Back on track!

After my surgery on July 29th I haven’t had the inspiration to write about being healthy, hence the radio silence. Honestly, I didn’t feel that healthy at all. The pain actually wasn’t that bad and I was on my feet again quite quickly. But I wasn’t prepared for a diet of only liquid nutrition of 10 days. Ten loooooong days.

After my gastric banding in 2009 I could only eat liquid foods for a whole month, but that was different. I had been preparing for that for months and months and I was totally motivated to keep to all prescribed rules to lose the weight. When I was allowed to start eating normal foods again, I didn’t even like fatty foods for quite a while. Hallelujah! But my taste for that returned, unfortunately. Or fortunaly? Not sure… well; yes, fortunately. Because it is part of my healthy habits now to enjoy these foods as well once in a while and in moderation. And I deserve to enjoy them just as much as anyone. Ha!

Anyway, let’s return to the here and now. First I ate liquid foods for 10 days and during the weekend I celebrated the fact that I could eat as a normal person again. Yay, Chinese food (and board games) with the whole family at my parents house!

And today I decided that, even though I can’t go to the gym yet, I can step outside and take a long walk. So that’s what I did. Burned some calories and afterwards I prepared a nice and healthy evening meal for my boyfriend and myself.

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A salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, pasta, tuna, feta cheese, olives and oregano, flavoured with a dressing of red wine vinegar, olive oil, sweetener, pepper, salt and lemon juice.

And tomorrow, my three week holiday is over and I start working again. Time to get back to my healthy habits. Have a nice week everyone!

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Breakfast Benefits

In one of my earlier blogs I already mentioned I’m a huge fan of breakfast, but I want to devote a whole piece to it since it is my belief that one can never stress the importance of it enough! We all know how beneficial breakfast is to our everyday lives and our health but still millions and millions of people skip it. This piece covers (1) the reasons why people don’t eat breakfast and how to break the habit, (2) facts and figures on breakfast and (3) a summation of the benefits of breakfast as they have been proven by science and also how I experience them.

There are many reasons to skip breakfast that at first glance seem logical and/or understandable. People often complain they simply can’t get a bite down so early in the morning. Perhaps this is related to a second often used reason; they don’t have time. I’m probably bursting through an open door here, but by getting up a little earlier you can make the time ánd give yourself some time to wake up properly, making it easier to eat something before going to school or to work. Get up half an hour earlier, have something to drink, then take a shower, get dressed, or whatever your routine is, notice how you still have some time left and simply decide to make yourself a decent breakfast. A third reason for not eating breakfast is not feeling hungry. This could be a result of late night snacking or having large dinners. If you are truly devoted to breaking the habit and wanting to benefit from a good breakfast every day, try to eat a little less at dinner and during the evening and find yourself with a rumbling stomach in the morning craving for some food. One way to help yourself with this would be to go to sleep a little bit earlier too; this way you don’t have that much time to snack in the evening, and you leave yourself with more time in the morning to prepare breakfast. Two birds with one stone!
Another reason many people don’t eat breakfast is to manage their calorie intake. They think that, by simply skipping a meal, they can eat a little more during the day or skip those calories altogether. Breaking this habit may be as simple as realizing how incorrect this reasoning is and as a result, wanting to change it. For this I recommend to just carry on reading!

Did I miss any reasons? Let me know! 

Even though I’m writing mostly from my own experiences, I hate writing without attaining some facts and figures first and to double check if what I think I know about the subject is in fact correct. These days scientists research all subjects thoroughly, and fortunately breakfast is one of those subjects. I found a website that summarizes scientific research on breakfast from as early as 1996 until the present day, the most interesting and relevant outcomes being the following:

1. People who eat breakfast:

  • have improved memories, reaction times / alertness, concentration and better performances on tests;
  • experience reduced hyperactivity and improved psycho-social behaviours;
  • make better nutritional choices during the day in regards to their other meals and snacks;
  • have a lower body mass index than people who usually skip breakfast;
  • burn more calories throughout the day and have tighter blood sugar control. The bigger the breakfast, the higher your metabolism and reduces the amount of fat that is stored by your body during lunch and dinner!
  • have a higher intake of important vitamins and minerals.

2. People who skip breakfast:

  • smoke more, drink more alcohol and are less physically active;
  • are four times more likely than others to become obese and they are more likely to develop type II diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and high cholesterol;
  • are prone to impaired metabolic responses (unhealthy spikes in insulin and glucose levels) after lunch, which makes you crave sugary foods;
  • have higher risk of tooth decay.

3. Different types of breakfast

  • Advantages of high protein breakfasts:
    • Feeling full longer, especially when eating egg proteins versus wheat proteins. Add a bit of bacon and this effect is even higher!
    • Reductions in cravings for sweets and less likely to indulge in unhealthy snacking later in the day. This can reduce your calorie intake during a whole day with 100 – 400 calories!
    • Better regulation of dopamine, the chemical in the brain that regulates food motivation and reward.
    • In a particular study, people who had eggs for breakfast lost 65% more weight than participants who ate a bagel instead (with an equal number of calories). Plus they felt more energetic.
    • Specific antioxidants found in eggs protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet light and they reduce the risk of blindness.
  • Cereals
    • Eating low-sugar cereals makes you more inclined to put fruit on it and it makes you eat less as opposed to eating high-sugar cereals.
    • Breakfast cereals provide a surprisingly large amount of disease-fighting antioxidants
    • A high-fiber breakfast appears to help women burn more fat when exercising.
    • Particular cereals can help reduce acne breakouts and help make your skin beautiful
    • Including whole grains in your breakfast reduces the risk of heart disease.

An additional interesting fact about eggs: they have gotten healthier over the years. According to a report from 2011 the average egg contains 14% less cholesterol and 64% more vitamin D than an average egg tested in 2002.

To summarize the facts and figures above into the benefits of breakfast: breakfast improves your mental and physical health, energy levels and metabolism. It stimulates weight loss and supports you during your diet (which you should actually call a healthy lifestyle instead, diet is such an ugly word that suggests you are suffering all the time, which I, for instance, am not!).

With regards to the type of breakfast, as you can see they both have their advantages, so I’m guessing you should choose the type that suits you best. For me the breakfast that is rich in proteins (especially eggs) works best. Since I started my new lifestyle in March last year, I have been eating an egg almost every day. And look where it got me! Recently I started having even bigger breakfasts because I noticed my cravings during the day were coming faster and were getting worse. Having these bigger breakfasts has helped me get back on track.

For those who are interested, I will be posting some rich-in-protein breakfast recipes soon. They will all include eggs, since I never leave home without eating one. If you’re thinking “Hey! You should only be eating a maximum of three eggs a week!”, think again. Fortunately studies have refuted this. For more information, you can visit the Egg Nutrition Council website.