It’s mid-morning. Do you find yourself craving something sweet or a coffee? It can be hard to resist. Or what about the evening? You tell yourself: I am going to stop snacking. But as with Emma and Rebecca, who you will meet in the following articles, somehow, that doesn’t immediately happen.
When you finally sit down in the evening, your arm just reaches out for crisps or toast, or maybe that tin of cookies. It’s all very well to decide to stop doing it, but how easy is that? The best is to start with simple steps that will begin to change what’s happening in your body.
Breakfast is a good place to start what you have for breakfast can either set you up to eat more healthily throughout the day or it can sabotage your efforts. Eating the right breakfast can start to bring your body into balance.
This helps regulate you’re eating (including in the evening), reduces fat storage, and reduces belly fat. Alternatively, your breakfast choices can make you want to eat more, or even crave food, later. Some people skip breakfast, as they are practicing a method of intermittent fasting. If you skip breakfast and regulate, you’re eating later in the day, that’s fine.
We are all different; the key is to find a way of eating that works for you. But if you crave food, overeat later in the day, or snack in the evening, it may help to have breakfast. If you skip breakfast because of intermittent fasting, you can apply the principles in this article to your first meal of the day.
When Emma came to me, she primarily wanted to eat more healthily, without it being such an effort; to be more in touch with her body’s needs and better able to meet them. She also hoped to lose seven or eight pounds. Often bringing homework, she found the evenings particularly difficult.
After an hour or so, with paperwork still stretching ahead of her, Emma would feel she deserved a treat. So, she’d make herself a cup of tea and open the chocolate biscuits always telling herself that she’d just have one, Instead, she found herself eating four or five.
As we go through the next few articles, we are going to look at the changes Emma made and the effect these changes had on her body, particularly on the way she wanted to eat. Emma started her day with coffee, toast, and jam a breakfast that, unfortunately, didn’t set her up well for the day.
It caused her blood sugar levels to spike, then crash, which triggered the desire for something sweet. So, she swapped her white toast for whole grain and found a 100 percent fruit puree substituting it for her usual jam. For protein, she had a little side dish of raw sunflower seeds.
As an alternative to jam, she also experimented with almond butter (made only from almonds), which she had on toast along with fresh apple slices. At this stage, we weren’t focusing on her evening snacking. But Emma discovered that she wasn’t wanting biscuits in the same way in the evening. She would still often reach for them (and eat more than she intended!), but partly through habit. And she started to feel they were resistible.
Also, her breakfast gave her more energy throughout the morning. Most days, around 10:30 a.m., she experienced a slump where she desperately wanted another coffee or something else to keep herself going.
She noticed that this energy low was happening later and later and wasn’t as bad. This was really encouraging. Focusing on just one thing having a healthy breakfast felt doable. And the change in how she felt was definitely motivating!
Starting your day well
When you start your day well, it can help psychologically you want to continue. It also assists your body biochemically. One of the reasons why getting breakfast right can make it easier to lose weight and to eat healthily has to do with your blood sugar levels.
Let’s say you get up in the morning and, like Emma, have white toast with jam and a coffee. So, you’ve got white carbs, sugar, and caffeine. These all push your blood sugar up quickly, causing you to release more insulin.
So already, at the start of the day, you are giving your body the message to store fat. Because your insulin levels are high, around mid-morning your blood sugar crashes. As you know from the previous article, this can trigger cravings, particularly for refined carbs, sugary foods or even coffee basically foods that make your blood sugar rise quickly.
As you may have experienced, these cravings are hard to resist— you are fighting the internal messengers in your body. Trying to get your blood sugar levels back up, your body releases stress hormones. (Remember, stress hormones move sugars into your blood to prepare for a fight-or-flight response.)
So now you’ve got stress hormones also doing their best to get you to eat. Plus, signaling to ‘Store fat around your belly. This is why it’s so important to have a breakfast that stabilizes your blood sugar levels. What might you have? Let’s look at some general guidelines.
1- Have some protein
Protein helps stabilize your blood sugar levels. It also helps you feel fuller for longer. A number of hormones control your hunger. Two of these are ghrelin and peptide YY (PYY). Ghrelin increases hunger, whilst PYY increases satiety and reduces the amount you eat.
A high-protein breakfast reduces your ghrelin and increases your PYY (i.e., it reduces hunger and increases a sense of fullness) throughout the day. Are you preoccupied with thoughts of food? A high-protein breakfast may help. Having a high-protein breakfast may also reduce evening snacking, particularly on high-fat foods.
So, if evening snacking or hunger is an issue, try increasing protein at breakfast. Have an egg or add a handful of nuts or seeds to your cereal. Other protein-containing foods include fish, tofu, meat, beans, lentils, cheese, and yogurt. If you eat meat and dairy, just have small amounts, as the fats they contain can be inflammatory and inflammation is linked to weight gain.
2- Optionally include unrefined carbohydrates (whole grains)
With carbs, go for the unrefined—whole grains such as oats, rye, millet, barley, and whole-grain bread. Your body breaks carbohydrates down into sugars. But unrefined carbs still have their fiber, which slows this process. Thus, they affect your blood sugar levels less.
3- Have some fruit or vegetables with your breakfast.
We’re going to look at fruit and vegetables in more detail in the next article.
Tailor to the imbalances in YOUR body
You can use specific foods to target the imbalances that are making it hard for you to lose weight. We are going to be looking at this more as we go through the following articles. For now, we are just going to consider a couple of examples of how typical breakfast foods can help rebalance your body. If you have completed Part 1, you will know which imbalances you have in your body.
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Female hormone imbalances
If you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), your female hormones need to come into balance. This may also be true if you are perimenopausal. One of my favorite breakfasts to help with this is oats with fruit, nuts, seeds, and coconut milk. Oats and seeds contain phytoestrogens, which help balance female hormones. You could also sprinkle cinnamon on your breakfast.
Not only is cinnamon good for female hormone balance, but it also regulates blood sugar. I particularly like coconut milk, but other plant milks are just as good. Balancing your blood sugar levels is especially important if you have PCOS and want to lose weight.
With high blood sugar levels, you release more insulin. Insulin reduces the production of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), a protein made by your liver that controls your levels of oestrogen and testosterone. If you have PCOS and low SHBG, you are more likely to be overweight. Walnuts increase SHBG, and almonds reduce male hormone levels. So, if you have PCOS, try sprinkling almonds or walnuts on your breakfast to help balance your hormones.
Low vitamin D
Low vitamin D levels can make you store more fat. Vitamin D is only found in a small number of foods which include eggs.
Low Omega 3 fats
If you don’t eat oily fish, you may be low in omega 3 fats, which have all sorts of benefits for your health and weight loss, from reducing your appetite to boosting your metabolism. (Chose wild fish rather than farmed.)
Remember, the more overweight you are, the lower your omega 3 levels are likely to be. Chia seed and flaxseed also contain omega 3 fats, so you could sprinkle ground flax or ground chia on your cereal or porridge.
Gut bacterial imbalances
If your gut bacteria are out of balance, you might gain weight. In general, slim people have more of ‘good’ bacteria than people who carry more weight. Yogurt is a fermented food, so it helps your good gut bacteria.
Instead of sugar-laden fruit yogurts, choose live natural yogurt and have it with fresh fruit. Hopefully, you are starting to see how you can tailor what you eat to help bring your body into balance.
Your next step
Making changes to the way you eat can sometimes feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. If your breakfast doesn’t contain protein, add a handful of nuts or seeds. If it doesn’t contain fruit or vegetables, add some fruit.
If you currently eat white bread, swap to whole grain or rye. Or try substituting. Instead of jam on toast, have whole-grain toast with peanut or almond butter with apple slices. If it has to be jam, try a 100 percent fruit spread, or make your own chia jam by mixing berries with chia seed.
Simple breakfast ideas
- Wholemeal toast or rye bread with
- nut butter and apple slices
- poached egg, spinach ( food that starts s), and asparagus with grilled mushroom and tomatoes
- chia jam or 100 percent fruit spread with a palmful of almonds – avocado ( food that starts a), sprinkled with seeds.
- Oat or millet porridge with pumpkin seeds, milled chia, and warm mixed berries Chia porridge with kiwi, banana, grapes, sunflower seeds, and walnuts.
- Greek yogurt ( food that starts y) with blueberries, mixed seeds, and sugar-free granola.
- Scrambled tofu with onion, courgette (zucchini), and peppers.
If you don’t have time for breakfast in the morning, could you prepare something the night before to take with you?
- A hard-boiled egg with some cherry tomatoes
- A small container of raw oats and berries with a pot of plain natural yogurt that you can open and add to it.
- A slice of rye bread with nut butter and grapes
Read Also About How to Start Healthy
Key things you have learned in this article
- Eating the right breakfast can make it easier to eat healthily for the rest of the day and reduce snacking in the evening.
- Your breakfast should include protein, some fruit or vegetables, and optionally some unrefined carbs such as oats or wholemeal bread. This helps stabilize your blood sugar levels so you are not giving your body the message to store fat. It also helps reduce cravings.
- If you skip breakfast due to intermittent fasting and that works for you, fine. Go with what works. But if you overeat or crave food later in the day, try starting the day with a healthy breakfast.
- Avoid or reduce foods that destabilize your blood sugar levels, such as refined cereals, refined sugar, white bread, and jam.