Breakfast

What is breakfast?

Sounds obvious doesn't it? We all know breakfast is the first meal of the day but breakfast literally means "to break the fast". While you've been sleeping your body hasn't had any food and so you've been fasting for around 8 hours! That's why breakfast is such an important meal for people of all ages. This is the perfect time to give your body some healthy fuel to set it up for the day ahead.

Why is breakfast important?

  • Breakfast can improve your attention, mental performance and memory. If you start the day hungry your body stays in a fasting state which makes it much more difficult to concentrate. Eating breakfast has been shown to improve learning, memory and academic performance in school children. So don't start the day behind the eight ball, give yourself a fighting chance to perform at your best.
  • Breakfast helps boost your intake of important nutrients. Foods consumed at breakfast are usually breads, cereals, milk and yogurt which contribute carbohydrates, calcium and fibre to your diet. People who miss breakfast usually don't make up these nutrients later.What's more, many cereals are fortified with important vitamins and minerals which help you meet your nutrient needs for the day. Including a high vitamin C fruit such as berries or kiwi fruit will make the iron in your cereal more easily absorbed.
  • Eating breakfast helps you maintain a healthy weight. Skipping breakfast is not an effective way to lose weight – in fact people who skip breakfast are more likely to be heavier than those who find the time to have some food in the morning. High fibre and protein choices will help you feel full for longer and can help prevent you from snacking on high fat, high sugar choices mid-morning, which is what can happen if your blood sugar levels drop and your body is craving a quick sugar fix.

Make time for breakfast

Many people think they don't have time for breakfast but eating breakfast is a habit worth acquiring. If you skip breakfast you are unlikely to meet your daily needs for some essential vitamins and minerals and you'll have less energy. Five minutes is all it takes to eat some yogurt and a piece of fruit. If you don't have time at home try to have a proper breakfast when you get to work or school. If that's really not possible then there are now a number of healthy on-the-go choices of breakfast drinks and bars so you don't miss out altogether. Be careful that your choice of breakfast on the go is also tooth friendly. Fruit juice can erode enamel and foods such as dried fruit can stick between teeth and increase the risk of tooth decay. Try and follow eating with a drink of water and have a tooth brush at work or school if you eat breakfast away from home.


Quick & healthy breakfast ideas

Cereal:

  • Choose a wholegrain or high fibre cereal, untoasted muesli or porridge
  • Add some low fat milk, hot or cold
  • Top with fresh, tinned, frozen or dried fruit and low fat yogurt

Visit http://www.recipes.com.au for more healthy breakfast recipe ideas

Light & easy:

  • Tub of low fat yogurt topped with fruit or nuts
  • Low fat custard with sliced banana and/or strawberries
  • Fruit Smoothies: blend low fat milk, low fat yogurt and fruit
  • Fresh Fruit salad - plain or jazz it up with some low fat yogurt

Toast:

Wholegrain breads are a good source of fibre and are supplemented with thiamine, folate and iodine.

Raisin toast with thinly spread margarine or light cream cheese

  • Wholegrain/Wholemeal or Rye toast
  • Add a topping: baked beans, ricotta cheese or cottage cheese, peanut butter, avocado, fresh tomato, smoked salmon and low fat cream cheese
  • Scrambled or poached eggs with lean ham, spinach and grilled tomato

This fact sheet contains general information. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific advice for your personal situation.

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References

Perspectives in Applied Nutrition 1996; 33:204-212

Affenito SG et al. Breakfast consumption by African-American and white adolescent girls correlates positively with calcium and fiber intake and negatively with body mass index. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005Jun;1056:938-45 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15942545

The University of Sydney National Children's Nutrition & Physical Activity Study, 2003

Cho S. et al. The effect of breakfast type on total daily energy intake and body mass index: results from the third National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 3), Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2003, Vol 22, No 4 296-302.

Smith KJ , Gall SL,McNaughton SA,Blizzard L,Dwyer T, Venn AJ. Skipping breakfast: longitudinal associations with cardiometabolic risk factors in the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Oct 6. [Epub ahead of print]

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Beck K , Conlon CA,Kruger R,Coad J, Stonehouse W.

Gold kiwifruit consumed with an iron-fortified breakfast cereal meal improves iron status in women with low iron stores: a 16-week randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2010 Aug 23:1-8. [Epub ahead of print]

Kent LM , Worsley A. Breakfast size is related to body mass index for men, but not women. Nutr Res. 2010 Apr;30(4):240-5.

Deshmukh-Taskar PR , Nicklas TA,O'Neil CE,Keast DR,Radcliffe JD, Cho S. The relationship of breakfast skipping and type of breakfast consumption with nutrient intake and weight status in children and adolescents: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2006. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Jun;110(6):869-78.

Ruxton CH , Kirk TR. Breakfast: a review of associations with measures of dietary intake, physiology and biochemistry. Br J Nutr. 1997 Aug;78(2):199-213.

Giovannini M , Agostoni C, Shamir R. Symposium overview: Do we all eat breakfast and is it important? Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Feb;50(2):97-9.

Albertson AM , Thompson D,Franko DL,Kleinman RE,Barton BA, Crockett SJ. Consumption of breakfast cereal is associated with positive health outcomes: evidence from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study. Nutr Res. 2008 Nov;28(11):744-52.

Timlin MT , Pereira MA,Story M, Neumark-Sztainer D. Breakfast eating and weight change in a 5-year prospective analysis of adolescents: Project EAT (Eating Among Teens). Pediatrics. 2008 Mar;121(3):e638-45. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18310183