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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

How to have a Healthy Breakfast and not a Big Breakfast

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Begin your day with a heavy breakfast is what we have been advised from decades. All is well till here. But does this mean that one should eat a high protein, high carbs and high calorie breakfast to keep the hunger pangs at bay for the rest of the day?

Breakfast is the first meal of the day, which is essential to start and keep our metabolism rate high. However, eating breakfast can be a wonderful key element depending upon how and what you eat for your breakfast. 

Here are some pointers to keep in mind when selecting your first meal of the day, even if it is in the middle of the day (for late risers):

  • Firstly, breakfast, lunch and dinner, all are important. Skipping meals can result in a reduced metabolism rate.
  • Breakfast literally means breaking the fast that one has been doing for the previous whole night of sleeping – where our body tends to cleanse and detoxes itself. Generally, according to research, when fasting, several biological changes occur in our body like diminished enzyme production of our digestive system and diminished mucus lining of the stomach. Therefore, gentle and slow re-introduction of food will allow the digestive system to re-establish the enzyme production and will make stomach linings less vulnerable to irritation.
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  • You can begin with simple and easy to digest foods to support the above process. I would recommend a glass of water would be a great one to start with. H2O will hydrate you and fill you up instantly. Avoid any dairy/caffeine products to begin your day with.  However, you can always take a cup of coffee or tea a little later in the morning as it has been believed that caffeine produces increased wakefulness and suppresses appetite (if taken in right and limited amounts).
  • Just listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry, I am not suggesting you to skip breakfast, but I am also not suggesting you eat until you are too full. Some mornings, waking up not feeling hungry from the previous night’s dinner is normal, but try to consume little something in the morning. You need to break the fast J
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  • Breakfast should be such that it should keep you more active during the day making you feel lighter and energetic and gives more chance to burn calories. Therefore a serving each of low-fat protein, whole fruit or vegetables, and whole-grain bread or cereal is a balanced way to start your day. I am convinced that a south Indian breakfast can be a good low fat, simple carbs and low calorie meal (with appropriate dips though). To know more about calorie counts in Indian foods click here.
  • For many of us, it is really difficult to hog a big breakfast as first thing in the dawning. So adopting the mantra of having a big breakfast is not practical for some of us. Besides having a heavy breakfast will not make you eat smaller lunch. Our body is designed to feel hungry every 4 hours. So if you eat a huge breakfast, you will need more snacks and caffeine by mid-forenoon.
  • According to David Sarwer, “The best approach is to eat small meals — 400 to 500 calories — supplemented with light snacks so you're never really hungry”, and still can stay within the overall calorie target intake (Recommended daily calorie intake is different for each one according to their lifestyle). 
  • Lastly, do not take this mantra literally - ‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper,'". What I have inferred is that always reduce the amount of food to be taken in as the day goes down.

So people definitely breakfast, as the first meal of the day, is essential for good health, but not clogging with heavy and difficult to digest foods. Rather try to select foods which are great in volume, but contain less calories.
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Breakfast studies have thrown us all confusing and contradicting results. Most of the tests were borne in a controlled environment and subjects were with unknown lifestyles. Also, there could be a possibility that these subjects may have some unknown underlying disorders. These studies are only correlative and difficult to apply in the real world. But listen to your body and savor!