Living in a world of commercialism, the nutrition knowledge put forth to us could sometimes not be quite what it seems to be. The most misleading ploy is by putting a whole lot of processed food under the ‘health’ food section in the supermarket, thus ‘educating’ us on what we should be eating, and what we should not.
If you could just take time to rethink and research, you will realise many of the commonly mistaken as ‘healthy foods’ are actually doing us more harm than good. Do you remember this saying that the first meal of the day is the most important meal of your day? Breakfast provides fuel to kickstart your day after a night of rest and recovery. The food you consume first thing in the morning helps to raise the body’s energy level and restores the blood glucose level back to a normal range after a night of fasting.
Let’s look at the common list of breakfast food that we think we are eating right, but actually not!
- Wheat Bread – Be it whole wheat, or refined wheat (worse than whole wheat), the bread that are available to us are not necessarily just made of ‘whole grains’. These grains usually go through a grinding and pounding process to a very fine flour that makes it easily digestible for our ingestion. During this time, sugar is also added to give a slight sweet aftertaste to the bread. They have a high glycemic index and spike our blood sugar as quickly as normal white bread does. Wheat bread may contain more fibre and nutrients as compared to white bread, but the bad still hits your system all the same. You may have some of the ‘goodness’ but we cannot eliminate the ‘bad’ of it.
Whole Wheat bread may somewhat sound like a healthy substitute for white bread, but the sugar added into it gives the bread a high glycemic index which spikes our blood sugar shortly after eating them.
- Breakfast Cereal – These are possibly the worst food you can have in the morning, and to think we feed our kids with breakfast cereals through their growing years! The true fact is, cereals are tasty because they are loaded with sugar and refined carbs. It spikes your blood sugar and insulin levels in your body, and within hours when your blood sugar crashes, you will start to crave for more carbs and sugary food. Many asians go on a high-carb diet not knowing the harmful effects of the ‘roller-coaster-effect’ of your blood sugar, causing you to snack more, irritability, unable to concentrate in your activity etc.
Cereals are tasty because they are loaded with sugar and refined carbs. It spikes your blood sugar and insulin levels in your body, and within hours when your blood sugar crashes, you will start to crave for more carbs and sugary food.
- Fruit Juices – Pick up any pack of fruit juice from the supermarket shelves, and they will definitely be tasty! But why isn’t it the same with our fresh fruits? Essentially, packed fruit juices are just ‘fruit flavoured sugared drink’. There is absolutely no fruit in there, just glucose, water and flavouring and colouring. Having freshly squeezed juice may seem like a reasonable substitute, yet the fibre found in natural fruit is broken down , leaving the juice with all the benefits of fresh fruits taken out. The natural sugars found in fresh fruits are bounded behind the fibrous walls of the fruit itself, thus enabling a slow release of the sugar into our system, which will not cause sugar spikes in our body. Therefore, eating the natural whole fruit itself reaps more benefits for the body than any kind of juices.
Having whole natural fruits is a better choice than having any kind of fruit juices, packed or freshly squeezed.
- Low Fat Milk – We are mistaken to think that eating fat makes us fat, but actual research have proven otherwise. Our body needs a certain amount of fat, and there are many different types of fat. What we should be avoiding is trans fat and saturated fat. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are actually good for you. The fatty acids found in regular milk could have a positive effect on regulating your weight. The fatty acids also tend to fill up your stomach, making you full and thus eating lesser afterwards. Low fat milk is probably loaded with lots more sugar, which is definitely worse for you than having some extra calories (which your body can easily burn off if you are physically active) from fat.
Fatty acids found in regular milk could actually help in regulating your weight. Low fat milk is loaded with more sugar after the fats have been removed from the milk to make it more flavoursome. The sugar is definitely worse than having some extra calories from fat.
- Granola – Granola, when made with real ingredients, is certainly a healthy option. But, many of the commercial choices available to us these days are all packed with sugar, oil, and loads of preservatives. Most have too much sugar, and too little fibre after being processed and crushed. A healthy breakfast should be the opposite of what it is, going low on sugar and high in fibre. Also, they are packed in such a way it is easy to overeat what is recommended for a daily intake of sugar for an average adult. A cup of granola can easily chalk up to 600 calories, almost a third of what is recommended as our daily allowance.
Many of the granola choices made available to us contain too much sugar, and too little fibre. Being loaded with lots of sugar and oil, a cup of it can easily chalk up to 600 calories, makes up to almost a third of what is recommended for our daily calorie allowance.
- Low Fat Yogurt – When fat is removed from any supposedly good healthy food, the end product will be lacking in taste and therefore, to compensate for this, a whole bunch of other ingredients will be added to make the product more tasty and sellable. These ingredients, usually sugar, sweet syrup or artificial sweeteners, are known to be bad for health, and most of the time, these are not properly highlighted in the ingredients list. We only take notice of the product name and immediately be made-believe that ‘low fat’ naturally means ‘better’! A small amount of saturated fat is actually proven to not be the direct link to the risk of getting heart diseases ( high cholesterol does not necessary cause heart disease, just that people who have a lot of cholesterol are more likely to get it ). By removing the fats and adding more harmful sugars into it, this could defeat the purpose to cutting down on fats when you are actually piling on weight from the sugar. Opt for natural Greek yoghurt instead (the less tasty ones, the better!)
Low Fat Yogurt has the fats removed (not necessarily unhealthy and not linked to a direct cause of heart diseases) and sugar, sweeteners added to them to make up for the lack in taste. We know what artificial sugar does to our health, and they are a direct cause of making us fat.
- Trail Mix Nuts – Trail mixes contain all the good nuts, but it also includes some of the fatty and highly sugared stuff as well – dried fruits, peanuts, sometimes chocolate and grains etc. The mix have their name for a purpose – intended for trails. This means it is a very energy dense snack. Dried fruits are usually very sweet with lots of sugar added to them, and nuts (though healthy) are loaded with fats. It’s purpose is for the highly active when they really need lots of fats to produce the energy needed for their body to burn them off well, for example when you are trekking. Most of us do not suffer from a lack of energy, especially not so in the morning when we were well rested the night before. And because they are such high in fats and carbs, it makes them a wrong choice of breakfast food if you are trying to lose weight.
Trail mixes are very energy dense snacks, with the sugared dried fruits in them as well as lots of nuts with loads of fats. Their purpose is for the highly active as they need the sugar and fats to produce energy for their high activity. They are not a good choice of breakfast food since you are definitely not suffering from a severe lack of energy!
What to Eat?
My breakfast choice always include :
- Smoked salmon
- Whole fruits (Bananas, berries etc)
- Lean meat
- Soy Whey
Choose from high protein foods with a mix of a small amount of carb-rich food (natural & wholesome choices) to kick start your day. Having an all carb-based breakfast may seem to feel your tummy faster, but they do not necessarily last for long. Carbohydrates and sugar (found in foods which you didn’t think contain much sugar) surge your sugar level and once it crashes after 1-2 hours, it makes you crave for more. Protein-rich food, on the other hand, last longer as they take a longer time to digest. If you get your right protein from breakfast, it should leave you quite satisfied until lunch time rather than give you awful unhealthy cravings. Time to re-look into your usual breakfast and work out a brand new breakfast plan!
What are some of your healthy favourites for breakfast? 🙂