|Doctor’s Talk: Healthier Breakfast for Healthier Living
|By : Theeratorn Siriwat | Posted : April 30, 2019
|By Prof. Dr. Visith Chavasit, Professor at the Institute of Nutrition, Mahidol University
Breakfast is considered an important meal because it breaks the overnight fasting period, replenishes your supply of glucose and provides other essential nutrients to keep your energy levels up throughout the day.
Despite the hustle of today’s lifestyle, people are getting more awareness of the importance of breakfast. Regarding Herbalife Nutrition APAC Survey with 5,504 respondents in 11 APAC countries including Thailand in March 2018, more than half of Thai respondents (64%) replied they had breakfast every day.
However, breakfast is not only about having energy to cover activities people do daily, but also about the proper intake of nutrients that will keep the whole body functional effectively. Consequently, it is good to look deeper if people really realize how to make ‘healthy breakfast.’
Health benefit of breakfast
During the night time, our body’s metabolism still works although we are sleeping. Therefore, after the long period of fasting during sleep, body needs enough energy to help different functions to work properly throughout the day. If we do not feed our body, some functions may not work effectively and may adversely affect our daily routine or cause some health problems.
Key findings in Thai people’s breakfast meals
In the change of eating behavior influenced by western diet that mostly includes high energy food, more Thai people tend to have unbalanced diet. The most common unbalanced diet found among Thai people can be divided into two major cases – imbalance in energy intake and expenditure and imbalance in nutrient profiles.
The excess of energy intake and unbalanced macronutrients have led to the increasing prevalence of Non-Communicable diseases or NCDs such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer, among Thai people nowadays. Consequently, it is necessary to raise awareness about balance diet for healthy lifestyle, to promote health literacy among the public at large. And, it is good to start with breakfast, the most important meal of the day.
What makes ‘Healthy Breakfast’? – Balance is key.
FAO/WHO recommends that average energy intake per day should be 2000 calories for general adults. Based on this, the ideally healthy breakfast should be approximately 500 calories up to 700 calories. Main energy should come from adequate amount of carbohydrate and fat since carbohydrate and fat offer pure chemical compounds that our body can consume immediately. In addition, protein should always be included in your breakfast, because it also helps keep us full and reduces the chance to take sweets or snacks which will increase the number of calories we consume later in the day.
Healthy breakfast should consist of carbohydrate, protein, and fat in a proper ratio as recommended by WHO accordingly (Based on the 2000-calorie daily energy intake)
• Carbohydrate: 45%-60% or equivalent to 200-300 g/day
• Protein: 15%-30% or equivalent to 75-150 g/day
• Fat: 15%-30% or equivalent to 30-65 g/day
Fat can also be divided into saturated fat and unsaturated fat. It is recommended not to take over 10% energy intake from saturated fat, accounting for approximately 22 g per day. Regarding trans fats that increase the bad (LDL) cholesterol and decrease the good (HDL) cholesterol, it is recommended not to take over 1% of total energy.
Apart from these main sources of nutrients, it is also highly recommended that we include vegetables and fruits in our breakfast (and other meals also). Vegetables and fruits are rich in fiber, minerals and vitamins as well as antioxidants that maintain our proper body functions, especially in digestive and excretory systems as well as keep balance of free radicals in the body. It is recommended to include at least 400-500 g of vegetables and fruits in your daily diet.
Portion is also important for having a healthy breakfast. An ideal portion is based on the Plate Method that is served to help people make the best eating choices.
• Greens and fruits are filled in a half of the plate.
• Protein and a small amount of fat is in ¼ of the plate.
• Carb should be filled in ¼ of the plate.
Easy steps for all to make healthier breakfast
A little change of lifestyle and dietary practice can help you choose healthier choices for breakfast no matter how busy your lifestyle is.
• Spare time for preparing healthy breakfast: By doing this, you can rest assured that you have a healthy breakfast that will give you enough energy and nutrients to freshly and efficiently start the day.
• Know what you eat: Look into your meal and find what ingredients are. For example, in a sandwich, bread is carb; ham is protein; and mayonnaise is fat. If you have these three main sources of energy, your breakfast is pretty good.
• Always include vegetables and fruits in your breakfast: No matter what you eat, always add greens and fruits in your meal to make sure you will receive adequate vitamins, minerals and fiber as well as antioxidants to help body function better.
• Finish your breakfast with a protein-rich drinks: Milk is the great source of high-quality protein and calcium. Protein shake made with protein powder, low-fat milk or soy milk can ensure adequate good quality protein.
• Look for ‘Healthier Choice’ Logo: If you are so busy and it is hard or impossible for you to follow all tips above, find food or products with ‘Healthier Choice’ logo. The logo is endorsed by The Nutrition Promotion Foundation Under the Patronage of HRH Princess Mahachakri Sirindhorn and accepted by Thai Food & Drug Administration, indicating that ready-to-eat food or products are healthier options with less sugar, less sodium, less saturated and trans fats. You can be assured that products with the logo are better than those with excessive ingredients that can be harmful to your health.
In conclusion, please remind yourselves that balance is key. And, if you can balance your meal, you can also balance your lifestyle and make it healthier and happier as you like.
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