Opinion: How to kick sugar habit starting with breakfast

Eating well isn’t just about weight-loss, it’s about providing your body with the nutrients needed to function to its optimum and support your overall health.

As January progresses it can be a challenge to stick to those resolutions that many of us started with such enthusiasm only a few weeks ago, but if you did pledge to eat healthier in 2017, you should now be starting to see and feel the benefits.

Reducing your sugar intake is top of the list when committing to a healthy eating plan, however, kicking the sugar habit isn’t easy. This is because sugar is addictive, the more you eat, the more you crave it. One 150kcal chocolate bar/biscuit per day will add an extra lb of fat every three to four weeks and in the long-term it can increase the risk of a whole range of health problems including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and hormone imbalances including PMS.

Regular consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates; such as white bread, white pasta, breakfast cereals, biscuits and cakes, can have a strong impact upon your brain function too, as it interferes with the receptors in the brain for neurotransmitters. The brain thinks the receptors are already full so reduces production of the neurotransmitters, which results in sweet cravings and mood swings. So, it really is worth sticking with it, be strong and don’t give in! Sugar and refined carbohydrates have no nutritional value; they are a source of empty calories as the processing removes any vitamins and minerals.

Public Health England recently reported children consume over half the recommended sugar intake before they started school, so here are a few suggestions for low-sugar breakfasts that are easy to make, tasty and very nutritious:

Nutrition Tips:

l Prep breakfast the night before

l Alternate at least three different breakfasts each week for a good variation of nutrients

l Combine protein and carbohydrates to help stabilise blood sugar levels, keeping you feeling fuller for longer

l Avoid shop-bought cereals and beware of smoothies, which can be high in sugar.

Breakfasts:

1 Porridge – Great source of fibre, supports heart health and good for blood sugar balancing. Choose proper organic, jumbo oats and organic, whole cows milk.

Variations:

l Berries and chopped nuts/seeds

l Chopped banana and homemade nutella*

l Sautéed apple/pear with cinnamon and chopped nuts/seeds

l Add grated apple and cinnamon, simmer, serve with almond nut butter

2 Home-made Granola* – Good source of protein and rich in energy from healthy fats. Beta-glucan has been shown to support heart health. Beware supermarket varieties, as they can be high in sugar and salt. Serve with whole milk and natural yoghurt, berries or chopped banana.

3 Eggs – Great source of high quality protein; contains vitamins D, K and the B vitamins. Supports heart health and brain function. Serve boiled, poached, scrambled or in an omelette. Add avocado, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms or green vegetables to maximise nutrient content. Try my egg muffins*, which are also a great for kids lunch boxes.

4 Avocado and feta on sourdough – Mash an avocado with some lemon juice, black pepper and a little olive oil, spread on sourdough/gluten-free toast and sprinkle with some crumbled feta and/or cherry tomatoes.

5 Overnight oats* – Prep the night before and leave in the fridge. Swap whole milk for a home made nut milk, such as almond, hemp or brazil nut for added nutritional benefits.

*Recipes for my homemade nutella, granola, egg muffins and overnight oats are available on my website.