The Nutritionist: Pick Me Up

Lisa Wulf Nutritionist

If you are reading this while sipping your morning latte and tucking into your cereal (checked the sugar content?) or blueberry muffin (low fat?), this week's column will make you think twice about your breakfast options.

I’m amazed by the number of City people I walk past in the morning who are holding a cup of take-away coffee in one hand, and a muffin, bagel or sandwich in the other one, jumping on board the blood-sugar roller coaster as if they were in Thorpe Park.
Let’s look at what this typical breakfast does to your body. The bagel, muffin or white bread sandwich (as well as a sugary cereal) certainly lack protein, and they almost certainly have a high Glycemic Index (GI). These foods are converted into glucose rapidly by the body and then absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, raising blood sugar levels too high, causing what’s known as a 'sugar spike.'

This in turn caused your body to 'overreact' and depress blood glucose levels below normal. If you top this up with caffeine, it may make you feel satisfied, but only for a short time. By 10 or 11am you are likely to experience a mid-morning energy slump looking for a quick 'pick me up', such as another cup of coffee, some biscuits or possibly another pastry. And off you go on the next free ride of the Thorpe 'Sugar' Park roller coaster.

The key to controlling these cravings and losing weight is to balance your blood sugar. Your blood sugar levels are at their lowest in the morning, and you have to 'break' the fast of the night, so skipping breakfast is not an option either. Eating the right foods at breakfast is the key to increased energy, and eating a protein-rich breakfast will supply you with consistent fuel to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

A great healthy breakfast is something like porridge or sugar-free wholegrain muesli with some fruits and nuts or natural yoghurt, a great combination of low-GI carbohydrates, fibre and protein. And oats make you happy! They are high in the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor to the neurotransmitter Serotonin, a chemical that helps maintain a 'happy feeling', and seems to help keep our moods under control by helping with sleep, calming anxiety and relieving depression.

And couldn't we all benefit from a little more of that?