Monday, January 12

Going with the Grain

You've all heard how important it is to eat breakfast. And yet, many people make a practice of skipping breakfast frequently or settling for a cup of coffee as they rush out the door. If this is you, consider the fact that you are depriving yourself of more than just a satisfied stomach. Skipping breakfast leads to crashing energy levels during the day, overeating at lunch and/or dinner, caffeine dependency, sugar cravings, and difficulty losing weight. It is proven that people who eat breakfast are more successful at losing and maintaining their weight than those that don't. If you find yourself tempted to snooze on your desk by mid-day or grabbing at snacks all day long, it's time to revamp your breakfast routine.

So what's for breakfast? We're all familiar with the usual culprits. I don't need to tell you that donuts, giant bagels, and sugary pastries are not going to serve you well in terms of your health or your waistline. So what serves us best first thing in the morning? The ideal choice is a breakfast that incorporates healthy complex carbohydrates and protein with a little bit of fat. One great way to cover your bases is to eat whole grains for breakfast in the form of a porridge or hot cereal. Cold cereals are tricky because most are made from mainly refined carbs and contain loads of sugar (and forms of sugar under various disguises of different names) and not much protein or fiber, never mind that they pack a lot of empty calories. Same goes for breads and bread products. But hot cereals and porridges, such as plain steel cut oatmeal or Bob's Red Mill brand whole grain hot cereals, are packed with fiber and protein and they are made from grains in their whole, original form, not refined grains that have been stripped of their integrity and nutritional value. Whole grains are proven to sustain energy levels for much longer than refined grains, thus keeping you full longer and curbing energy crashes that lead to cravings for snacks, sugar and caffeine. They also contain more vitamins, minerals, and fiber to keep your body healthy, strong, and functioning properly. To complete the picture of your whole grain breakfast, sprinkle on some chopped up nuts, ground flaxseed, or toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds for the ealthy fat that will keep you satisfied throughout the morning and into your day.

Like it sweet? Opt for a small amount of honey, maple syrup or other natural sweetener like brown rice syrup or agave nectar, but keep it to one tablespoon or less. Another option for added sweetness is to sprinkle on a small amount of dried fruit. Like it salty? You can use a light sprinkle of pure sea salt and any other savory spices you enjoy, or try sprinkling on some dried seaweed for an extra mineral boost. If that sounds crazy to you, don't worry, seaweed at breakfast is not for everyone....but you might want to try it sometime, it's delicious and incredibly nutritious. Believe it or not, seaweed is 20% protein by weight and is one of the most mineral-rich foods on the planet.

If you're ready to go further than oatmeal or high fiber hot cereal and get the amazing health benefits of a variety of whole grains in their original state, try making your own porridge with any combination of whole grains or just one grain solo. Some options are: brown rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, kasha (buckwheat), and barley. Simply purchase the grains in their original form (health food stores will have the ones that are less familiar to you), soak them for a few hours overnight or wash them well in warm water and drain, add 3 parts fresh water to 1 part grain in a pot, bring to a boil and then simmer covered for 20-30 minutes (depending on the grain). This can also be done the night before and then just heated up for breakfast; and you can make enough for several days at a time and just reheat some each morning in a pot on the stove. These grains are going to give you the biggest nutritional bang for your buck at breakfast, and while they take a little more time, they are well worth it. Season as described above and add a small amount of nuts or seeds for althy fat resulting in a delicious, nutritious, and balanced start to your day. You'll find yourself with more energy, fewer snacking urges, and less need for sugar and caffeine to keep you going. You will also likely notice that your weight loss efforts will get a big boost. What you eat at breakfast and how you feel as a result sets the tone for the rest of your day, so go with the grain and get off on the right foot!

Interested in finding out more about what foods are right for your own body and why? Looking for personalized information and support to help you change your eating and lifestyle choices in order to achieve your own specific goals for health and wellness? Contact me to set up a consultation:

No comments:

Post a Comment