Breakfast is often referred to the most important meal of the day. Some people get this concept some don't. Breakfast for a lot of people actually looks lot more like dessert. Just yesterday we were in a local restaurant and watched a guy sitting in the booth across from us enjoy waffles à la mode. Really, ice cream for breakfast on top of a sweet bread, topped with liquid sugar and whip cream. Why is that even an option for breakfast? Seriously!!!
They all look pretty delicious don't they!
You might recognize that waffles à la mode isn't an ideal breakfast but do you know why?
#1 - The obvious one is this type of breakfast is packed with sugar. I don't think I need to explain why the sugar in this amount is bad.
#2 - We love our fat but we also love getting it from quality sources and this type of breakfast is also extremely fat dense. This combination of high fat and high sugar/carbohydrate is the reason we have the obesity epidemic that faces us in this country. The calorie density is through the roof when you combine sugar and fat, our brains just don't know when to say enough is enough when you combine those things.
#3 - Breakfast is also a unique meal. If you look at it's name "Break - Fast" this is the meal that breaks what is likely a 8-10 hour fast depending on when you last ate the previous night. It is because we are in this fasted state that our body is primed to absorb more of the energy that we provide it.
This happens mainly due to us being more insulin sensitive after a fast. That means that your body will easily transport blood glucose (carbs) into cells. Now if you worked out at 6 a.m. and you then consume a carb dense breakfast that carbohydrate/glucose will get transported to muscle tissue. That's a good thing! If you roll out of bed and have an Ego waffle, bowl of cereal, or a bowl of oatmeal topped with brown sugar and raisins, that carbohydrate will likely get stored in fat cells.
#3 - Lastly, a meal like those mentioned so far is lacking almost all nutritional value. In general, color is a sign of a food's nutritional value. If you didn't cook a waffle, that whole plate would be white = zero nutrition.
When you combine combine, calorie dense, blood sugar spiking, and nutrient poor all together in one food/meal you are either having one hell of a treat meal or trying to develop diabetes.
How do you upgrade your breakfast?
#1 - Eat a balanced meal or for some a lower carbohydrate meal depending on how sensitive you are to carbohydrates. Balanced meal means getting equal amount of calories from protein, fats and carbs. The one that is hardest for most is the protein source. Some of our favorite ways to add protein to breakfast is egg whites, protein powder via a shake or pancakes, or meat of some kind. Studies have even shown that a protein dense breakfast will help stave off hunger throughout the entire day, meaning less snacking and more calories consumed.
#2 - Add some vegetables! Yeah we said it veggies for breakfast. Not only does this up the nutritional value the meal it also adds some fiber. Try to make 1/3 of your plate a veggie! Our go to is sauteed broccoli slaw or steamed broccoli. By adding fiber you you slow down the digestion process and therefore will avoid blood sugar spikes and as much of that energy getting sent off to fat cells.
#3 - Keep it simple. The morning can be a tough time to put a fancy breakfast together. Why do you think cereal is a breakfast staple, convenience. So just make something else that fits the above criteria convenient for you. For a long time this meant have a shake for breakfast that was balanced nutritional and loaded up with some greens to get veggies. Overnight oats that contain some extra protein, greek yogurt with berries, or egg muffins.
#4 - Find something that you like and works for you and stick with it. Variety is important for diet but that means throughout the day, not day to day. Breakfast for us is almost identical 5 days a week, eggs, broccoli of some form and plantains. Find what works for you.
The common thread that connects all these tips, is having a plan. That starts with maybe building anywhere from an extra 5 minutes up to 20 minutes to prepare an upgraded breakfast. It means having some healthier options stocked in the fridge, freezer and pantry. It means knowing ahead of time what you are going to make or meal prepping earlier in the week.
We would love to hear what are your go-to breakfast options?
I honestly have no idea where I first heard about baby-led weaning...maybe it was one of the natural mom's groups I'm in on facebook...but wherever it was, I'm SO thankful! Baby-led weaning is basically skipping the stage where you spoon feed your baby purées. It's a way to introduce solid foods that allows them to feed themselves. They sit with the family and eat whatever they're having (within reason of course) but the pieces are just cut into easy to grab chunks.
You start baby-led weaning at 6 months of age or whenever your baby is able to sit upright, pick up pieces of food and take them to their mouth and "chew" them. I put chew in quotations because I know there are some babies that don't get teeth until later on but they can still gum things...you would probably just want to give them softer things like steamed veggies, potatoes etc...although their gums are really hard so you can even give them apples and other hard things too.
A few benefits of baby-led weaning from some of the research I did and from asking the opinions of other mama's:
* allows babies to explore taste, texture, color and smell
* encourages independence and confidence
* helps to develop their hand-eye coordination and chewing skills
* makes picky eating and mealtime battles less likely
It actually makes a lot of sense because as their teeth come in, it produces saliva which contains digestive enzymes and this generally happens along the same time line as digestion and intestinal development of necessary enzymes. Eli is exclusively breastfed and gets all the nutrients he needs from that for right now so eating food is really just for fun and learning! "Food before 1 is just for fun" is a quote I heard somewhere and it's stuck with me for some reason. It helps me to remember that I really don't need to be super concerned with making sure he's eating a lot at every single meal.
If you eat mostly whole foods, this should be pretty easy for you. If you don't...maybe it's a good time to make the switch!! You'll get healthy and feel so much better while making sure your baby does too.
I know what you're thinking...won't he choke?? There are definitely things you need to be aware of and safety precautions to take, but nope...we've never actually had a moment where we thought he was going to choke or be in any danger! The video below was as close as we came to "choking" but in everything I read, they said to just sit on your hands and let them figure it out!
Obviously if he's actually choking and not gagging, or blue in the face then YES, you will step in and help...but if it's a little gag or cough, just chill out. They will actually LEARN how to take smaller bites, spit out things they can't swallow and maneuver foods inside their mouths...it's pretty amazing watching Eli do this...so all we have to do is sit back and help as little as needed.
We started him with sweet potatoes, apples (he had about 4 teeth when we started), avocado, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, bananas, red peppers, cauliflower, cucumber, watermelon, celery....and have gradually added in eggs and a few pieces of meat lately. We also did puffs on a flight to Cancun...because HELLO...3 1/2 hours on a plane with an 8 month old is just scary. They kept him super occupied and he did great! We also have been giving him veggie straws for little snacks in the car.
You should stay away from things with lots of salt, sugar, fast food, honey, shellfish, shark, marlin and under-cooked eggs...but that's about it!
This kid LOVES food which makes this mama (and his dad too of course) SO HAPPY. I would HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend baby-led weaning if you have a little one that's about to start eating real food. Seriously. If you've never heard of it, check out this book: Baby Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods. Or google it obviously, there are loads of resources out there. I'm also part of a baby led weaning group on facebook that really helped me get over my fears of him choking and to just GO FOR IT.
I'm happy to answer any questions if you have any...just shoot me a message or leave us a comment!
The Cook & The Coach
Healthy is a LIFESTYLE.