We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A good breakfast provides us with essential nutrients, controls our blood sugar levels, and gives us energy to start afresh. Yet we continue to make wrong breakfast choices unaware of what to eat and what to skip early in the morning. Consuming our first meal of the day in a wrong way can have a great impact on our health. To solve this issue, The Week spoke to nutritionist Dr Jaya Pradhan, who is an associate professor at PK Multiple Campus in Bagbazar, Kathmandu, to figure out what are the most common breakfast mistakes that people make and how can those be rectified. Read on to find out how the right breakfast can set the tone for an active day and, in the long run, improve overall health as well.
Food on the go
“Many people have to reach office by nine or ten in the morning, and there are ten different things that need our attention before that. So they find it convenient to have readymade packaged food for breakfast,” says Pradhan. “But having packaged food early in the morning is an extremely bad habit. You must change this habit for your own good,” she adds. Packaged food, especially in our country, is not rich in nutrients, minerals and vitamins that our body needs. Just having a slice of bread or biscuits on your way to office is the wrong way to start your day. Your breakfast must comprise of sufficient amount of healthy ingredients.
“College students, on the other hand, like having breakfast in their college canteen. But most colleges in Kathmandu and elsewhere in Nepal do not provide healthy and nutritious food to their students. They skimp on quality to make more profit,” says Pradhan. Students should have healthy and fresh breakfast before leaving their homes. Else, Pradhan recommends they take salads and fruits along with them to compensate for the imbalanced canteen food.
Having breakfast at the wrong time
It is very common in the cities of Nepal to leave for office early in the morning after having lunch (or rather bruch) at home. “If you wake up at six in the morning make sure your stomach is not empty till nine,” says Pradhan. “You must have a light breakfast in the morning so that your stomach is not empty for a long time,” she adds. According to Pradhan, if a person does not eat for a long period of time, they tend to overeat when they have their next meal. Hence, if you intend to have lunch before leaving for office, have something within an hour of waking up. This way you will avoid overeating and keep yourself healthy.
It is also a very common practice among office goers to just grab a bite for breakfast on their way to work. This habit will surely leave you hungry after a short while. So if you are extremely short on time, carry boiled eggs, fruits and dry fruits along with you to avoid junk. “It is also an extremely bad idea to skip breakfast,” warns Pradhan.
Many diet conscious people tend to avoid any kind of fats during their breakfast. But one must realize that their breakfast must have a combination of all five food groups i.e. vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and protein. Hence, butter and cheese in the right amount is important to complete a healthy breakfast set. Along with it, you must also have fruits and fruit juices, milk for calcium, eggs for protein and oatmeal and cereals for carbohydrates and fiber. “Remember to have a balanced breakfast with sufficient amount of fats. This will give you energy all day long,” says Pradhan.
Having traditional breakfast
Having ‘jeri swari’, ‘puri tarkari’ or ‘samosa’ for breakfast is not a new thing in our country. These dietary habits have been followed for generations. “I remember having ‘jeri swari’ every morning when I was growing up. But I don’t recommend that now,” says Pradhan. “In those days, people were physically active as they had to perform a lot of physical labor. So their body could easily burn that fat. Now, however, lifestyles are changing and our eating habits must match that lifestyle,” says Pradhan. Indulging in too much sugar and oil is definitely not the right way to start
Milk tea in the morning
“Most Nepalis don’t start their day without a cup of tea. Many don’t even get out of their beds without it. But this is an extremely bad habit which people must avoid,” says Pradhan. This habit may lead to gastritis problems and may even cause stomach bloating. Having milk tea early in the morning will surely increase acidity and may even cause ulcer. Tea is said to have caffeine which increases the metabolism of our body but once mixed with milk, the antioxidants present in the tea get destroyed causing more harm than good. Hence, it is important to replace milk tea with green or black tea if you wish to remain healthy in the long run.