A healthy, satisfying breakfast can make a big difference. But some traditional breakfast foods might not be as healthy as they seem. We've come up with some simple swaps you can make to start your day the right way.
Although the packaging may make some cereals - like granola and cereal clusters - appear healthy, they are often full of sugar and fat. Instead, why not switch to porridge? Porridge oats or the instant variety are both fine - just avoid those with added sugar, honey, golden syrup or cocoa powder. Wheat biscuits, shredded wheat or muesli (with no added sugar) are also great alternatives. For sweetness, add chopped fruit.
Yogurt can be a tasty alternative to cereal, but many low-fat yogurts are high in sugar. So why not try making your own flavoured yogurt? Buy low-fat plain, Greek natural yogurt, or fromage frais. You can add fresh fruit and a few nuts, or seeds for some extra flavour.
Quick breakfast tips:
- Switch from white toast to wholegrain versions like seeded batch bread, multi-seed, granary, soya and linseed. These are better for your diabetes and digestive health. They're more filling, too.
- If you’re making rotis and chapattis, use wholewheat flour.
- Instead of jam, try pure fruit spread or mashed banana. Other healthy choices are low-fat cheese, cottage cheese with a couple of fresh chopped dates, or almond butter and chopped banana.
- Try to keep croissants, pastries and muffins, as an ocassional treat. Even skinny muffins are high in sugar and fat.
- Use as little oil as possible when cooking. Cook with unsaturated vegetable oils, such as sunflower, olive or rapeseed, instead of butter or ghee.
- Add extra fruit and veg to bump up your fibre intake wherever you can. Add half a banana to your cereal,or grilled tomatoes to a fried breakfast.
- When you have a bit of time to spare, try making this breakfast crostini. Everyone can tuck in!
- Choose roasted mudhi or chuda (puffed rice) with vegetables, instead of chudha upma with oil.
- Try dry roasted methi paratha instead of aloo paratha.
- Try rice, besan or oat cheela with dry fried vegetables.
If you prefer a savoury breakfast, grilling instead of frying bacon and sausages cuts down on calories and fat. Try and avoid red meat and instead use oily fish such as heart-protecting salmon or kippers. They're delicious served with scrambled egg, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and wholegrain toast.
You could also try topping wholegrain toast with scrambled egg or egg bhurji, avocado, cottage cheese with edamame beans and tomatoes, or grilled tomatoes and mushrooms.
A simple way to cut down on breakfast calories is to switch from whole (blue top) milk, to semi-skimmed (green) or skimmed (red or orange top) milk. Switching from blue to red top milk will save you 164 calories and 19.8g fat per pint – that's the equivalent of four chocolate digestive biscuits! Do remember though that children between the ages of 2-5 should not be given skimmed milk.
Shop bought pure fruit juice often has all the fibre removed, instead try blending your favourite fruits together yourself. You can add a few veg, such as cucumber or carrots to help reach your five-a-day target too.
If you have coffee in the morning, switch the medium latte for a flat white or cappuccino made with skimmed milk to save at least 100 calories. You could also try plain lassi instead of sweetened, or making chaas (buttermilk) with semi-skimmed milk instead of whole.
Breakfast on the go
If you read our rundown of breakfast cereal bars and biscuits, you'll see cereal bars aren't always as healthy as they appear. For a better breakfast snack on the go, grab some fresh fruit and a handful of nuts instead. Combine it with a glass of semi or skimmed milk to keep hydrated and get essential calcium for your bones and teeth.
Many ‘breakfast drinks’, are also less healthy than their branding may suggest. Read the label carefully and you'll see many contain a lot of 'free (added) sugar'. We tested a 330ml serving of one breakfast drink and found it contained contained 32g of sugar - that's more than the recommended daily amount of free sugars for adults and children.
If you're ever rushed in the morning, try buying a few breakfast-on-the-go cereal pots for emergencies. You could also prepare a plastic breakfast pot the night before.
We looked at the nutritional information on over 30 popular children’s breakfast cereals. We found that the majority would be labelled red (high) for sugar. That's equal to five cubes of sugar per 100g, or two cubes of free (added) sugar per 30g serving. That's nearly half a 4-6 year old's recomended daily intake of free sugar, and a third of a 7-10 year old's. One cereal was so high in sugar that a 40g serving went over all children’s recommended sugar intake for a whole day, containing a staggering 38.8g. That's 10 cubes of sugar!
If pester power is a problem, put some of the healthier cereals listed above in a bowl with your children's favourite characters on them, or serve buffet style so they can choose their own breakfast – it's all about making breakfast fun, without making it unhealthy.