Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I look at what you should eat for breakfast to help you through your menopausal day and why this is important.
Most of us are really busy and sometimes, finding time for breakfast is way down our list of priorities. It can be a rushed meal and you can end up picking things on the go and making poor food choices. All of this can affect the way you feel for the rest of the day. So, it's really important that you pick the right foods for breakfast.
So, what I'm going to do today is explain why you shouldn't skip breakfast, how certain foods can help you, and also, give you a few breakfast suggestions to try.
6 reasons why you shouldn’t skip breakfast during menopause
Making just a little bit of extra time for breakfast can make a huge difference. Let's take a look at some of the ways a good breakfast can help you during menopause:
1. It breaks the fast and stabilises blood sugars
There's a clue in the word breakfast. You're breaking your fast. You've had nothing to eat all night, so your blood sugars can be very low in the morning. And it's known that low blood sugars in menopause can trigger a whole raft of symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, foggy brain, even palpitations.
So, it's really important to get a good breakfast in to keep our blood sugars as stable as possible for as long as possible. Also, if we don't eat a lot for breakfast, our body has got no energy and it will need to slow down our metabolism to cope with that, so sometimes, skipping breakfast will contribute to weight gain.
2. It helps energise your body for the day ahead
It's a bit like going on a car journey. If you were going on a long car journey, you wouldn't think of leaving home without filling up the tank, without checking the oil, and without checking the water.
So, it's the same for you and your body. It's going through a long journey every single day during menopause. So, keeping our bodies well-fuelled and oiled, and topped up with water can make a lot of difference.
3. You’re less likely to crave sugar and overeat
If your blood sugars are low, your body gets into panic mode and you will crave something that's going to raise your blood sugar levels really quickly. And this always tends to be sweet foods or fatty foods.
So, if you don't eat anything for breakfast or you eat the wrong things for breakfast, you are going to be more likely to snack, get cravings, and make less healthy choices in what you're eating for the rest of the day.
4. Eating breakfast has been associated with a lower incidence of heart disease
Studies have found that eating a good, healthy breakfast is associated with lower incidences of heart disease. (1) This is important because your likelihood of getting heart disease seems to increase post-menopause, so anything that we can do to protect our heart is a really good idea.
5. It can help improve brain function, including concentration
If you eat well for breakfast, that will feed your brain. It's going to help to provide you with good brain function during the day, including helping to improve concentration and productivity, which is especially important if you are struggling with brain fog during menopause.
6. It can also help you avoid dehydration
Breakfast is also the perfect time to not only refuel but also rehydrate.
You're more likely to drink when you eat. Although it's really important not to drink too much when you eat because you end up diluting your digestive juices. But if you have the mindset to eat for breakfast, then you're more than likely to have something to drink.
So, I recommend about 30 minutes before you sit down to have your breakfast, have a good drink of plain water. I usually do this when I first wake up. That helps you start the day hydrated. And, again, that can help with all sorts of menopause symptoms.
Foods to eat for breakfast
When choosing a healthy breakfast, try to include some protein, fibre, and a little bit of fat. Protein is going to jumpstart your metabolism, your fibre is going to keep you fuller for longer so you're going to be less likely to feel hungry and snack before your next meal, and the fat itself is going to stabilie your blood sugar levels.
Here are a few things I recommend for breakfast:
Make sure that it's whole oats or porridge oats. Avoid quick oats where you just add boiling water to the pots. These shoot your blood sugars up, and you'll end up crashing very quickly. And a lot of them are full of sugar, which again adds to your blood sugar spike.
So, what to do is make proper porridge and you can then add in some berries, nuts, and seeds, or a few pieces of dried fruit. I often add a little teaspoon of cocoa powder if I'm making porridge because I find that this helps to sustain me that little bit longer during the day.
Make sure it's the full-fat yoghurt to give you the healthy fat you need to keep your blood sugar stable. Again, you can add berries or seeds to your yoghurt.
Very often, when I have yoghurt for breakfast, I grind up some sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds. I'll also add a little bit of cocoa powder in there as well so I can have a nice, chocolatey yoghurt for breakfast. I also tend to add in some blueberries, or raspberries, or some strawberries.
Be really careful of shop-bought granola because it's extremely high in sugar and a lot of them have an awful lot of fat in them as well. Our nutritionist, Emma, has a super recipe for homemade apricot granola and that is a really good way, again, to start off the day.
You can either add yoghurt to it or a little bit of milk. Using almond milk, oat milk, or coconut milk will give it a little extra nutritional boost.
This tends to be my staple breakfast. I love eggs first thing. I'll very often have an omelette. I'll maybe sauté some mushrooms, or asparagus, or some red onions, add that to my omelette, and then top it with things like tomatoes or a little bit of crumble of feta cheese. And it's great too if you have a little bit of veg left over from the night before, you can add that into your omelette.
I find having a good omelette for breakfast will keep me going right up until lunchtime. And it's really helpful, especially if I have a busy day and I can't stop for snacks. I know that I'm not going to get overly hungry.
You can also look at protein powders. For those of you who are really rushed during the day or you're not particularly keen on having too much to eat first thing, but you realise that you need something, then you can get really good plant-based protein powders and you can have a shake first thing before you do anything else. And very often, that will keep you going too.
You can also add these to smoothies, for an extra nutritional boost. Check out some of our delicious smoothie recipes on our Food Hub for some inspiration.
Foods to avoid at breakfast
Here are a few foods to be wary of at breakfast and to limit as much as possible:
Boxed and packaged cereals
These are very often full of sugar, which gets broken down really quickly and will give you a huge blood sugar hit, but then about an hour or two later, you will crash and you will be really, really hungry. These types of cereals often have no nutritional value at all so they really should be avoided.
If you like toast for breakfast then go for wholemeal bread, or rye bread, or try some fermented bread. These can all give you quite a good nutritional lift, unlike white bread.
Other 'breakfast' foods packed with sugar
Avoid things like pastries, croissants, muffins, sweet yogurts because, again, they're absolutely full of sugar and there's very little else in there. And they're not going to give you much of a nutritional boost. Also be careful with shop-bought smoothies because, again, they tend to be full of sugar and they're not really going to help.
Don't only rely on a cup of coffee to fuel your morning. Coffee first thing in the morning will shoot your blood sugars all over the place. A quick cup of coffee first thing before eating can trigger things like hot flushes, palpitations, headaches, and also muscle aches, and it can give you brain fog, so save your coffee for mid-morning rather than first thing in the morning.
So, I hope you found this one helpful. For me, breakfast is the most important meal in the day because I struggle throughout the day if I don't eat properly first thing. If any of you have any more tips, what's your favourite breakfast, what do you find really helps to keep you going during the day, I would love to hear about it.
Key things to take away from this blog:
- It's important not to skip breakfast during menopause. It breaks your fast, balances your blood sugars, helps energise you until lunch, makes you less likely to crave sugary or fatty foods and breakfast is also known to be good for your heart health.
- Eating the right foods is key! Things like oatmeal, full-fat Greek yoghurt, homemade granola and eggs are all good options that help keep your blood sugars stable and release energy slowly to help avoid slumps.
- Lots of things that are considered breakfast foods such as packaged cereal and pastries are packed with sugar, so they spike your blood sugar levels and provide a hit of energy, but your blood sugars then quickly crash causing an energy slump, so be careful of these.
Until next week, take care.