The makings of a healthy breakfast, according to COMO Shambhala's nutritionist
Good morning sunshine
Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day — they provide the sustenance and fuel for the day ahead. To help you dig in like a champ, COMO Shambhala's nutritionist Eve Persak shares what goes into a healthy breakfast, her favourite food to start the day and tips on making that healthy breakfast a reality.
Start your first meal with hydration
Coffee, tea or water? Hold off on your caffeinated coffee or tea and reach for good old fashion water to kick-start breakfast — and the day. Water plays an essential role in hydrolytic reactions, chemical processes present in nearly every digestive and metabolic reaction. In layman terms, water is required to break down your food and convert it to fuel for energy use. A warm or tepid glass of water helps relax the muscles surrounding the digestive tract, which prepares it to receive your food. And because it's hard to distinguish between hunger and thirst — we eat more when we are thirsty — downing water first will help gauge how hungry you actually are.
Choose your carbohydrates wisely
Rice, potatoes, pasta — bring on the carbohydrates galore. Carbs are life, but it's important to choose them wisely. Avoid carbohydrates that can impact your blood sugar levels (or those with a higher glycemic index) such as refined grains (i.e. white flour products and white rice). Sweeteners — sugar, syrup or a concentrated sweeteners — should also be avoided, as they spike your sugar levels. This affects your hormones — raising hunger hormones and reduces satiety hormones. The end result? You'll crave for more carbs throughout the day; your mood destabilises; and you may find it harder to focus mentally.
A surprise member of the carbohydrate family, fiber is the safest and most beneficial of all. Fibers keep you satisfied longer due to their ability to slow movement from your stomach to your small intestines. This leaves you feeling satisfied longer after eating and can curtail the number of calories you consume over the course of the day. If you have the habit of taking probiotics in the morning, fiber supports these live micro-organisms. Need that feeling of snugness in your top skirt button after a meal? Fiber is high on volume but low on calories. In other words, while fiber expands your waistline temporarily, it protects your waistline in the long run. Good sources of fiber include vegetables and fruits — taken in their whole form rather than dried or juiced.
The key to maintaining that weight is starting your day with a protein-rich breakfast. Research had shown that a protein-rich breakfast predisposes you to eat less for the rest of the day. For those focusing on more rigorous training or exercising for fitness, proteins ensure that your musculature has what it needs. Carbohydrates and protein make an excellent pair. Proteins digest more slowly, so they pair excellently with carbohydrates — anchoring or balancing the carbohydrates effects on blood sugar levels.
An often over-looked meal component, oils are especially beneficial for individuals who have a fast-paced, busy morning and for people who have lunch at variable timings. Out of the three macronutrients (fiber, protein and oils), it is digested most slowly so it's going to help you fill satisfied longer. Does the 10.30am to 11am blood sugar plunge sound familiar? We have all been there but good news — oils provide a steady stream of fuel that protects you from such sudden dips.
"We [COMO Shambhala] have a delicious poached egg dish with steamed greens and this beautiful green goddess sauce. The sauce is made of herbs and greens, but also avocado and olive oil - so the dish is a lovely mix of high-quality protein, fiber and oil. We also have a tasty nut and seeds granola which guests can enjoy with a bit of yogurt - whether it's plant-based yogurt or Greek yogurt. This combination is also a great way to have the protein from the yogurt, the fiber from the fruits and the oils from the nuts and seeds. Some people love a savoury breakfast so I'm totally cool with a wholegrain porridge or even with a lentil curry."