmeal into a thermos of hot water or milk, and let it sit overnight. In the morning you shall have hot cooked oatmeal ready to eat. Similarly a hard boiled egg can be made available in the morning. This will prevent your body from going into starvation mode and decreasing its metabolism, which will result in the body being unable to expend energy. Or if you are trying to lose weight, your body would be unable to burn fat.

Eat healthy foods like fruits that are high in fibre - apple, watermelon, orange, sweet lime and papaya. Tea, coffee or cola can be replaced by fresh fruit juice, coconut water, buttermilk, milkshake or even a plain glass of milk. As the whole idea is to eat healthy and get energy, rather than put on an additional flab.

Sunday breakfast can be made special; something that the whole family can look forward to. It can be had at a leisurely pace and at an hour later than week-day breakfast. The entire family having breakfast together gives a good start to the day. The family members can catch up on each other's schedule for the day - discuss the latest news or just chat. You can make a dish that is everyone's favourite and enjoy the praises from your family members.

Children specially should have a healthy breakfast before they leave for school. Parents should ensure that the child gets up sufficiently early to get ready and have enough time for a proper breakfast. Don't force the kid to have a plain glass of milk every day. Make a milk-shake instead; you will give him the benefit of milk as well as fruits. Vary breakfast menu and include his favourite dishes once in a while. He will look forward to the meal if you do that. Recent research has revealed that the overnight fast leaves our brain starved. If our breakfast does not contain adequate glucose, certain brain functions can be adversely affected, most notably memory.

Healthy eating habits are more contagious than you think. Start yourself and more members of your family will join in. Breakfast can either brighten our day or spoil it. People must understand that the metabolic rate is highest in the morning. Therefore, all you need is to eat something in the morning, and remain refreshed and energised through the day. Here is a protein rich breakfast recipe. Enjoy.

Pancakes

Ingredients

1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup bran, 1/4 cup maida (optional), 1/4 cup quick-cooking oats, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 cup milk, 1 egg white, 2 tp olive oil, Honey for accompaniment

Method

Mix together whole wheat flour, bran, quick cooking oatmeal (uncooked and ground fine in a blender), baking powder, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl; set aside.

In another bowl, beat together milk and egg-white. Add to flour mixture and stir to mix well.

Heat a large skillet to medium heat; brush with olive oil. Pour batter onto skillet. Cook over medium heat about 2 minutes on each side or until the top bubbles; turn and cook briefly on the other side. Serve with honey.

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Deepshikha Agarwal
Deepshikha Agarwal is a Mumbai-based dietician and sports nutritionist. She writes nutrition-related columns in newspapers and conducts corporate workshops. She also teaches and conducts lectures on diet and wellness isues.