Breakfast is one meal that comes with certain expectations. Canadians typically have a particular idea about what is ‘normal’ to have on the table in the morning hours. Pancakes, waffles, granola, yogurt, fruit, eggs and bacon are all classic breakfast foods. But are these really the best options to put into your fuel tank first thing in the morning?
Since the agricultural revolution grains have had a monopoly over our plates and diets. The modern diet consists of a huge amount of refined flours, grains, wheat, soy, and corn. It’s not uncommon to see a standard diet of toast or cereal for breakfast, sandwich or soup and crackers for lunch and pasta or a rice dish for dinner. This type of high refined carbohydrate diet has the ability to alter your sleep cycle (1), create blood sugar irregularities (2), increase fatigue, irritability and anxiety all while causing your body to store unhealthy fat. This is one major reason why the Paleo movement is so easy to get behind; it causes you to ditch these highly refined grains and sugars and get back to eating healthy protein, good fats and valuable vegetables.
Why is breakfast so important?
I’m going to preface with saying that this applies to the general population. For highly aware individuals that can adjust their meals for intermittent fasting without any blood sugar consequence, do what you may. However, for the rest of the population that are high stress, high anxiety, have poor hormone regulation etc etc breakfast is undeniably important. Studies show that skipping breakfast is related to cardiovascular disease and on a more visual level; weight gain around the mid-line (3). Furthermore, WHAT you eat for breakfast is even more important.
Ditch the cereal, refined pancake and waffle mix and granola.
High protein breakfasts have been shown to increase cognitive ability, regulate blood sugar, encourage weight loss and increase satiety (4). How good does that all sound?! Not only will you feel happier, you’ll be healthier, and your brain will function better. No longer will you have to trudge through the morning hours, one hand on the mouse the other holding a large americano. Beyond that, you’ll make better food choices throughout the day. Let me explain how this works. A high protein / lower carb breakfast will stabilize your blood sugar, where as cereal or toast has the ability to spike your blood sugar, causing your body to respond with a flush of insulin. After this cascade of hormone release the blood sugar drops just as quickly as it rose which makes you feel the need for a sugary mid-morning snack. Managing your blood sugar manually- through the diet, eradicates this hormone roller-coaster ride.
Dinner for breakfast.
I know, I know, this sounds weird already. I’m not saying you have to give up eating pancakes and waffles but maybe they shouldn’t be breakfast foods anymore. What should be encouraged for breakfast is something high quality; lean protein (grass-fed meat, organic eggs – if you can tolerate, wild fish, or a good protein powder), healthy fats (fish oil, flax oil, chia seeds, avocado, olive oil) and organic vegetables (preferably green).
My favorite breakfast is Spolumbos spicy chicken sausage, mixed sauteed vegetables (zucchini, chard, carrots, onions) with either some butternut squash or spaghetti squash and 1/2 an avocado. On a bed of arugula or topped with Hotchkiss microgreens.
If this is a little hard to swallow maybe start by having an egg frittata with chopped peppers, onions, zucchini and maybe add a slice of good quality beef or pork bacon. Or make a morning smoothie with a scoop of protein powder, 1/2 avocado, 1 tbsp ground flax, spinach, kale, a scoop of almond butter, some coconut oil, almond or coconut milk and a handful of berries. For more breakfast ideas click here.
It may seem a little weird at first, but really, this archaic vision of breakfast is not doing anyone any good. With almost 40% of the population potentially having diabetes (5) I think we can safely say that this traditional way of eating isn’t working anymore. Abolish the notion of what a typical breakfast should look like and cook up some protein and vegetables. Your body will love you for it.
I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, CHN™ and have a transcript in Iridology from the Canadian Institute of Iridology. I achieved my diploma with honors in holistic nutrition at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in Calgary, Alberta. My vast knowledge of supplementation has been acquired from working in naturopathic clinics, health food stores and ongoing education through webinars, books and podcasts. It is important to me to have up to date information on the newest nutritional research and popular diets. I have also completed my 200hr yoga teacher training in Brazil in 2013 with Define Yoga.
(1) Katagiri R1, Asakura K, Kobayashi S, Suga H, Sasaki S. Low intake of vegetables, high intake of confectionary, and unhealthy eating habits are associated with poor sleep quality among middle-aged female Japanese workers. PubMed.gov. J Occup Health. 2014;56(5):359-68. Epub 2014 Aug 28.
(2) Rueda Páez EV1, Maldonado Obando Ydel C2, Caballero Pérez LA3. [Figures performance of glycemia in type 2 diabetic patients with intake of two breakfast with the same amount of carbohydrates]. PubMed.gov. Nutr Hosp. 2015 Apr 1;31(4):1558-65. doi: 10.3305/nh.2015.31.4.8304.
(3) Cayres SU1, Júnior IF1, Barbosa MF2, Christofaro DG1, Fernandes RA1. Breakfast frequency, adiposity, and cardiovascular risk factors as markers in adolescents. PubMed.gov. Cardiol Young. 2015 Feb 10:1-6
(4) Lobley GE1, Holtrop G2, Horgan GW2, Bremner DM1, Fyfe C1, Johnstone AM1. Responses in gut hormones and hunger to diets with either high protein or a mixture of protein plus free amino acids supplied under weight-loss conditions. PubMed.gov Br J Nutr. 2015 Mar 26:1-17.
(5) 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes in the United States