Breakfast is quite literally what it says it is – an end to the nightly fast when – hopefully, the body has rested and therefore not taken in any food.  Now it is ready to prepare for another busy and fulfilling day and needs to be given the food that will fuel this journey.  So what are we going to feed ourselves?

Some of us wake up in the morning and are ready to pile it in.  Others, myself included, just can’t face eating anything.  I always struggled with breakfast, I don’t know if it was because I really didn’t feel like eating or if the pull of getting involved in other business was more attractive.  Either way neither bribery nor threats were able to entice me to eat before I left to school.

Later on I thought I had got smart and figured that if my body doesn’t need breakfast then why bother with it.  After all, less calories in, less weight on, no?  No.  I learnt that if you don’t give the body what it needs it will demand it.  Not eating properly in the morning means eating more later on, most likely with less nutritional quality.  Because when we plan thoughtfully in the morning we are making wise decisions while later in the day, worn thin and exhausted we reach for what is nearest and fastest.  And besides, our metabolism generally works best in the morning and will use the food well, giving you best results for your effort.

I have since worked with enough people to see this pattern repeated many times.  It simply is not a smart move to mess with breakfast.  So I am teaching myself – it is a continued process (they say old habits die hard, which is why it is a good idea to start with the young) – to tell myself a more productive story.  As I remind myself each morning of what I would like to accomplish that day I also remind my body of what I would like in energy.  It is then more willing to consider breakfast, especially if I am relaxed and can take a couple of quiet minutes to enjoy it.

For children breakfast is particularly important as it is a time when parents can be with them and start their day in a positive and healthful way.  We are not in control of lunch time while children are at school and by the time they come home it is many hours later and they are often too tired by then.

The challenge is that mornings are generally a mad rush of getting everything ready for the day and therefore, in London at least, most of us settle for cereal and milk for practical reasons.  Cereals, however, are not terribly nutritious to say the least, which is why they are fortified with vitamins, to make them suitable to be sold as food!  And milk, believed to be this basic and very necessary source of calcium, has been found to be not such a great source of calcium at all.

So where does that leave us.  As parents we have a hard job to know what to take care of first and getting stressed about breakfast is certainly not going to make for a better start to the day.  But, with careful planning there are some things we can try.

Pick one or two mornings a week when you can find an extra 10-15 minutes in the morning to prepare something special.

Try these breakfast ideas:-

Porridge is hot, perfect for cold winter mornings, but comforting at any time.  It is fast and very nutritious.

Oats are one of the healthiest complex carbohydrates which means they will create sustained energy.  They are a source of protein and of soluble fibre, as well as containing manganese, selenium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, vitamin E and copper.

Oats can be added to a pan of hot milk, keep stirring till it boils.  Turn down the light and let it simmer for a couple of minutes, not more.  If time is tight add hot water to a bowl of oats, stir and leave for a minute or two till the oats soften.  Then add some milk.

Experiment, the options are endless…there are porridge oats and jumbo oats which make a more textured consistency (as in picture).  Have a go with rice milk, soy milk or a mixture of both.  Try adding some raisins, cocoa nibs, goji berries or blueberries (fresh or frozen) – it can really become a party!

Eggs, very filling and an especially good source of protein for children.  Eggs contain all the amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own and is reliant on us to provide it through food intake.  A good source of vitamin D, selenium and B12, all so important for growing bodies.

Try boiling eggs; it is faster and healthier than frying.  If you prefer scrambled eggs warm some extra virgin olive oil and add the eggs before it gets too hot.

Try serving with baked beans, another great protein which is low in fat and calories.  Let the children prepare some easy vegetables or simply pile the egg on a rice cake.

Start enjoying breakfast and really enjoy your day.

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