Kick-start your day

Most of us are familiar with the old saying: "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper". But how many of us do eat a healthy big breakfast fit for a king? Most of us have to get up so early for work that we either aren't hungry yet for breakfast, or simply just don't have enough time to eat in the early morning rush.

However, without any fuel, our energy levels drop so low by mid-morning that we end up raiding the canteen or vending machine for high-GI/high-fat snacks, which, in turn, make us feel more miserable as it just aggravates the problem. Eating a good, solid breakfast with a low glycaemic index is especially important for diabetics as it will ensure sustained energy levels and help you to stay away from those high-GI/high-fat snacks.

Remember, as the word "breakfast" implies, you are actually breaking a fast. It's been many hours since your evening meal and if you don't eat something to refuel, your blood sugar levels will remain low all morning or go very high after eating and/or drinking a high-GI/high-fat snack and/or drink. This may lead to tiredness, lethargy, lack of concentration, irritability, poor work performance and an increased tendency to make mistakes.

However, if your blood sugar levels are stable, you will feel better, and also experience fewer cravings for unhealthy foods.

Says dietician Liesbet Delport: "A well-balanced, lower-GI, lower-fat breakfast stabilises blood glucose levels, so that when it is time for lunch, one is only just hungry and has not had a blood glucose surge or slump during the morning.

"In other words, the body has been able to operate with optimum fuel levels all morning. A high-GI breakfast can result in shakiness, fatigue and irritability throughout the day, unless a substantial amount of exercise was done beforehand.

According to Delport, breakfast should contain lower-GI carbohydrates, such as a lower-GI muffin or cereal or porridge (like minimally processed oats, high-fibre bran cereals or whole wheat Pronutro or instant porridge containing some soya as well), some protein (like lower-fat cheese, milk and/or yoghurt or ham), and a little fat, preferably good fat like avocado, peanut butter or a few unsalted nuts. Fruit (preferably low-GI) can either be added to the breakfast or eaten as a mid-morning snack.

Good old-fashioned oatmeal porridge will provide you with an excellent slow-releasing carbohydrate, especially if you add raw oat bran to the cooked porridge. Apart from stabilising blood sugar levels, oats and oat bran also help to lower blood cholesterol and are useful sources of magnesium and zinc.

If you feel like oats with a twist, why not try Swiss muesli, a delicious combination of rolled oats, fruit and nuts. You can make your own - see the easy recipe from the Eating for Sustained Energy recipe book series by Liesbet Delport and Gabi Steenkamp.

Or you could opt for some bran muffins, which are so deliciously moist that you won’t even need margarine or butter with them. However, rather make them yourself (recipe below) as the bought ones are usually higher GI and much higher in fat.

Finally, if you thought you could never have eggs and bacon for breakfast again, here's a little surprise for you: try Marinda's French toast treat.

Says Delport: "Although eggs, bacon and cheese (all high-fat sources of protein) were used in this dish, each serving contains only one protein and half a fat. This goes to show that you can have eggs, bacon and cheese for breakfast, without the meal being too high in protein and fat, if you control the amounts used".

For more information on the glycaemic index, visit the website of the Glycaemic Index Foundation

View recipes:

- Swiss muesli
- Bran muffins
- Marinda's French toast treat

Marinda's French toast treat: nutritional information per serving

GI low (54)

Kilojoules 914

Carbohydrates 22g

GL 12

Protein 13g

Fat 9g

Fibre 3g



(Birgit Ottermann, Health24, Diabetes Newsletter, February 2010)

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