I’m a great breakfast eater and usually eat something within the hour after getting out of bed in the morning. Often oats, sometimes eggs, frequently fruit and every now and again as a full-assault English breakfast. I’m an early riser (usually about 6 am) and it keeps me going until lunchtime – without something substantial under my belt I know I would flag and even be tempted to have a mid-morning frenzy of food.
Not everyone feels the same as I do and some skip breakfast altogether. But
is breakfast the best meal of the day? Should we endeavour to have at least a couple of mouthfuls or doesn’t it matter? Much will depend upon individual choice, time restraints, early morning toleration of foodstuffs and how your pouch accepts or seemingly rejects what’s on offer at breakfast time.
But what do the bariatric surgeons think of breakfast? Is it the best meal of the day? Our guest bariatric surgeon Dr Sally Norton gives us her perspective on this ….
Is a good breakfast essential?
I am not really a breakfast person, but for years felt I should have a hearty breakfast as it was billed as the best way to start the day. Could the cereal manufacturers have had a part in that, I wonder?! In fact, there is no good evidence that a full-on breakfast is essential for health or weight control. What’s more the classic sugary cereal with fruit juice could be sabotaging our weight control efforts by giving us a sugar dip mid-morning, leaving us reaching for a sugary snack to top our energy levels up again.
In a rush?
So, as someone who can happily survive without much food first thing (later on in the day is entirely different!) I am happy to just grab a banana and go. Another quick option would be to blitz a ripe banana and some oats (great for the heart) in a blender with some ice, milk (or almond milk for a lower cal, dairy free option) and fresh or frozen berries if available. The resultant smoothie is filling and full of nutrition, without the excess of sugar found in shop-bought smoothies.
However, I try hard to do a bit of exercise in the morning when I can (as I just can’t find the willpower later in the day!) and need a bit more than a banana then. Protein and carbs are shown to be beneficial after exercising – either a veg and tuna omelette with extra egg white or a bowl of Greek yoghurt and blueberries and a piece of wholemeal toast. Protein is often neglected by women – but it is a better breakfast choice than sugary granola or muesli. If you are someone who needs a good breakfast, whether exercising or not, choose eggs or other protein sources, oats and other wholegrains and whole fresh fruit packed with fibre rather than fruit juice.
And I never forget my caffeine!
I can’t seem to get going without a coffee though. Caffeine was billed as bad – but actually, plenty of studies show a beneficial effect if you don’t overdo it. What’s more, a recent review from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) showed that caffeine may protect against certain cancers and does not seem to increase the risk of others. However, I am trying to let my usual black coffee cool a bit, or add milk, as drinking any fluids at temperatures of over 65 C may be associated with an increased risk of some cancers. I try to restrict my caffeine habit to two or three as overdosing isn’t great for mood and concentration – and I avoid coffee after lunch to ensure it doesn’t disrupt my precious sleep. I also steer well clear of the huge, calorie laden lattes and similar in the hospital Costa – they can have the equivalent of a quarter of my day’s calorie needs plus loads of sugar!
Article by Dr Sally Norton. NHS weight loss consultant surgeon. UK health expert. Founder of www.vavistalife.com