3 August 2014

Start with breakfast

I think most of us have food-related goals. But it can be overwhelming to make changes, especially if your desired diet is very different from your current diet. You're hungry, you're pushed for time, you're in the habit of eating a certain way and shopping for certain food products, maybe you aren't used to cooking the way you'd like to.

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Whatever your dietary goals are - vegan, vegetarian, counting calories, Weight Watchers, paleo, gluten-free, dairy free, sugar free, low carb, more protein, more fruit and veg, more fiber, low fat, breakfast on the go that isn't processed or packaged, eating breakfast at all, or a combination of any of these - I'd recommend that you start with breakfast.

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Why start with breakfast? Because:
1) It will set you up for the day with a healthy start - you will feel physically better for it
2) It will allow you to feel one step closer to accomplishing your dietary goals, even if the rest of the day goes badly in terms of food
3) It is a more manageable meal, and usually prepared individually, so you don't have to worry about pleasing the picky eaters in the family, just yourself

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Now, I don't recommend that you wait until 6:30am when you have to throw something together before you leave for work before thinking about breakfast. Rather, take some time when you are relaxed, not rushed, and not hungry (perhaps on the weekend) and plan then.

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Dietary goals can sometimes be in the negative - reduce fat, eliminate sugar, don't eat carbs. This can leave you feeling frustrating and overwhelmed: "Well, what can I eat?"

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So take some time to think of the things that you CAN eat that fit into your plan, and list some breakfast ideas. For example, I have mostly eliminated grains from my breakfasts and always make sure to eat protein, so my breakfast ideas include eggs, beans, cheese, nuts, peanut butter, etc (but not all together!)

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Try doing a Pinterest or Google search for ideas - for example, "Paleo breakfast" or "low carb breakfast" or "Weight Watchers breakfast". Be realistic about what you will and won't eat. The idea is not to torture yourself into submission but to create new, healthy and enjoyable food habits. If you hate eggs, don't put them on the menu. There are other ways of ingesting protein.

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The next step is to create a shopping list for the things you need. Once you have purchased the necessary ingredients then you want to prep as much as possible, especially if you are on a tight schedule in the mornings and / or are not a morning person. For example, portion out fruit into containers and freeze it for smoothies, or weigh out your points allowance of oatmeal and store it in ziplock bags. Prep a fruit salad the night before. Set yourself up for success - make it as easy as possible to throw together your new, healthy breakfasts.

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Keep things simple. You don't have to create a new breakfast meal every single day. If you want the same breakfast day in and day out (at least to start with) then go for it! If it's something you enjoy, then so what if it's repetitive? You can get dietary variety elsewhere.

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Here's an example of my dietary goals and how I apply them to my breakfasts:

Eliminate sugar, wheat, corn, potatoes
Avoid carbs for breakfast, except occasional complex carbs
Include protein
Include fruit / veg frequently, if not always

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This means that what I can't eat for breakfast includes toast, muffins, pancakes, waffles, cereal, etc. You know, the usual types of things that we expect at breakfast time!

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So what I usually eat is eggs (poached, boiled, fried, omelet, breakfast "muffins"). Occasionally I'll have two rye crackers with cream cheese and Colby cheese, and sometimes I'll have a frozen banana smoothie with peanut butter and almond meal in it for protein (I'd use protein powder but I haven't found one I like the taste of).

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I like to add fresh or canned fruit (for example homemade applesauce) and / or vegetables. These breakfasts suit me, are easy and quick to prepare, and keep me feeling full until lunch time. Job done.

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I find that even when my diet suffers and I make poor choices and "fall off the wagon" my breakfasts tend to stay the same because they are now habit. And I feel good that even when I am being "naughty" with food, at least I have one healthy meal a day and haven't abandoned all self control.

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BUT if I were to shuffle into the kitchen in the morning and then have to think about what to eat, and then find that we are out of eggs, or I've not frozen bananas in advance, or I've only got cereal in the house, then I'd find it really hard to stick to my habit. So the prep step is absolutely key. Go ahead and prep for the whole week (or month!), or simply take a moment the night before to think about the next morning's breakfast.

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I mentioned in this post that I can't eat what we are trained to think of as breakfast foods (pancakes, bagels, cereal, toast, etc). But who says they are breakfast foods anyway? Do the Food Police decide what are and are not breakfast foods? If you can get over that way of thinking then guess what, ANY food is a breakfast food. I like eating leftovers for breakfast. Salads are great in the summer.

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You might find that eating soup is the perfect way to start the day. Maybe you'd like a stir fry, or a casserole, or some lasagne. Whatever you fancy is perfectly fine, so long as it fits in with your dietary goals. Leftovers are awesome for breakfast as there is almost zero prep - just microwave and eat. If you find yourself thinking, "Well, that's not a breakfast food," then ask yourself, "Says whom?"

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All of the photos in this blog post represent things I might eat for breakfast. Now, I'm not saying that you have to eat like I do (not at all - pick your own dietary goals, by all means) but I think you'll agree that everything looks delicious.

Are you tempted to create healthy breakfasts for yourself and begin to form healthy habits?


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2 comments:

  1. I love eating eggs for breakfast.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have a love/hate relationship with breakfast. I love how quick and easy it can be, and that I can choose what I want while the kids can have something else entirely. But, I hate it when I get stuck in a rut and find myself eating the same foods over and over and not enjoying them.
    This post has given me lots of ideas! Back to loving breakfast again :D

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