Tips for a Really Good Start to the Day
In England people actually try to be brilliant at breakfast. That is so dreadful of them! Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.”
Whether you, like Oscar Wilde, are not really a morning person or you like to be up at the crack of dawn, breakfast is an important part of the day.
Many nutrition researchers argue that the risk of obesity increases if we skip breakfast.1,2 It’s easy to believe that we are “restraining ourselves” by skipping breakfast, but for many people the tendency to snack during the morning increases instead. Studies show that the majority of people underestimate their calorie intake, to a large degree because we don’t notice how much we snack between meals.3
For that reason, in many cases, regular eating habits, including breakfast, are good for keeping blood sugar and weight under control. Perhaps you have different experiences, and naturally you should find the routines that work best for your situation.
Here we describe four different breakfast suggestions, which are compiled by Swedish dieticians.2
Starting the day with porridge based on oats and oat bran gives large quantities of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke and colon cancer.3
Dietary fiber forms a gel in the intestines, which means that various types of sugar are absorbed more slowly. This puts less strain on the blood vessels and insulin-producing cells.
Feel free to put berries in the oatmeal but eat them natural. Berries in the form of jam have lost some of their fiber content and the rise in blood sugar is faster. In addition, jam often contains added sugar. A suggestion is to buy large quantities of berries in the fall when they are cheaper and freeze them in bags to use during the winter.
Yogurt or kefir can produce a rapid rise in blood sugar which however is moderated by whole grain cereal or whole berries. Many kinds of breakfast cereals and muesli have added sugar. One option is to make your own muesli based on whole grains.
Eggs together with whole-grain bread can be a good breakfast. Eggs contain a lot of protein, vitamins A and D, selenium and iodine. Eggs have been controversial because they contain cholesterol. Most people however can eat several eggs a day without a negative effect on cholesterol values. In persons with disturbed cholesterol metabolism, cholesterol intake may need to be limited.4
Studies show that bread with whole grain based on rye flour is better for blood sugar, heart and blood vessels than bread based on white flour. A slice of white French bread for example has 0.5 g of dietary fiber while a slice of whole-grain bread has 3 g.
Dark bread often contains a lot of fiber, but sometimes it is dark syrup that gives the bread its color. The list of ingredients will provide guidance – they are listed in order of quantity.
Sourdough bread gives a slower carbohydrate uptake, but many sourdough breads are baked from white flour.
We can eat large quantities of bread without getting full. For that reason watch out for the quantity of bread, even if you are eating whole-brain or sourdough bread.
Besides the contents of the bread, what you put on it also matters. Honey, marmalade and jam produce a powerful rise in blood sugar. Fish products and avocado on the other hand are good toppings that provide nutritious unsaturated fats.
Cheese and sausage contain a lot of fat. Two slices of 28% cheese provide as much fat as 12 slices of ham or three cans of tuna fish. Two slices of salami give as much fat as 74 slices of corned beef.5
Beverages with Breakfast
One of the most common misunderstandings is that juice is “natural” and therefore healthy. But juice contains just as many carbohydrates as soda. One deciliter of orange juice corresponds to three lumps of sugar and produces a rapid rise in blood sugar.
It is considerably more healthy to eat whole fruits or vegetables, which give a lot of fiber and antioxidants that disappear in juice.
Coffee and tea have almost no calories by themselves, but a cappuccino or latte can have many calories, depending on what ingredients have been added.6
Experiment with Breakfast Routines
Many people have the same breakfast routine year in and year out. Because breakfast is such an important meal, it may be worth experimenting a little and see how your breakfast can become even better.
Just as Oscar Wilde pointed out, we don’t need to be “brilliant” at breakfast. On the other hand we should try to be healthy — it’s the small, everyday steps that often make the biggest difference.
How can you make your breakfast habits even better?
1. Hellénius, Maj-Lis. [In Swedish: Livsviktigt! Mina bästa råd för ett långt friskt liv]
2. Helgegren H et al., [In Swedish: Bra mat vid typ 2-diabetes]
3. Rosén M. [In Swedish: Sanningen om mat och hälsa.]
4. [In Swedish: www.livsmedelsverket.se]
5. Region Skåne. [In Swedish: Bra mat - smörgåsar.]
6. Region Skåne. [In Swedish: Bra mat - drycker.]