It saddens me that social norms seem to constrain what many people view as acceptable to eat for breakfast. In western society “normal” everyday breakfast food is typically seen to be things such as packaged cereal, toast, porridge, snack bars, muffins, pastries, scones, fruit, yoghurt, and eggs.
But really, what is ‘normal’? Who is ‘normal’? Where does ‘normal’ come from?
Our sense of ‘normal food’ comes from what we have been exposed to through our upbringing (family and friends), cultural context, life experiences, and the preferences we have formed over time. All of these aspects are significantly shaped and reinforced by the food industry of the country we live in.
Yep – there is no biological need to eat only eat cereal and toast for breakfast 🙂 🙂
However, the responses I often get from people when they learn what I eat for breakfast would suggest otherwise. My breakfast choices evoke a mixture of surprise, curiosity, disgust, disapproval, confusion, and then questions…
- How do you have time to make that?
- How can you eat all that?
- I could not stomach that in the morning…
- That’s just gross…
- You eat dinner for breakfast? (implying that there is a natural time to eat certain foods…)
- Is this your main meal? (implying that eating this kind of breakfast would therefore mean I would eat a ‘lighter’ lunch and dinner, which isn’t the case for me).
So what do I eat for breakfast, and how did I come to eat this way?
For the most part I think about breakfast in the same way I would any other meal. I start by ensuring I have a good serving of quality protein (around 1-2 palm sizes or 25g – 40 grams of protein) along with a variety of non-starchy vegetables.
I generally eat protein sources with naturally-occurring fat (salmon, eggs, lamb, whole chicken etc). However, if I choose a leaner source of protein (pea protein, or lean chicken/beef/pork) then I will look to add some additional healthy fats from things such as avocado, cacao nibs, chia seeds, olive or avocado oil, butter or nut butter. I then include some kind of filling and delicious carbohydrates source such as kumura, oats, good quality bread, basmati white rice, beans or fruit.
Here are some things I like for breakfast (not an exhaustive list):
- Any left over dinner food (this usually consists of meat and vegetables in various forms e.g. stir-fry, stews, salad, steak & veges).
- A sandwich made from a mini wholemeal pita bread + loads of salad/veges + protein (e.g. baked salmon, pulled pork, lamb / beef / pork steak, chicken thigh or tuna) or an ‘open-face’ sandwich on a good quality bread. Yep I eat bread 🙂
- Scrambled eggs + veges + tuna (I might add kumura / dried oats / rice / toast)
- Cooked oatmeal porridge + chia seeds + cocao nibs + cinnamon + cardamom + pea protein powder + frozen berries
- Breakfast cake or pancakes (berries, eggs, oats, pea protein powder, spices and water, mixed together and cooked as a cake in the microwave or turned into pancakes).
- Bone broth + meat/veges
I will include / add sides such as frozen berries, apples, in-season fruit, natural liver pate, parmesan cheese, pickles, natural tomato sauce (no added sugar), chilli sauce, sauerkraut, condiments, spices, mustard or dry fava beans.
Although I say ‘breakfast’, this is normally the second time I have eaten within a day but my first main meal. I often eat a smaller ’snack’ around 4.45am (pre-workout) and then eat a proper breakfast post-workout, sometime between 7-8 am.
Fallacy of ‘lighter’ food.
I often hear people say that they prefer a ‘lighter’ breakfast. The implication here is that they don’t like to have a ‘big’ or ‘heavy’ breakfast and would rather eat more later on. The problem here is that people are generally confusing food volume with energy density i.e. they believe that because the food appears ‘lighter’ (less filling and less volume) it is lighter in calories. Yet many options (toasted muesli / muesli / processed cereals / scones / pastries) will pack a super high calorie punch into a small portion size, often containing a high amount of both processed fats and sugars (making them highly palatable).
Conversely, people may view a meal that is ‘heavier’ and contains a higher volume of food as being higher in calories. However, if this is largely based on protein sources and vegetables it will likely be lower in calories, yet keep you fuller for longer, whilst also providing far greater micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
How I came to eat like this?
I have not always eaten this way for breakfast. However, I have significantly expanded my ‘normal’ over the years through a mix of exposure, learning, and experimentation.
I love to explore new places and have been fortunate enough to visit many different countries. One of my favourite things about travel is seeing, tasting, and experiencing the diverse array of foods that people around the world eat for breakfast (I’ll try anything!).
In more recent times, social media (especially Instagram) has provided a good platform for sparking new breakfast ideas and inspiration. Yep, I am that person who wants to see what you ate for breakfast! 🙂
Learning & Curiosity
I love learning about how different cultures have eaten over time as well as present day nutritional trends in different populations or interest groups.
From here, I have formed a deep appreciation for eating nutritionally dense, diverse and minimally processed foods throughout the day. I want to optimise that macro and micronutrient content of the food I eat (90-95% of the time) and it just makes sense to start with an awesome breakfast!
I love to cook and eat! Ok, I’m no gourmet chef or dinner party host. I’m terrible at following a recipe or instructions (hence I rarely bake) but I do love to explore new ingredients, flavours, and food combinations. It’s important to me that food tastes great and is satisfying. Life is way too short to eat boring food and feel deprived!
I also tune in to how different food makes me feel in terms of energy, digestive comfort, and mood, and how I feel/perceive this is supporting my athletic requirements and goals.
Go on, try something new for breakfast!
You don’t need to overhaul your breakfast completely but I encourage you to try a few new things every now and then, even if it’s a small ‘side’ dish to start with. Nothing is off-limits!
You could just be surprised at the positive difference this makes to your day!
Jade Osborne | Lifestyle Coach