How changing what you eat for breakfast can improve your health?
This post is inspired by my recent trip to France with my daughter and her rhythmic gymnastics team. I took a new book along to read which is in my 'Twelve health books to read in a year list'- Glycose revolution by Jessie Inchauspé, who holds a Master of Science degree in Biochemistry and who is known in Instagram as a glycosegoddess. She gives simple hacks to people to keep your blood sugar under control.
Photo source: Unsplash
I have written in the past a blog post on the importance of blood sugar balance for overall health, which you can find here.
In summary, blood sugar spikes cause:
constant hunger, where we want to eat every few hours
cravings, where we don't feel satisfied after a meal and want to snack something in a little while
lowered immune system- more frequent colds
heart palpitations at night
cognitive and memory issues
type 2 diabetes
As I started to read Glycose Revolution book in the plane, as we got to our hotel in Disneyland and went to the breakfast buffet next morning, I was shocked. How have we ended up in a world, where we serve 80% dessert foods for breakfast? There were chocolate rolls, croissants, cakes, different breads, cereals, pancakes, Nutella, honey, morning cereals (like CocoPops, Cheerios, sweet corn flakes). For drink, Coke, Fanta, Sprite, apple juice, orange juice etc. There were some savoury foods as well, like boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, small sausages, some hams and cheese. But the majority of the food offered was sweet foods, which take our blood sugar high first thing in the morning. Not a healthy choice, if you want to avoid the above listed symptoms of blood sugar spikes.
What happens when you eat a sweet breakfast, consisting of many carbohydrates?
You will drive your blood sugar high, making your body work hard to take the glycose from your blood into your cells. But if there is too much of glycose in your blood, your cells had enough, they don't allow more glycose in and the excess will be stored in the body as fat.
You will likely develop cravings as when the blood sugar spikes too quickly, it will also crash quickly, making you feeling low in energy and groggy. As a result you are urged by your hormones to go and snack or go and crab that next cup of coffee or energy drink to get you through the rest of the day.
How do you know if your blood glycose levels are dysregulated?
If you answer yes to several of the below questions, your body likely has challenges managing your blood sugar levels:
Have you been trying to lose weight, but get stuck?
Is your waist size more than 89cm (35 inches, if you are a woman), or 101cm (40 inches), when you are a man?
Have you been told by your doctor, nutritionist, personal trainer that you need to lose weight?
Do you feel angry, when you are hungry?
Do you you crave sweets?
Do you need to eat every couple of hours?
Do you feel lightheaded when meals are delayed?
Do you have any skin issues?
Do you have pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes?
Do you have anxiety, mood disorders, depression?
Do you need caffeinated drinks to get you through the day?
Do you have troubles sleeping, do you experience heart palpitations at night?
Another good way to understand whether you could have blood sugar challenges, is to write down what you had for breakfast during the last week? Was it cereals with milk, oats or other porridge with maple syrup or honey, croissants, orange juice, toast with jam, granola, fruit smoothie, muffin, banana bread, acai bowl, pastries etc. All of these contain some form of sugar and/or starch, spiking your blood sugar. While there are healthier and less healthier sugars, in the body they act the same way- sugar is sugar. You can learn more about sugar and different forms of sugar, artificial sweeteners here.
One of the best ways to improve your blood sugar is to flatten your glucose curve in the morning by eating the right foods that don't spike your blood sugar so drastically. Our bodies are also most sensitive to glycose spikes in the mornings. The less you experience blood sugar spikes throughout the day, the better for your overall health, the better for your weight, for your mood etc.
What can you eat for breakfast to avoid blood sugar spikes?
Eat a savoury breakfast, which contains a good amount of protein, fat, fibre and optional fruit or starch. Avocado on toast is a much better choice than toast and jam.
Prioritise protein. Healthy proteins include eggs, tofu, Greek yoghurt, meat, fish, cheese, nuts, seeds, protein powder (check the ingredient list) etc. This article gives you a list of highest healthy protein foods.
Healthy fats include olive oil, avocado, almonds, flaxseeds, Greek yoghurt. Here you can find more options of healthy fats. I would not advice to go for fat-free dairy for example, as fat is what satiates your body and keeps you full longer.
Here are different options for fibre to add to your meal. I have also used Elsavie fibre mixtures, Ecosh fibre mixture and added them to my morning green drink.
You can also eat the savoury meal you had for dinner previous evening, for breakfast the next morning. Provided that the dinner contained a good protein, fat and fibre.
Here are a few breakfast ideas and how to make some carbohydrate rich grains less spiking your blood sugar:
eggs (scrambled, fried, boiled, poached, omelette). You can add spinach, avocado, paprika, tomatoes, asparagus, courgette, eggplant, mushrooms, fish to it.
sourdough bread with egg, salmon, avocado.
ground turkey patties on spinach and with avocado.
stuffed avocado with salmon and goat cheese, hemp seeds for garnish
sweet potato hash with bacon
smoothie (it's important not to drink just a fruit smoothie with only fruit in it). Add in there some protein (nuts, seeds, protein powder), some fat (nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut milk, MCT oil), some additional fibre (like spinach leaves, linseeds, psyllium husks, cocoa, inulin, chia seeds etc) . In this article I share tips how to put together a satiating and blood sugar balancing smoothie.
oatmeal (I buy gluten-free oats)- cook in coconut milk, or almond milk, cow milk is also ok if you can tolerate it. Add in there milled flax seeds, some nuts, chia seeds (soaked), raspberries, bilberries, cocoa nibs, cinnamon. Important is to reduce the spike from oats, by adding in protein, fat and fibre.
quinoa porridge (quinoa boiled in bone broth), with a boiled egg, slices of avocado
buckwheat porridge (buckwheat boiled in bone broth), with a boiled egg (you can also boil quail eggs), slices of avocado, sprinkle some hulled hemp seeds on top
pancakes- made from coconut milk, or almond milk, eggs, chia seeds, almond flour, coconut flour, cassava flour, cinnamon
chia seed pudding (with chia seeds, coconut milk- seeds soaked overnight in the coconut milk; add some berries and other seeds and nuts into it.
nut muesli, which is rich in nuts and seeds- here I have one recipe
granola with a good amount of nuts, seeds, cinnamon- you can try this recipe
I hope the above article gives you inspiration to reduce sugar in your life or at least slowly move away from having sweet foods for breakfast. Try having a savoury breakfast for a week or whatever your first meal of the day is, make it savoury. Your body and brain will thank you for making the healthier choices.
If you are looking to get help to make the changes in your diet step by step, to make changes that are not only temporary, but will turn into your lifestyle and are long term, please do reach out to me for health coaching via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll discover together a healthier path for you.