Breakfast: it all starts here.
Breakfast isn’t just a treat, but the most important meal of the day. It impacts our food choices for the entire day, and if eaten regularly, it helps us avoid overeating.
It’s essential to recharge our energy stores and break the nocturnal fast. It has been amply demonstrated that eating a good breakfast, rather than limiting it to a quick coffee, improves our level of attention, memory and concentration. Conversely, skipping breakfast leads to the tendency to put on unwanted weight.
The foods we choose must be high-quality, nutritious and filling, in order to help provide the energy we need. Choosing the wrong foods can lead to hormonal imbalances: i.e. a breakfast high in simple sugars (a croissant and cappuccino, for example) can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar. This translates into feeling hungry sooner, even just an hour later.
A quality breakfast must be complete and should include all categories of nutrients. Here are some guidelines:
1 – A good dose of complex carbohydrates, which release energy gradually and therefore leaving you feeling satiated for longer. Better a couple of slices of naturally leavened bread made with rye or farro than the usual industrial cookies or melba toast. In place of cornflakes, which by the way are loaded with sugar, choose muesli, granola, rolled oats or buckwheat, though the latter requires a degree of preparation. Then of course, there’s always Ambrosiae porridge!
2 – Never leave proteins out of your breakfast, especially if you’ve exercised beforehand on an empty stomach, or if you plan to exercise later. A good protein source for a sweet breakfast is plain yogurt or Greek yogurt, making sure you read the label to confirm there are no added sugars. If you prefer a savory breakfast, there are various protein sources, like eggs (soft-boiled, poached or as part of a pancake batter), smoked wild salmon, a few slices of genuine prosciutto crudo, or a little bowl of fresh ricotta cheese with a sprinkle of cocoa or cinnamon.
3 – A small quantity of healthy fats. For example, a handful of nuts (10 almonds or hazelnuts, 3-4 walnuts). Linseeds and chia seeds are also good additions to your breakfast, as are coconut flakes. Nut butters are an excellent choice (peanut, almond, cashew, pistachio), as long as they don’t contain added sugars or other fats, so check the label to ensure they’re 100% pure.
4 – Little or no simple sugars: shake the habit of sweetening your coffee, tea or milk, and avoid buying commercial cookies and snacks. You can satisfy your sweet tooth with sources that naturally contain sugars: fresh fruit, small portions of dried fruit, organic honey, high-quality fruit preserves.
5 – Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Whether still or sparkling, bottled or from the tap, as long as it’s water. Even in the form of tea or various types of infusions. Indeed, a great way to start the day is with a blast of antioxidants from a nice cup of green tea.
Dott.ssa Francesca Oggionni Dietista