Updated: Apr 9, 2020
Whoever said breakfast was the most important meal of the day was definitely on to something...but they probably should have been more specific as to what kind of breakfast.
For some of us, the idea of breakfast consists of cereal and milk, or a scone or bagel with coffee, or a stack of diner pancakes with orange juice. And on occasion, when the mood strikes, I say enjoy the heck out of that doughnut without any shame or guilt!
But, for those of us who make those choices daily because we are unaware of the impact on our health, mood, brain function, and hormones- this is where I need to step in and drop some knowledge. Because it's not exactly our fault. We are told orange juice and cereal is a great way to start our day! But the truth is, the overload of sugar, especially first thing in the morning, is absolutely detrimental to our health.
Breakfast is this amazing opportunity to set the tone for the day...what we choose will impact when we are hungry next, if we have intense cravings throughout the day, how moody we may be to our spouse or boss, or even whether or not we are clear-headed for that interview or presentation. This has everything to do with blood sugar balance.
Keeping our blood sugar balanced throughout the day is one of the best things we can do for optimal health and wellness. This is because with intense spikes of glucose in our bloodstream (from that soda or doughnut) comes intense crashes (irritability, fatigue, reaching for more sugar); so we fuel up with another high carb, high sugar meal, only to repeat this process over and over again. Once we set that process in motion with our breakfast choice, our body and brain try to compensate throughout the rest of the day....cravings, irritability, fatigue...all signals for us to reach for the next fix.
See, our body does a wonderful job of utilizing glucose for energy. Normally, our pancreas sends out insulin (the fat-storing hormone) to shuffle that glucose into our cells to be delivered to our liver and muscles for energy for later use- which is great! But, when those storage areas are maxed out, the excess glucose then gets stored as fat.
The real problem comes when we are consistently spiking our blood sugar with simple carbohydrates- (think bread, cereal, pasta, doughnuts, soda, candy)- which quickly releases glucose into our bloodstream. That is because it could lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when our cells no longer receive the message to absorb the glucose and shuffle it to our liver and muscles for energy storage. So the pancreas releases MORE insulin. And if they still don't get the message, MORE insulin gets released...eventually, a threshold is reached and the cells finally get the message. But each time this happens, that threshold gets higher and higher, so more and more insulin is needed to trigger the message for the cells to sweep up the glucose and bring it to the liver and muscles. The excess insulin in our blood not only contributes to more fat storage but it also puts a lot of stress on our pancreas and hormone regulation systems. This leads to weight control issues, fatty liver, hormone imbalances, poor brain function, and we exponentially increase our risk for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and chronic illness.
One way to combat those issues is by starting the day with blood sugar balancing breakfast. Look for what I call, the Power Combo Meal: Protein, Fat, and Fiber. A great example of this would be a veggie omelet with sliced avocado. Avocado is an awesome food that would complete both the Fat and Fiber category! Another great breakfast would be smoothies- but hold the excess fruit. These are my personal favorite because they are so quick, and easy and I know I'm getting a nutrient-dense breakfast. Try whipping up a smoothie with almond butter, spinach, flaxseeds or chia seeds and plant-based vanilla protein powder - All the components of a Power Combo Meal!
Switch up your breakfast tomorrow and notice the difference!
Katie Valley is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Health Coach with a background in Public Health Education, she continued her journey to share the holistic approach to optimal health and wellness with family, friends, clients and readers.
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