A few years ago my breakfasts were very brown in colour, mostly consisting of toast with marmite or a wheat-based cereal with milk, sugar and a cup of tea.
This might sound like a normal breakfast for many people, but knowing what I know now about nutrition, I have no idea how my body coped through breastfeeding my first child on this morning staple.
Maybe the spots and mouth ulcers I developed during this time were a clue I wasn’t getting the nutrients I needed.
Starting the day with my drab and carb-tastic breakfast did fill me up, but not for long.
Processed carbohydrates in the form of bread and cereals are quickly broken down by the body into sugar.
A sugar rush is followed by a crash, leaving you running on empty and starving way before lunch. Not only that, but most supermarket-bread and cereals are so processed there will be very little in the way of vitamins and minerals (the raw materials your body needs to function effectively) left in them.
With high levels of sugar and salt added to create some flavour and various other questionable ingredients to keep these foods ‘fresher for longer’, what you are actually consuming is a delightful medley of non-food – as your first meal of the day.
If you are looking to optimizing your health, my advice is to ditch the brown breakfasts and inject some colour. Government research shows that increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables reduces your risk of chronic disease.
As a nutritional therapist, I advise my clients to “eat the rainbow” every day. The reason why brightly coloured plant foods are so good for you is because, in addition to vitamins and minerals, they contain compounds called phytonutrients.
These give the plants their bright colour, while providing them with a protection system from environmental dangers such as UV rays and insect attack. When we consume these plants, the phytonutrients provide us with protection too.
They are the antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, immune boosting compounds that protect us from chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Interestingly, the harder the plant has had to work to grow, the more phytonutrients it contains. So plants that have been grown using pesticides to protect them from insects will have less phytonutrients than a hardy organic plant.
As my knowledge of nutrition has grown, so my breakfasts have brightened up considerably. These days, my vegetable consumption is no longer limited to lunch and dinner as I aim to “eat the rainbow” at breakfast, too.
Eating a more balanced meal containing protein and fat as well as carbohydrates, easily keeps me going until lunch time. This is because it balances blood sugar, which is key to supporting the body through stress and weight loss as well as protecting us from chronic disease.
Eggs are a great way to start the day and I usually have one every morning. But it’s avocados that I really love, being so versatile they can be eaten savoury or sweet. They are ridiculously anti-inflammatory (great for arthritis), high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (same fat found in olives), and they help balance blood sugar, too.
Catherine Arnold is a registered Nutritional Therapist who lives in Nunhead. She supports people who are suffering with a variety of ailments such as infertility, IBS, digestive problems and cancer.
She trained at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London after discovering the power of nutrition when her partner successfully fought leukaemia aged 34.
Catherine draws on her experience to support and promote wellness in others. She writes her own recipes and is a passionate foodie.
For more information about Catherine see www.catherinearnoldnutrition.com and email catherinearnoldnutrition@gmail. com