Last year I wrote a series of blog posts that were posted on the CrossFit SteadFast and I am going to start transferring all that info across here to my website (I didn't originally publish them as a blog, just sent word documents due to working on a yacht at the time with not-perfect internet).
Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, it was pretty typical to have something quick for breakfast during the week, such as the homemade bran muffins my Mom would batch bake every couple weeks (I think the 1970’s was when bran became a ‘thing’), half a grapefruit and maybe some yogurt, certainly not low fat. Or toast with butter, peanut butter and honey, my favorite. The choices for cereal were a hell of a lot less than what you see now. Weekend breakfasts were always bacon and eggs or omelet, or thin crepe-like pancakes or my Mom’s version of French toast…which actually has both hot chili flakes and green onions, an interesting counterpoint to the maple syrup- and to this day, given a choice, the flavor profile I prefer!
Today, the breakfast choices are staggering, and I am not really convinced that what we countenance as convenient breakfast fare is all that good for us, and can set us up daily for some inconvenient blood sugar roller coaster action. In my Nutrition 102 Seminar, we talked about blood sugar regulation and the importance this plays on your mood, energy, ability to work, put up with other people’s BS, stress, cortisol and body composition.
To touch on that, let’s examine the typical western weekday breakfast. Items on the menu could be: cereal (sugars and starches), fruit (fruit sugar), low fat milk (sugar), pastries (sugar), low fat yogurt (sugars and starches) or worse, FRUIT yogurt (more sugar), fruit juice (processed sugar), home made juice (fructose without the fiber), coffee with sweetener (sugar), toast (sugar), pop tarts (ugh). So you wake up, skull your first coffee and eat one or a combo of the above items. Your fasted body senses all this sugar, either processed or to be broken down from simple starches into glucose and fructose molecules, realizes there is soon to be an issue, so tells your pancreas to get to work. Your blood sugar initially spikes, and then as insulin floods your system….boom…that downward spiral occurs. But wait, it’s now 9:30-10am, COFFEE BREAK. Good thing those cookies/doughnuts/brownies/granola bars are right next to the coffee machine! So you go for it because frankly, you are hangry, cranky and have no patience for whatever is going on. The same process re-occurs…the blood sugar spike and resulting crash. We have a situation of extremes, which affects your chemical signaling (hormones) and has set you up pretty horribly for the day. You are hungry often and nasty when the beast doesn’t get fed on time!!!
So what can you do to jump off this carousel?
How about a good dose of proteins and fats to start your day? Fuel yourself with the type of energy that provides a longer slower “burn”, that your body will use for hours on end, that won’t spike your blood sugar and will not cause you to become a total asshat every 2-3 hours. By fueling with some good proteins, fats and carbohydrates in the form of vegetables (don’t be afraid of carbohydrates in the form nature intended), your blood sugar profile will look more like a sine wave, with no drastic peaks and valleys, resulting in a much more normal version of you!
BUT Dawn, That’s TOO MUCH WORK!
Um, no, it’s actually not, or at least, it doesn’t have to be. Breakfast doesn’t have to be fancy, you are just trying to break your overnight fast. If the cereals and toasts and all the usual stuff wasn’t hyper-palatable and chock full of sugars and all kinds of nasty crap to MAKE you crave it, it would be rather similar to cardboard, and you wouldn’t be able to choke it down.
So enter…Eggs. If you are not a lover of eggs, then I apologize now and you may as well log off. I will do another post at a later date with some non-egg options, which will also be great and easy to execute. However, today it is all about eggs! I love eggs, so this has never been an issue for me, although I do admit that I like to change it up every now and again for further variety. On a daily basis, I can say that there is no way that I eat the same thing for breakfast ever, because my breakfast is usually always based around what I am trying to clean out of the fridge. Totally a win-win situation.
Basic lazy-girl breakfast that takes less than 5 mintues:
1. Heat up non-stick skillet on stovetop on med-high heat. When hot, throw in a nice big pat of butter.
2. While skillet is warming, coarsely chop up some leftover veggies, undressed salad mix, meat of any kind and toss in pan with butter and stir around.
3. While whatever meat/veg option you chose is heating up, crack 3 eggs in a bowl, whisk, add salt and pepper and pour into the pan on top of the other items. Either scramble, to make scrambled eggs, or allow the bottom to cook, then fit a lid over the skillet to force steam the entire pan to make cooking go faster, this will result in an omelet.
4. Plate and eat. Put a scoop of fermented veggies on there, your gut will love you for it.
I did just say leftover salad…So while it would maybe seem more normal for you to chop up leftover broccoli, or beans, zucchini, sweet potato or any other manner of cooked vegetable, actually saving any leftover undressed salad makes an excellent addition to a breakfast omelet. My salads generally have a lot more than just lettuce, and all those other things work quite well cooked, and the lettuce just sort of wilts and plays like spinach.
Another good option: Put leftover tomato based pasta sauce (with or without meat in it), into a pot, start heating that up, then when bubbling, make a well and crack a couple eggs in there, put the lid on for about 4 minutes to cook the eggs. You can do that with chili, stew, ragout…If you want a fresh crunch, chop some parsley, cilantro, basil (whatever you have) and some green onions and garnish with that!
Meat + Eggs = Energy for hours….
Finally, as it seems perfectly normal to eat steak and eggs or bacon and sausage and eggs, you could also just chop up and heat up whatever kind of meat or vegetables you have on hand as a leftover, fry a couple eggs, and that’s a good start. I like to slice an avocado with that, or some tomatoes.
I have no problems just reheating whatever meat or fish we have and having that with some leftover veggies too. I just know that since I am in a bit of a rush and that I want to be able to have a decent start to the day, my choices have become creative usage of leftovers and whatever I have in the fridge. Which moves the leftover food through the fridge AND also ensures that I am not going to lose my marbles in a couple hours…
Yours in Health ~ Dawn