Our Great British Breakfast Problem

Our Great British Breakfast Problem

A few weeks ago I was invited on to GB News to discuss the problem of high amounts of sugar in children’s cereals. Prior to being interviewed, I went to my local supermarket to do some research and had a good look down the cereals aisle. An aisle I normally skip altogether. Let’s just say that what I found reaffirmed my reasons for avoiding the cereals aisle…

 

WHY WE DON’T RECOMMEND CEREAL

 

I don’t know of any nutritionist who eats, or recommends cereal for breakfast. I’m sure they exist, but my colleagues all agree that cereal does not make for a great start to the day.

 

Now before I go on, I fully appreciate that cereal is by far the most popular breakfast in the UK. Many of us were raised on cereal which can create an attachment to it. And let’s face it, many cereals are really tasty. If I didn’t know better I would be diving into a bowl of maple and pecan crisp each morning and loving every bite.

 

Our country is facing an obesity crisis. Our rates of diabetes and other chronic, lifestyle related diseases are skyrocketing. I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you, but cereals are not helping the cause.

 

WHAT’S SO BAD ABOUT CEREAL?

 

Let’s start with the sugar issue. It’s true that some cereals do contain very high amounts of sugar. Some aimed at children, some not. The presenter on GB News asked me: “If a cereal says ‘sugar’ or ‘honey’ or ‘chocolate’ in the title, is it not obvious that it’s going to be high in sugar?” – Indeed, sometimes there are obvious clues, other times, there are not.

 

Many healthy-looking cereals, mueslis and granolas are loaded with sugar, providing several teaspoons per serving. It is ALWAYS worth checking the label on the back of the packet rather than simply buying into the marketing messages on the front. If you’re not familiar with how to work out how much sugar is in your food, you can read my step by step guide here.

 

It’s also important to remember that, even if a cereal doesn’t contain a high amount of added sugar, most are still based on processed carbohydrates which break down into simple sugars and behave much the same way. More about this later.

 

Oh and those vitamins and minerals cereals claim to be full of? The ‘added goodness’? The clue is in the ‘added’. We don’t have to add vitamins to spinach or eggs or berries. They are already rich in essential nutrients. We add nutrients to processed foods like cereals and bread to replace what’s been lost in the refining process. No synthetic supplement will ever make up for food that’s rich in nutrients in the first place.

 

A HIGH GI START TO THE DAY

 

Back to the processed carbohydrates. The glycemic index (GI) rates carbohydrate foods on how fast they break down into simple sugars. The glycemic index of glucose itself is 100, so the higher the GI of a food, the faster it breaks down into sugar. While cereals like Cornflakes and Rice Krispies don’t have a huge amount of sugar added to them, their starchy carbohydrates break down in just the same way. Both have a GI of over 70 classing them as ‘high GI’, with Cornflakes coming in at 81.

 

Simply put, the refined, starchy carbohydrates these cereals are based on are just as bad as sugar itself.

 

The other problem with a breakfast of cereal is that often it lacks protein, healthy fats and fibre making it nutritionally lacking and unlikely to keep us satisfied until lunchtime.

 

HOW MUCH SUGAR IS IN YOUR BREAKFAST?

 

While we are on the subject of breakfast, let’s look at what else you might be starting your day with:

Cows milk – 9.6g (over two teaspoons) sugar per 200ml serving. Yes, cows milk contains a surprising amount of sugar. It’s naturally occurring, but sugar is sugar and it behaves exactly the same way in the body.

 

Orange juice – 17g (over four teaspoons) sugar per 200ml serving. Again, it’s naturally occurring, but that makes no difference I’m afraid. Same goes for apple and most other fruit juices.

 

Jam – this can vary in sugar content so let’s consider a high quality jam with a higher fruit content and less added sugar like Bonne Maman. Their strawberry jam contains 59g sugar per 100g. Well over half of what we spread on our toast is sugar.

 

This is before we start adding sugar to tea or sprinkling it over our cereal…

 

WHY IS THIS BREAKFAST SO BAD?

 

I always hate to sound like a kill joy. If I made the rules then pasta would be a health food, as would maple and pecan crisp. But I am here to present you with the facts so that you can make informed choices.

 

Unfortunately, there are very real consequences of starting our day with a sugar based on simple carbohydrates.

 

High GI carbohydrates cause a spike in our blood sugar levels. The body can only deal with so much sugar at once so what isn’t immediately used will be carried away and stored. Storage sites in the body include cells in the liver and muscles where sugar is stored as glycogen, and fat cells. Sugar and starchy carbohydrates are not your friends if you’re trying to lose weight or maintain your happy weight.

 

There are many other reasons why existing on a ‘blood sugar rollercoaster’, where your blood sugar level spikes and dips, is not good for health. It’s a primary contributor to diabetes and other chronic diseases.

 

Aside from the health consequences, meals like this are not going to help your energy levels or mental alertness either. When we experience the inevitable blood sugar dip that follows this spike, with it plummets our energy levels and ability to concentrate. Blood sugar dips can make us feel tired, hungry, grumpy and craving a sugar or carb fix to bring them back up.

 

We see this in children. They eat cereal for breakfast and it feels like no time at all before they’re asking for snacks. Back when I ate cereal for breakfast I always needed to eat before lunch time. As do many of our clients when they first come to see us.

 

WHAT SHOULD I EAT INSTEAD?

 

So if cereal and toast are not the best way to start your day, what should you eat?

 

We teach our clients to structure meals around a source of protein, a portion of healthy fats and plenty of vegetables or salad. Some low sugar fruit may also feature.

 

Organic eggs are a great breakfast option. Here are a few ideas for egg based breakfasts that include healthy fats and veg too.

 

A smoothie can be tasty, filling and satisfying if made in the right way. Here’s an article I wrote on how to make the perfect smoothie which includes my go-to recipe.

 

If you’re not ready to ditch cereal, I can highly recommend KetoHana granola as a great alternative.

 

I love Paleo Leap for recipe inspiration. Here they share 30 low carb, nutrient dense breakfast ideas that are bound to keep you satisfied until lunch.

 

Don’t forget that you can eat anything for breakfast. In this country we have a concept of ‘breakfast foods’ but don’t feel bound by this. There are many quick, healthy and delicious alternatives so get creative and try something new!

 



AILSA HICHENS

 

Ailsa is one of our most experienced practitioners. She specialises in helping clients to lose weight, develop a healthy relationship with food and finally feel comfortable in their skin. Ailsa’s mission is for everyone she works with to enjoy the journey and that working with a nutritionist should not be a punishment, but your access to a new possibility.

 

Ailsa is not only an experienced weight loss nutritionist, she is also a skilled coach. She helps our clients overcome emotional eating, destructive habits and self-sabotaging behaviours that have prevented successful weight loss in the past. Ailsa has spent years in clinic working with clients who have experienced yo-yo dieting and have discovered that long term weight loss is not just about eating less until you can stand it no longer.

 

Working with Ailsa you will be comprehensively supported, not only in improving your nutrition and lifestyle, but also your eating habits and your relationship with food. When you work on all these elements together, the results can be truly astonishing.

 

To enquire about working with Ailsa, please contact us.

Test Nikki is our Practice Manager, managing our team of practitioners and heading up the day-to-day running of the business. Nikki is involved in the strategic development of our practice, coming from a strong business background in town planning. A Florida girl, Nikki relocated to the UK in 2014 with her husband and two children.

NIKKI ANDRIANI

 

Nikki is our Practice Manager, managing our team of practitioners and heading up the day-to-day running of th clinic.

 

Nikki is involved in the strategic development of our practice, coming from a strong business background in town planning.

 

A Florida girl, Nikki relocated to the UK in 2014 with her husband and two children.

STÉPHANIE ACHAR

Stéphanie is a skilled nutritional therapist and functional medicine practitioner with additional training in eating disorders, disordered eating and obesity. She believes that working towards both physiological and mental health is key in achieving optimum wellbeing.

 

Stéphanie’s personal experience of emotional eating and the ongoing struggle to find the right support led her to combine the science of nutrition with behavioural coaching to motivate and empower her clients. She specialises in helping people who struggle with their weight and their relationship with food. She helps them develop a healthier and more peaceful relationship with food and their bodies.

 

To enquire about working with Stéphanie, please contact us.

INNA WEARN

Inna is passionate about supporting women on their journey to improved health and wellbeing. She believes that the solution to effective weight loss does not lie in ever more restrictive diets, but a more sophisticated approach that optimises health and vitality, as well as promoting effective weight loss.

 

Working with Inna you will benefit from her in-depth knowledge of female health and hormones. She will support you in developing a healthy diet, lifestyle and mindset that ensures you reach your ideal weight and maintain it in the years to come.

 

Inna is passionate about food with a wide repertoire of delicious healthy recipes and meal ideas to ensure your weight loss journey is as enjoyable as possible!

 

To enquire about working with Inna, please contact us.

ANIA MASON

 

Ania is a firm believer that improving your health and losing weight should be a positive, empowering journey, not one centred around deprivation.

 

After being diagnosed with two autoimmune conditions in her twenties, Ania spent several years educating herself on the power of food and nutrition. She put it all into practise and changed her diet and lifestyle, reversing her endometriosis and thyroid disease. After experiencing such a significant improvement in her health, Ania had a big desire to help others. She embarked on a four year journey to study nutrition, graduating from the Institute for Optimum Nutrition with distinction.

 

Ania specialises in autoimmunity and works with clients who have underlying health issues preventing successful weight loss. Her expertise enables her to successfully support our clients with conditions such as hypothyroidsm (underactive thyroid), PCOS and diabetes. 

 

To enquire about working with Ania, please contact us.