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Yummy and healthy: Get your breakfast right

Yummy and healthy: Get your breakfast right

Your body is like a steam engine, it needs adequate fuel to start chugging in the morning.

MEET Meenu, a 28-year-old executive with a fast-rising advertising firm. Breakfast competes with her tight schedule, so she simply skips it.

Her logic: "I'll reach work early and get more done before lunch. Then, I can use the afternoon hour to go for a jog, and grab a healthy veggie sandwich on my way back to office."

Surprise. A month later, Meenu feels heavier and duller than she did before her no-breakfast routine. Dr Ritika Samaddar, Chief dietician at Delhi's Max Hospital, explains why. "Over a period of time, going without breakfast drives you to binge during the day.

The result: your weight goes up and your energy levels come down. Worse, an empty stomach hampers clear thinking, making you less productive and creative," she says.

Dr Nalini Karunakaran, Mumbai-based vaidya, agrees with Samaddar. "Your body is like a steam engine," she says.

"It needs adequate fuel to start chugging in the morning. Otherwise, it is forced to run on the morning's momentum. And we worsen matters by throwing buckets of coal (a big dinner) into its dying fire at night. Overheated but stationary, the engine creaks and groans, giving you a restless night and a dull, tired morning."

Plan your breakfast

'Eat something in the morning' doesn't mean you should grab just anything you can in a hurry. "Foods high on sugar and low on carbohydrates cause a drop in the blood-sugar levels and make you feel weak," says Dr K K Aggarwal, senior Delhi cardiologist. He says a healthy breakfast should include:

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i. Fruits and fruit juices

... such as orange, grapefruit, papaya, guava, apples and berries. This nutritional gold is rich in vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants. Fruits also build appetite for lunch, stimulate regular bowel movement, and increase vitality and alertness.

ii. Cereals, bread and whole-grain porridge - this family gives you your daily supply of complex carbohydrates, which help your body release glucose steadily into your blood stream to maintain stable blood sugar levels.

"However, for those with diabetes or metabolic syndrome, egg white omelettes would be wiser choices," says Dr Manoj Kumar Aggrwal, senior Delhi-based orthopaedic surgeon.

iii. Protein-rich foods: Such as soya milk, skimmed milk, low fat yoghurt and cottage cheese, to help your body build essential amino acids. Dr. Karunakaran suggests adding a pinch of turmeric to your glass of milk, so that you can get the anti-inflammatory, healing benefits of this wonder spice.

iv. Eggs: Two to three times a week is ideal. Low-cost, high-quality protein, quick to cook, and good to eat.

v. Nuts and seeds: Rich in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, they boost brain function. Sprinkle some sunflower seeds and chopped almonds over muesli or on your yoghurt.

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Do have breakfast--Come what may!

Mad Monday morning? Quick, drink your breakfast!

That's what Brendan Byrne, Head Chef at Ireland's Monart Spa, does. "I love to start my day with a tasty and healthful Fruit-and-Yoghurt Smoothie. Do use a good quality yoghurt and some soft fruit," says the sprightly chef.

Byrne says pineapples, kiwis, peaches and plums blend easily and come packed with anti-oxidants and vitamins. "A useful tip - your favourite pro biotic drink can be incorporated into your smoothie quite easily," he adds.

Not hungry at 7? Carry some bread, cheese, crackers or a fruit for later in the morning.

On a Diet? Please, not in the morning! Look what happened to Meenu. During her no-breakfast phase, she never did grab a healthy sandwich: she headed straight for the McDonald's nearby. So, do your dieting at dinner time--you will sleep better and wake up fresher.

Habitually skip breakfast?

Work your way back to it with these tips from Dr Nalini Karunakaran:

i. Cure constipation (the likeliest cause you're missing breakfast) by eating a few raisins or prunes soaked in water overnight.

ii. This is a time-tested remedy for constipation. Stimulate your bowels with a large glass of warm water spiked with a fresh-squeezed lemon and a spoonful of raw honey. Don't keep late nights--it kills the appetite in the morning.

iii. And finally, wake up 15 minutes earlier than you usually do-this will give you enough time to stew your apple or cook your cereal.

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Like a king?

"Sure, you should treat breakfast like a king, other leader or mentor -- with respect and as a matter of priority," says Dr Aggarwal, "But focus more on substance and nourishment than on size."

Karunakaran adds this very interesting Ayurvedic logic:

The strength of your digestive fire follows the rhythm of the sun: it is gentle in the morning, peaks at noon, and dims by evening. That's why it makes sense to eat a light to moderate breakfast. Eating breakfast like a king is like asking a candle to cook stew for a party!

So, raise a (whole wheat) toast to breakfast, and have a great day.

Breakfast, spa style:

What you need:

Golden Door Muesli with Yoghurt and Fresh Fruit

(courtesy the Golden Door Spa, Escondido, California)

Makes approx. 3-4 servings (~240-300 calories/serving)

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/4 cup sliced almonds

2 Tablespoons honey

1/2 cup grated red or green apple, unpeeled

2 tbsp diced dried figs

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp grated orange zest

1 cup plus 2 tbsp low-fat yoghurt

1 1/2 cups mixed chopped fruits, such as apples, pears, peaches, plums, half banana, and/or berries

How you make it:

i. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

ii. Toast the oats for 15 minutes on a rimmed baking sheet. Remove from the oven and add the almonds.

iii. Using a metal spatula, stir the mixture well.

iv. Return to the oven for about 5 minutes longer, or until the almonds begin to turn golden.Drizzle with the honey, stir well, and back for about 5 minutes longer, until the mixture is fragrant and golden. Transfer to a large bowl and cool.

v. Add the grated apple, figs, cinnamon, and the orange zest, tossing to combine. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

vi. To serve, spoon into bowls and top with the yoghurt and fresh fruit.

Bon Appetit!

first published:May 21, 2009, 15:47 IST