So it's Day 1 of our four week StealthHealth programme, so welcome. You might be wondering why we are kicking off with breakfast and if you haven't already done so I'd encourage you to read my blog post from yesterday which explains the two StealthHealth key concepts we are working on this week, Breakfast is Best and Eating with Awareness. So, why on earth is breakfast so critical? From my own personal experience, and this is supported by many nutrition professionals that I've spoken to, it makes sense to eat something nutritious at the start of the day for all sorts of physical reasons but it's as much about mindset - your first meal of the day sets the tone for the food choices you make the rest of the day too.
I'm sure you can relate; if I get up, sleepwalk down to the kitchen and shove something mindlessly down my throat it's not a good omen for the rest of the day. My thought process is, 'well, I've already eaten something shitty so I might as well just have a mid-morning doughnut!' (I use the doughnut example a lot, not because I particularly like them, but they are one of those foods which I always think is going to taste far better than it actually does!). Now I'm not saying NEVER EAT A DOUGHNUT! I do not want to be responsible for the demise of the doughnut and I don't like that 'good food/bad food' mentality, but at the end of the day I think we can all agree they aren't the best thing we can put in our stomachs.
Interestingly, once you get in to the habit of having a proper breakkie, something weird and wonderful starts to happen - your appetite slowly transforms. You will find yourself strangely drawn to avotoast, or overnight oats or a tasty omelette, and no longer craving that almond croissant or bacon sanger (OK, maybe that's taking it too far, but let's just say you won't crave them quite as often!). I'm aware that this is all sounding a little evangelical, I am indeed a fully paid-up member of the breakkie brigade. If you aren't convinced give it a go this week and see if I can persuade you to join the gang.
Sidenote: If you really can't face breakfast first thing just try and make your first meal of the day a nutritious one.
So, 'what is a good breakfast?' I hear you cry. It can seem a bit overwhelming to tick all those nutritional boxes when you've just rolled out of bed. Well, it's got to be balanced, some good carbs, healthy fat, plenty of protein and a good hit of vitamins and minerals. I'd also encourage you, if you have any gas left in the tank at the end of the day, to do a bit of prep. If I'm thinking of having a veggie omelette for example, I might just chop up the veg before I go to bed, or take 5 minutes to sling together some overnight oats.
This morning I am making my Indian Spiced Omelette Wrap and I'll post the recipe in a jif if you want to try it, but don't feel as if you have to slavishly follow recipes, this is often the downfall of many 'diets', they are just too prescriptive. So here is a list of some great breakfasts to try, and if you have a copy of my book The Midlife Kitchen any of the breakfast recipes in there would be top banana (if you don't have the book and would like to buy a copy just click on the 'Buy the Book' link at the top of the homepage).
A slice of wholegrain toast with peanut or other nut butter, chopped banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon
A slice of wholegrain toast with avocado and a poached egg (or sunny-side up if poaching is a bit too scary!)
2 egg omelette with spinach and feta
2 boiled eggs with some lightly blanched asparagus spears
A scrambled egg with smoked salmon slivers, capers and red onion
Sauteed mushrooms with wilted spinach and a slice of good quality ham
Greek yogurt with dark berries and toasted oats (just toast in a hot dry frying pan)
Overnight oats - soak some oats overnight with fruit, berries, nuts, seeds and a little honey in the milk of your choice
Porridge made with semi-skimmed milk and topped with fruit, nuts and seeds
A smoothie made with frozen berries, a banana, Greek yogurt and some milk of your choice
And just a quick note on weight loss, whilst StealthHealth is concerned primarily with improving eating habits and long-term health I'm under no illusion that most of us want to shed a few pesky pounds in the process, me included! I moved to Singapore 6 months ago and frankly I've taken my eye off the ball, too much delicious (but not exactly healthy) street food and if I'm honest drinking a bit too much fermented grape juice! When we get to WEEK 3 of the programme that's when I'm going to be pulling out the big StealthHealth weight loss guns so hang on in there for that.
So, if weight loss is your goal, it's useful to get a benchmark weigh-in so that you can chart your progress. For full disclosure I weighed myself this morning, first thing on waking with no clothes on and after going to the loo (we all do that don't we, it's got to weigh something right?) and I was 59.3kg, I'm aiming for somewhere around 55kg. I will be talking later in the month about what constitutes a healthy, sustainable weight as well as Health at Every Size which is an approach to weight and health that is gaining momentum among nutritionists. But for this week just focus on the first two StealthHealth concepts, Breakfast is Best and Eating with Awareness, and if you need a refresher take another look at my post from yesterday which explains these ideas and what they mean in practice.
Right, time to make that omelette!!