Let’s toast the new week with the best start to the day!

2016-02-01 09:49:22 | Uncategorized

In the first of our Wellbeing series of blog posts we are talking about something we should all be doing…

Last week was “National Breakfast Week” so we thought it would be a good time to discuss why breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.

According to a YouGov poll almost half the population (48%) are not eating breakfast every day and of these over a third (36%) are not eating anything until lunchtime. Of a quick mini-poll last week with our MINT workshop group of 11 people, 7 had eaten breakfast this morning – that’s 64%. 6 of these had cereal or fruit while 1 had a McDonald’s breakfast. Overall this is not too bad and is over the national average, but could of course be higher! We did a staff poll too – of 5 members of staff, 4 had eaten breakfast, a mixture of cereal, toast, omelette and “breakfast biscuits”. Of the staff and young people who didn’t eat breakfast, 4 of these were due to a lack of time and 1 said they were not hungry.

“So why is it better to eat breakfast every day?”

Firstly there appear to be reams of health benefits. Studies have shown that people reduce their chances of becoming obese, developing diabetes and having heart disease if they eat a regular morning meal, and the health benefits are increased further if breakfast contains whole-grain cereals. Research into breakfast consumption has shown that it helps people lose weight or maintain a healthy weight – much of this is down to the fact those who skip breakfast are more likely to snack during the morning and snacks are more likely to be unhealthy, for example chocolate or crisps. And of those who don’t snack during the morning, because they are so hungry by lunchtime they are more likely to make unhealthy lunch choices. Whole-grain cereals tend to be a good way of getting useful vitamins and minerals which the body needs in order to function effectively.

Breakfast is also thought to help the body to keep going following an overnight “fast”. During the night the body renews and repairs itself using fuel or food from the previous day, so breakfast replenishes this fuel store giving us energy for the day’s activities.

Furthermore, studies have shown that eating breakfast may help to boost concentration, mood and mental performance. For our young people this could be especially important when putting themselves forward to employers and helping them secure that all-important job. Likewise as Job Coaches we would benefit from keeping alert and functioning to a high level in order to do our job to the best of our abilities.

“What sort of breakfasts should we be eating?”

The British Dietetic Association splits the suggested foods into various categories:

Starchy foods include things such as bread – wholemeal and whole-grain rather than white are good options – and cereals for fibre and mineral intake, although be careful of added sugar varieties. This category also includes porridge, malt loaf and English muffins which are great for a morning energy boost, as well as their fibre, iron and B-vitamins.

Fruit and vegetables can include fruit (really nice with yogurt), dried fruit in porridge or cereal, pure fruit juice, frozen berries blended into a smoothie, and tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms in an omelette or on toast. Breakfast is the perfect time to start getting your recommended “5-a-day” and will provide you with lots of fibre and vitamins.

Milk and dairy could be yogurt, milk (either in cereal or a glass on its own) or cheese. Dairy products contain much-needed calcium for keeping our bones strong and some dairy products will give you protein for feeling full for longer.

Meat, fish, eggs and beans are also great sources of protein, as well as iron and vitamins. Eggs in particular are very versatile – scrambled, poached or boiled, with or without toast, plus whatever you want with them such as tomatoes, beans, etc. Breakfast needn’t be boring!

“What should I avoid having?”

We all have free choice about what to eat and drink at any given time, but fizzy drinks and energy drinks are not the best option as they are full of sugar – they’ll give you a short term boost of energy for an hour or so and then send your energy levels crashing down. Water, tea, coffee and pure fruit juice are excellent alternatives.

So if you’re not normally a breakfast person, give it a try tomorrow and see whether it has any positive effects on you!

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