You might be wondering what foods to put on your plate for brekkie when you quit sugar, and we know you’ve heard it countless times before – breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and, when it comes to blood sugar regulation and energy levels, it really is.
A balanced breakfast can help you power through the day without a 3 o’clock slump in sight or those midnight sugar cravings you’ve grown accustomed to. There are a few elements to take into consideration when deciding what to eat for breakfast when you’re ditching sugar.
Prioritise savoury foods: A lot of us are held back by the belief that only certain foods can be eaten for brekkie – think pancakes, toast and cereal. But there’s no base to these claims, you can eat anything for breakfast – and it doesn’t have to be sweet. It can be easier to load savoury foods with nutrients, especially considering the limitless options, from whole grains to veggies, tofu and even fermented foods like kimchi and Sauerkraut. Don’t hold back!
Eat whole foods: One way to ensure you’re not getting slipped added sugars is by cutting out those heavily processed brekkie foods. That includes a range of cereals and flavoured porridge sachets – if you’re going for grains in the morning, stick to plain, whole oats. Instead of flavoured yoghurts, go for the plain and natural kinds.
Eat leftovers: We’re often at our most tired in the mornings, so it can be hard to work up the motivation to prepare a nutritious breakfast. But this doesn’t mean you have to miss out – if you’re a slow-riser, simply enjoy some of last night’s leftovers. Whether it’s soup or curry, there’s no reason you can’t eat it for breakfast!
Eat for gut health: Prioritising gut health is one of the essentials for brekkie, and to make sure you get off to a good start, you’ll want to go for healthy fats, protein, probiotics and fibre.
What about breakfast cereals?
Cereal is the brekkie of choice for many, but despite its convenience, it’s not always the most nutritious way to start the day – that is, if you’re relying on the highly-processed products you’ll find lining the supermarket shelves. But if you’re a cereal enthusiast, there is another way to enjoy your favourite brekkie – make it from scratch. Muesli and oats are great options to make the base of your cereal, and when you use real, whole ingredients, you won’t have to worry about all those added sugars. You can add in your choice of the following:
- Nuts like almonds, cashews and pistachios
- Seeds like chia, pumpkin and hemp
- Fruits like banana and apple – avoid dried fruits
- Milks and plant-based milks like oat, almond or hemp milk
But this doesn’t mean you can’t consume processed cereals in moderation. In fact, they’re not all bad, so be sure to read the labels for added sugars. The fewer ingredients, the better. Brands like Weet Bix, which have just 3 grams of sugar per serve, tend to be a decent option on the lower end of the sugar scale, but making your own cereal is the key to boosting the nutritional profile of your meal.
Now, for the nutrients to prioritise when you’re building your brekkie:
Yep, that’s right – veggies aren’t just for dinner! You can eat these nutritional powerhouses in the morning too, in fact, they’ll help reign in your sugar cravings throughout the day. Aim to get around 2 to 3 serves of veggies during breakfast. This could be as simple as putting mushroom, spinach and tomato into your morning omelette. If you can load up on your serves of veggies in the morning, there’s no doubt you’ll end up getting your 5 serves before the day is done.
Starting your day with healthy fats is a good way to keep your hunger in check until your next meal. In fact, studies have found monounsaturated fats help balance blood-sugar levels and keep us fuller for longer. Another type of healthy fat – known as medium chain triglycerides – have been found to decrease appetite and sugar cravings throughout the day. Plus, we all know about the benefits of omega 3s for brain health, but did you know they also help keep our hormones regulated? This is essential for maintaining hunger and sleep function, therefore reducing our chances of falling asleep by mid-afternoon. Try these foods for your healthy fats:
- Nuts and nut butters
- Coconuts, including coconut milk
- Seeds like chia, flax and hemp
- Ghee and yoghurt
- Olive oil
We often think of protein as a dinner type of food, but it’s actually beneficial to start your day with this muscle-strengthening nutrient. It has been found not only to promote muscle health, but also support weight loss and regulate our satiety hormones. Here are a few high-protein foods:
- Yoghurt and ghee
- Lentils, chickpeas and mung beans
- Tofu and natto (fermented soy beans)
The latter make for an exceptional addition to your plate, packing in 30% of our daily protein needs in a single egg. It’s also a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids.
Dysregulated blood sugars is one of the major reasons for those afternoon slumps and fatigue. Slow-release carbs are your answer – these are digested slower, meaning we won’t get those blood-sugar spikes. It also means we’ll feel fuller for longer and won’t have the constant urge to snack. Plus, their prebiotic content promotes gut health, which is a massive part of regulating hunger signals and maintaining energy levels. Here are the foods to add to your breakfast:
- Whole fruits and veggies
- Whole grains like buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa and wholemeal bread
- Seeds and nuts
- Legumes like chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans
Need a little inspiration to get you started? Try this recipe from our Healthy Breakfast Cookbook eBook.
Sweet Pumpkin Bruschetta
- 200 grams leftover roast pumpkin, reheated
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups rocket leaves
- 50 grams feta cheese
- 20 grams pine nuts or cashews, toasted
- 4 slices sourdough bread, toasted
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to season
- Toss reheated pumpkin pieces in cinnamon. Set aside.
- Once you’ve toasted your bread, spread half of the feta on each piece, top with rocket leaves, cinnamon, pumpkin and pine nuts or cashews. Sprinkle with remaining feta and with black pepper to serve.
Note: If you don’t have any leftover pumpkin, simply trim 350g of any type of pumpkin (or sweet potato), cut into 2cm chunks, toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil, cinnamon and a pinch of sea salt. Bake for 30 minutes until soft.
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