‘HEALTHY’ BREAKFAST FOODS YOU NEED TO AVOID
Written By The Good Housekeeping Web team
But surely fruit juice is good for you?
Breakfast, you’ve been told repeatedly, is the ‘most important meal of the day’. Taking stock of this advice, you dutifully pull yourself out of bed half an hour early to get your fill. And yet at 11am, you experience a spectacular energy crash that only a flat white (extra shot) and blueberry muffin can rescue you from. Sound familiar? Then it’s likely that you’re making the wrong breakfast choices, however virtuous they may seem. These ‘healthy’ options might just be the culprits…
1. Fruit juice
Whether it’s cold pressed, freshly squeezed or made from organic oranges picked under the light of the full moon, juice is still juice, and is a concentrated form of sugar. A typical glass of fruit juice contains the equivalent of six teaspoons of sugar – that’s your recommended amount for the entire day. By drinking juice you’re also losing all the healthy fibre from the fruit, which among other things helps to slow the rate at which you absorb this sugar. Our advice? Pass on the juice and have a piece of actual fruit instead.
When it comes to buying granola from the shop, don’t be fooled by healthy buzzwords and phrases like ‘no added sugar’ (something can have this on the label, but still be packed with sugar in the form of dried fruit), ‘natural’ (this is no indicator of health, as sugar can be described as natural) and ‘multigrain’ (this sounds healthy, but just means there is more than one type of grain in the product). As a simple guideline, if a granola contains more than 6g of sugar per portion, then avoid it.
3. Fruit smoothies
Before you put your NutriBullet back in its box, smoothies don’t have to be off the cards completely. But if your morning drink consists of just a blend of banana, berries and fruit juice, a filling and balanced brekkie it is not – and you’ll be reaching for a croissant by mid-morning. Instead, ensure your smoothie is protein-rich by adding some of the following to your blend: nuts, seeds, nut butter, natural yogurt, milk or unsweetened protein powder. Protein not only slows sugar absorption in the body and keeps energy levels steady, but is also extremely satiating.
4. Low-fat yogurt
This label almost always means that the fat has been reduced at the cost of adding more sugar or other sweeteners. And actually, fat helps to keep you feeling satiated, whereas sweetness drives hunger and increases sugar cravings. So always choose the full-fat version, and also be wary of fruit ‘flavoured’ yogurts, which may contain no real fruit, only chemicals designed to taste like fruit. Buy natural yogurt and add your own fresh fruit instead.
5. Breakfast bars
Just because a food manufacturer is telling you something is okay to eat for breakfast, doesn’t mean that it is. Many cereal bars boast lofty health claims, but when you look at the ingredients on the label, they often have nutritional profiles more similar to biscuits and chocolate bars. Pay particular attention to the sugar content, remembering that 4g of sugar is equivalent to a teaspoon. Cereal bars provide a convenient option, but if you’re in a rush you’d be much better off grabbing a handful of nuts and a piece of fresh fruit instead.
6. Instant porridge sachets
The oats in these instant packs have been finely milled so they can be cooked quickly. This gives them a higher glycemic index (GI) than regular wholegrain oats, which means they make blood sugar levels rise more quickly, and won’t keep you feeling full for as long. Additionally, the flavoured versions are often packed with sugar and other artificial flavourings. For a healthier, more filling option, buy a bag of wholegrain jumbo oats to make your porridge and add your own toppings in the form of fresh fruit, nuts and seeds.
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