It’s not at all uncommon during a Q & A section following a seminar that I’m asked about breakfast. “I usually eat cereal.” “I have tea and toast with some jam.” “I always eat a muffin on the go with coffee. It’s quick and easy. Besides, what else is there to eat? Eggs take too long to make especially when I’m running out the door to work.”
I hear you friends! We’ve all been trained well by the food industry about what’s appropriate to eat for breakfast. Cereal, bagels, muffins, doughnuts, croissants, and similar items top the list. While they’re tasty, convenient and fit into a fast-paced lifestyle, eating these types of processed foods day-in and day-out will not lead us to a goal of increasing our health, stamina, and authentic body shape.
All these foods in fact convert into sugar upon ingestion. They’ll carry us for a little bit of time, but then the sugar rush ends and we come crashing down. To pick ourselves back up and satisfy the typical famished feeling following a sugar crash, we reach for more carb-like processed foods for a snack or lunch. And, then it’s more of the same. More carbohydrates turn into sugar which then raises our insulin levels fast. Not to long thereafter, our sugar levels will drop and we become tired and famished all over again. And again. Can you see the cycle we all too often get caught up in?
While, convenience is important in our lives, (and the food industry certainly capitalizes on this), I rank our health, at the very least, as equally important as convenience. It has to be. And, I absolutely don’t think convenience and good health have to be mutually exclusive by the way. Incorporating healthier, enjoyable breakfast options will initially take some extra thought. After all, it means breaking the automatic and mindless behavior of eating simply for convenience and replacing it with another more present and mindfully engage behavior of eating with intention. The intention of course is to eat a breakfast, (and all meals), that will add love, nourishment, and enjoyable nutritional value to our bodies and lives.
So, how can we affect this change? Start with how you want to feel inside and out. Most of us would appreciate feeling less heavy, (emotionally and physically), with reduced stress and fatigue. Once you know how you’d like to feel, then consider ways to achieve those feelings.
How are some of my ways:
1) Slow down and breathe – Until we slow ourselves down, we won’t be in a position to even think about, let alone notice, what we eat for breakfast. It’s essential to get out of our “autopilot” state of mind and become more self-aware. One essential way to initiate the slow down process is through deep breathing. Slow down your heartrate, reduce your distractions, and practice deep, relaxed breathing as often as you can. This will help us all to begin to self-reflect.
2) Reflect – While you’re getting more familiar and consistent with slowing down and deep breathing, give yourself some time to think about what you would enjoy eating for breakfast other than what you’re currently eating. If you slow down enough and reflect on this, you may even discover that you’re not even really enjoying what’ve been eating for breakfast. But, think about this. Don’t hold back. Let loose and write down everything you can imagine you would enjoy. Be creative. And, by the way, breakfast doesn’t have to be defined exclusively by something typical for breakfast.
For example, I can easily eat leftovers for breakfast. Absolutely yes! At first, eating a hamburger patty with salad for breakfast seemed rather bizarre. But, the more I thought about it, the less the thought sounded gross. At this point, eating a burger or chicken leg or whatever no longer phases me. What makes less sense to me is how the food industry has convinced us as a nation that cereal is a tasty and healthy breakfast option. That’s an exercise in great marketing of a relatively tasteless, nutrient light weight, pseudo-food. If you’re having trouble with your creativity, then get on-line and research.
3) Research and find recipes – There are so many free on-line recipes as well as recipe books available, it’s staggering. But, check it out. As far as books go, I always like to mention, “Practical Paleo”, by Diane Sanfilippo. The front of the book talks a lot about the body and which foods are healthy to eat. The back of the book is loaded with really good recipes. I highly recommend it! And, fear not, this book includes a very nice amount of breakfast food options including muffins, pancakes, bacon, egg dishes, and more. I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised. Once you hone in on a new breakfast item or 2, time to shop for high quality ingredients.
4) Shop for clean food at your local green market, local health food store or online – Let’s say the weekend is coming up and you’ve decided you want to make some banana pancakes. Get prepared. Buy enough green-tipped bananas, organic eggs, vanilla, salt, pasture-raised bacon, grade B maple syrup, etc. ahead of time. Anything and everything you need, have it at home from at least the day before. Frequently, when shopping for quality ingredients you may initially need extra time to know where to shop. Be an explorer and plan ahead! I know foods like meat or produce look alike when one compares organic/local/pasture-raised/wild to conventional. There are big differences though which I will comment on in a future blog/article.
5) Prepare your food the night before /Make more than 1 serving at a time – There are plenty of easy and healthy breakfast items to eat during the week before going to work. It’s frequently a matter of making the dishes the night or several nights before. Certainly, healthy and very tasty muffins can be baked any time and then frozen. Egg frittata dishes loaded with veggies and seasonings are terrific from the night before. Just a quick warm in the microwave, and you’ll have a very full, and satisfying breakfast which is bound to keep your blood sugar levels level. And when you go through the effort of baking, double the batch and freeze your extras!
6) Don’t change everything at once – Seriously, don’t set yourself up to become overwhelmed. If need be, start by altering just 1 breakfast a week. Get good and comfortable with your new routine and new flavors. Continue deep breathing and take note. How are you enjoying your new breakfast dish? Is it delicious as is? Does it need some modifications? Give yourself time, pay attention, and work on making that dish one that you absolutely love. Go slowly. Eventually, move on to another dish, and then another. But, give yourself time and a process. Let your confidence build and your creativity swell.
I’m certain the above tips provide at least some things to consider when it comes to expanding your breakfast choices and integrating those changes into your daily life. Remember, this should be a discovery process allowing for slowing down, self-discovery, creativity, fun, a sense of accomplishment, wonderful tastes, and optimizing health. Nothing has to be written in stone and nothing has to be perfect.
If you decide ultimately that you really love your breakfast cereal then absolutely include it as 1 of your breakfast options for the week. Just give yourself a real chance to expand and honor your desire for great health and your authentic body shape. Reviving your breakfast meal is a first and very important step towards self-care, self-love, and healthy change.
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