I’m finding that one of the most difficult meals to plan for and be conscious about, is breakfast. Since I became a holistic nutritionist- the most common question I get from people is: what should I eat for breakfast that’s healthy, energizing and filling? It makes sense though. We really are always on the run & majority of people around the world don’t wake up with the sunrise, meditate and put aside time for exercise and nourishment. In a wonderful world- they would. & I would too. I’m most definitely getting better at it.
It’s all about spending some time to figure out what is important to you and what you need in the morning to feel good and start your day on the right note. This can be different for different people. Some people really need their morning exercise in order to feel refreshed, ready to focus & take on the day. For me, my favorite way to wake up is to wake up early — at the moment I’m waking up at around 7am, I’d love to get into the routine of waking up earlier, but that will come in due time. I like to immediately go for a walk in nature with my dog, Ollie. That way, I get some exercise, move around & get some light meditation in.
Unfortunately, the average person’s morning/wake up routine looks a little bit like this (the reason I know this quite well is a) I used to do this b) I love asking people what their mornings look like. That and what they ate, for every meal are the things I’m most interested in).
- Upon waking, the alarm will be set to snooze (a very loud, angry alarm sound) a few times.
- Immediately get in the shower, this may also be preceded by turning on the coffee pot (or it’s already on timer to make a fresh pot upon waking)
- Generally the TV or radio is on while getting ready
- Phone calls & emails may or may not be coming through and being answered at this point
- Breakfast is either a quick granola bar or meal replacement bar OR a smoothie/juice
- The alternative is that breakfast & coffee is grabbed on the way to work– which will consist of a cup of coffee to go and either a breakfast sandwich or a baked good/pastry (croissant, muffin, strudel- really, you name it)!
- & we’re out the door! This routine generally takes from around 30 mins to an hour. This depends on a few things but the common denominator is female vs male (aka gender).
Does this morning routine look a little bit like yours? Resemble anything familiar?
The thing about this typical type of routine that has become the household routine due to: limited time, convenience, busy lives and external influences- is that it starts your day off in several states of stress. What do I mean by this? Due to the busy lives we run now a days- a lot of patterns of behavior and rituals we take part in are actually causing our bodies to be in a constant state of stress. For example- waking up to an alarm that sounds like a screw driver, firetruck siren or something of that manner- puts you in a state of stress. Whether or not we have become accustomed to the noise and are no longer being startled into life as easy as we used to- it is still putting your body in a state of stress. It’s just that our bodies are becoming accustomed to being in a constant state of stress. The pathways are over-exhausted.
What’s an alternative? Waking up to sunlight, slowly- is a stress-free way for your body to adjust and slowly arise from sleep. An example of this is the Philips Light therapy alarm.
The next step in this morning ritual is the incoming phone calls and emails that we are immediately presented with. I understand that some people are in situations that they can’t avoid these. In this case, I think it is important, for your health, to set boundaries for yourself. Set aside 30 minutes upon waking- where you do not have your phone on – and let clients/employees/customers/family members know through automated email or notifications that you are unavailable for the first hour of the morning. The other tip with phones is to have them on airplane mode while you are sleeping so that you are not being exposed to electromagnetic radiation and EMF’s (electromagnetic frequency) while you are sleeping. Although the radiation is minor, we are around our phones every second of every day and some of us (myself included in the past) sleep with our phones under our pillows or right beside where our heads lay (aka bedside table). So- a way to limit this exposure is to either turn your phone onto airplane mode or to place your phone away from your head. For instance, at the foot of your bed or in another room.
Another tip to limit the stressors in your morning ritual is to limit the amount of noise you are exposed to in the morning. Of course, if you have some really lovely, peaceful music (meditation music, what have you) on to wake you up or get you in the swing of things- then that’s wonderful. I’m talking about having the TV on with the news (stressss!) or just random thoughts/ramblings on the radio or TV. This just enforces that busy, monkey mind- that we are trying to get away from. If you can start your day off in peace and some silence- it will help to reduce your level of stress throughout the day. In turn, this will support your body effectively so that is more equipped to manage upcoming stress.
Last, but most certainly not least, Food! Nourishment! This is a tricky one- I understand that. How can you figure out a way to nourish yourself quickly and easily without a lot of work or mess? This does take some planning & thought before hand. One of the biggest thing about food- that I keep coming back to- is that the value system we have towards food is a bit backwards. If we cared about food and nourishment like we used to (back in the day) then this would be less of an issue. It seems that now a days, on the list of priorities in a busy day- food is close to the bottom. It’s a “if I have time” mindset, when it comes to eating.
So for instance, if you are in a rush for a big meeting in the morning- you are more focused on what you are going to say, how you are going to impress, what you are going to look like and perhaps where you are going to get your morning coffee. There is little to no thought on- what am I going to eat. In fact, I have found that in the past- with myself, I’ve preferred to not eat anything before a big meeting/presentation/test/what have you. I was way too focused on being nervous and the anxiety, to think about what I was going to eat and how I was going to stomach it.
When you break this down, it makes perfect sense. I was in a state of stress. I was worried about all of those variables I mentioned previously. I was worried about being judged. & therefore, I was stressed out. In physiology & anatomy (and simple biology & nutrition) we learn that when your body is in a state of stress- all the blood rushes to the areas of your body that will facilitate your body in dealing with this stress. All of the body parts that will help you in the fight or flight response. Thus, it goes to your extremities- your arms, legs, and lastly, your brain. By rushing to these areas, the blood vacates areas like your digestive system, urinary system & reproductive system. So, it makes sense that you wouldn’t be hungry when you are worrying about your meeting! If you did eat something while you’re experiencing those nerves & anxiety- it just kind of sits in your stomach- while your body figures out whether to run or fight!
What’s the problem with this scenario?
Have you found that a while after getting through your stressful situation (meeting/test/presentation) you are starving? You begin to crave something carby/starchy/sweet? This is because during that time when your body was working to get you out of the stressful situation- it basically forgot about your digestion, your blood sugar dropped (because it used the available glucose in your blood and glycogen stores), and you used up the available energy you had to deal with the stressful situation. If you can start to limit the amount of stress in your life (that you can control), then your body will be more able to adapt to external stressful situations. So what can you control? Thought, peace, food (sugar, allergens), drink (coffee, alcohol, stimulants), and sleep. Of course this won’t all be changed and adjusted at the same time and quickly. It’s a process. Take a couple baby steps. Start with your breakfast:)?
So what are some quick, easy & nutritious breakfast tips?
- Soak oatmeal (steel cut oats, buckwheat, rolled oats, quinoa) the night before- that way all you have to do is quickly cook it, assemble it with some almond milk or coconut milk, dried fruit, nuts, dried coconut &/or protein powder in the morning
- Have your veg & fruit chopped the night before– so you can quickly whiz up a delicious smoothie. Tip: add chia seeds, hemp seeds, protein powder (I recommend plant based). A great easy blend is: Cucumber, apple, kale / spinach, kiwi or banana & hemp seeds
- Make a health-i-fied version of the popular V8 juice– this will be more of a juice/ smoothie: blend up fresh tomato, spinach, herbs, kale, cucumber, zucchini, spring water & sea salt. You can add chilies, pepper and other herbs to it if you please!
- Do a colourful, light fruit & veg salad like my Cool Slaw recipe- add hemp seeds for a punch of protein!
- Some subs for your morning coffee, which are also helpful with stress management include: Licorice & peppermint tea, fennel, nettle & peppermint tea, rooibos tea, green tea, other lovely organic tisanes.
- Soak chia seeds the night before in either water & almond milk. Wake up, top with some extra almond milk/coconut milk and whatever fixings you have on hand (you can either pre-chop them them, place them in a to-go container and its literally a 2 minute grab and go breakfast! Here’s the link to my chia pudding recipe
If you have some time the night before, prep something before hand so you can grab it on your way out. Although, I would suggest that you try to not eat on the go. Instead, put aside 5-10 minutes to sit down and truly enjoy and savor what you’re eating. Concentrate on the food & enjoy it, in all of its wonder! If you do find that you may have some time the night before, or it’s the weekend and you feel like surprising your family/partner with a wonderful morning surprise, try out this amazing muffin recipe!
This recipe is from a wonderful, beautiful woman by the name of Vivian Thom, a friend and fellow-graduate of the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. She joined us one day at JIivala to share some of her favorite baked goods and gluten-free recipes. It was quite the day & we were all vibrating on a very high level of love (with a dash of sugar)! She adapted her recipe from Quinoa Revolution originally. These are great because they are gluten-free, organic & made with tons of love. There’s something so deliciously comforting about having sweet potato as the base of the muffin. They’re decadent, dense & mind-numbingly delicious. You can make them vegan as well if you’d like by subbing the eggs with another binder like soaked chia seeds. Check out a video on ChooseVeg on vegan replacements for egg! I’ve made a few changes- and you can too. It’s a pretty versatile recipe and very easy to make. Without further adieu,
Magical Morning Muffins
- 1 3/4 cup quinoa flour
- 1 tsp baking powder (aluminum free)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 1 1/2-2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 large organic free-range eggs
- * to make vegan, use 2 tablespoons soaked chia seeds OR 1 mashed banana OR 2 tablespoons apple sauce
- 2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes
- 1/2 cup grated carrot
- 1/2 cup dates, chopped and pitted
- *optional: handful chopped pecans/walnuts
- *optional: handful chopped raisins, dried cranberries or cherries
- Have your sweet potato/yam cooked ahead of time. Simply place in the oven with some coconut oil at 350 F for around 25 minutes. I like to chop it before-hand so it cooks a bit faster. Depending on how much time you have.
- Preheat the oven to 375-385 F. Lightly grease your muffin pan with coconut oil or line with parchment paper
- In a large bowl, whisk together the dry mixture: quinoa flour, baking soda & powder, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg & vanilla
- In a medium bowl, cream the coconut oil, coconut sugar & maple syrup
- Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time.
- Whisk in the sweet potato
- Add this to the dry mix and stir just until blended.
- Add your fixings: dates, nuts, dried fruit
- Scoop the batter into equal proportions into the muffin cups
- Pop in the oven for around 20-25 minutes- depending on how efficient your oven is. Keep an eye on them and pop a fork or tooth pick into the center to see if they’re baked through.
- Cool & remove from pan!
*These muffins will last you around 3 days