Readers have been asking: “What’s the best way to start the day nutritionally?”
I’ve been having many conversations about breakfast with clients.
It’s time I wrote about the most important meal of the day.
It really is. Here’s why.
The way you start your day sets the stage for the rest of it.
Think about it:
How does your energy improve when you go for a run first thing?
How does your focus shift when you wake up with a few sun salutations?
How are your moods when you’ve meditated in the morning?
What happens on the days when you don’t feel like it, when you don’t have time?
What you eat at that time of day makes a difference as well.
Consider the client who came to see me about energy levels and about getting enough food to help her sustain a rigorous physical routine – she runs, does Pilates and martial arts. One of the first things she said to me was that breakfast is her favourite meal. She LOVES a full breakfast (eggs, sausage, toast or potatoes). She proceeded to tell me that she works out, then has a green drink “because it’s healthier”. I don’t know how it’s healthier if she can’t focus on work by 11, and she’s ready to eat her agenda by 3.
We have a tendency – because of time, health, lack of a.m. hunger – to skimp when it comes to breakfast. Sure a coffee and a bowl of cereal will get you out the door and through traffic to work. Once you get there, the small burst of energy will be done (and your blood sugar will drop) so you’ll need the next cup of coffee and/or muffin to keep you going.
Then, for the sake of your health – or let’s be honest, your waistline – you have “just a soup or a salad” for lunch, maybe with a bit of tuna or turkey. Come 3:00, you got it, the blood sugar takes another dive (naptime anyone?).
Let alone the meltdown you have when that thing you’ve been working on for weeks hits a major roadblock or your computer dies in the middle of a launch.
Then you start grazing the minute you walk in the door (I used to start with the lunchbox leftovers) and keep going all the way through supper prep, sometimes not stopping until you hit the sack. Feeling like shit and resolved to “eat less” tomorrow.
Yes, it has to do with healthwise choices (which I’ll get to shortly), but it also has to do with the mindset that goes into the planning and preparation of a decent breakfast. I make it pretty clear around here that nourishment involves much more than nutrition.
There’s more to your breakfast than a collection of nutrients.
For one thing, have you ever noticed that breakfast food tends to be pretty beige – cereal, toast, etc. The green drink craze has at least introduced a level of vibrancy to the morning.
Nourishing your body with a variety of colours awakens you at a different level. As I tell 5-year-olds, when you eat more colours your cells will be as happy as when you see a rainbow. To put it in more adult language, the colour of the food you eat will resonate with your chakras (the body’s energetic “rainbow” and emotional centres).
And that’s just one sort of sensual enjoyment you can get out of a meal. We tend to be one-hit wonders in terms of morning flavour as well: sweet. It’s quite stimulating to experience a bit of salty, a burst of sour, a hint of bitter, maybe even a touch of spice. When was the last time you took a bite of your breakfast and thought, “Delicious!”?
Taking the time to prepare and eat an adequate meal in the morning sends the message to your entire being that you’re worth the effort. Breakfast is an act of self-love.
And I’ll bet if you’ve taken the 15-20 minutes to cook a beautiful breakfast, you’ll want to sit down and enjoy it fully.
When you provide your body with the food it needs to efficiently get through the morning, you’ve set yourself up for success.
I had recently recognized that my own morning choice – usually the unconscious bowl of cereal (granted organic, gluten-free and bulked up with seeds and dried fruit) – wasn’t cutting it when it came to getting me through the day. I often ate lunch at 10, then needed a 2nd one at 2. I knew I had to make a change.
Synchronicity brought my attention to an online breakfast challenge (Laura Hames Franklin’s Superhuman Breakfast). I’ll admit, it took a few days of resistance to get me through the initial commitment, but the difference it made to my day was instantly remarkable.
Since making the commitment to eat well in the morning, I can sit down and work at my desk without visions of sugary snacks distracting my writing. I can be present for several clients or teach a whole class (often talking about food) without my stomach rumbling from any lack.
Without the requisite blood sugar drop that comes with the standard muffin or green smoothie, your moods stay on an even keel. You can now cope with whatever the day brings with grace.
Imagine: no embarrassing rumbling, no slump, no need for a cookie (or 3) mid-afternoon, a good night’s sleep and enough energy to get up in the morning.
Sure, I’ve adapted what I learned to suit me more fully, but the basics have been established in my mind as the way to go.
- A full, colourful, warm, delicious meal.
In nitty-gritty terms, you want to make sure that your morning meal makes up 25% of your daily calorie intake. Include protein, complex carbohydrates and a fermented food for ease of digestion.
If you’re trying to cut down on animal protein, this is the meal to eat it!
(Enter your email in the blue & orange box below to receive more details, the reason each part is so important and a handy PDF to pin to your fridge.)
- Play with your food.
OK, you know I don’t mean finger-painting in your porridge.
I mean play around with different foods, new ways of preparing old favourites. What happens in your day if you have an egg along with your green drink? What happens if you have a sweet potato instead of toast? How would you feel after eating another helping of last night’s casserole or a bowl of the lentil soup you just warmed up for your kid’s thermos?
My friend Sue Ann runs an online community called Chocolate for Breakfast. Whether you literally eat chocolate for breakfast or not (she does!), it engenders the idea that all of our meals need to be infused with pleasure.
What works for YOU?
You should have seen the look of relief on my client’s face when I gave her “permission” to eat a full breakfast again.
Now I’ve got a challenge for you:
In the comments, share your fave breakfast & whether it works for you. THEN, spend a few days playing around with different options and let us know what you’ve discovered. When you share your thoughts, you open the possibilities for others.
Give your friends the chance to improve their day too: share this post by clicking any (or all!) of these buttons.
To help you get going, I’ve made a PDF to post on your fridge: the basic recipe (and why each element is important) + suggestions and room for you to add a few ideas of your own.