Social changes and new lifestyles, and especially a lack of time, has gradually given rise to the trend of eating light breakfasts which are nutritionally incomplete and have little variety.
The situation worsens in view of the growing trend to eat lighter dinners or even skip them altogether, leading to an imbalance in meal distribution throughout the day. This can have negative effects on nutrition and, therefore, potentially impact our health.
Eating a healthy breakfast provides us with energy and essential nutrients, balances our diet, helps us maintain a healthy weight and improves our physical and intellectual performance all day long.
Breakfast should provide 20 to 25% of our daily energy needs (e.g. 400 to 500 calories for a 2,000 calorie/day diet). A complete breakfast must include at least four different food groups:
-Grains and grain-products: bread, breakfast cereals, cookies, pastries…
-Dairy products: milk, yogurt, cheese…
-Natural fruits and juices: oranges, bananas, strawberry juice…
-Others: eggs, nuts, olive oil, butter…
Moreover, selecting one or more foods from these groups provides for a wide variety of breakfast combinations. For example:
-Coffee with milk and sugar or hot chocolate, cookies, and fresh orange juice.
-Bread with sliced cheese and turkey, with kiwi.
-Milk, apple, wheat toast with fresh tomato and olive oil.
-Yogurt with breakfast cereal, strawberries and nuts.
It’s important for serving sized to be adapted accordingly for age, gender and activity level. Of course, it’s possible to eat a greater variety of foods, but it’s important to consume them in small portions so as not to increase our breakfast calories.
It’s also very important to vary what we have for breakfast and combine different foods from each group. If we don’t repeat the same thing for lunch and dinner, why do it with breakfast?
Set aside enough time (10 or 20 minutes) and eat sitting down, and eat with others when you can, just like for other meals.
Children and young people often skip the meal entirely or don’t eat a healthy breakfast. Breakfast is very important for this group as they are at a stage in their lives when healthy eating is vital for growth and development.
Moreover, food habits—correct or otherwise—form during this period and are maintained throughout our lifetimes. Accordingly, it’s very important to teach young people the importance of breakfast and to ensure that they eat a healthy meal every day so that they continue that routine throughout adulthood.