Make time for breakfast

Bowl of porridge with berries

It’s a strong contender for the ‘meal most likely to be skipped’ category, especially if it means getting up in the dark, but eating breakfast is an important start to the day.

A nutritious breakfast will help to make sure you have the nutrients you need and energy for the morning ahead, and studies have shown that it can also help you to maintain a healthy weight.

But, aside from all of the reasons why it’s good for you, having a tasty breakfast to look forward to may be just the incentive you need to get you out of bed.

Porridge and toppings

"Studies have shown that breakfast can help you to maintain a healthy weight"

A cooked breakfast doesn’t necessarily mean a saturated fat-filled fry-up. Porridge is quick and easy to make and is a warm and filling start to the day. Porridge oats are whole grains, which provide fibre to help keep your digestive system healthy. They also contain soluble fibre (the kind found in pulses like beans, lentils and chickpeas), which can help to lower your cholesterol level.

Make your porridge with low-fat milk to keep the saturated fat down but still give you a comforting and nutritious start to the day. While there are lots of porridge purists out there who insist that perfect oats take time to make and there is much debate about how it should be stirred, it doesn’t have to be that way. Even with real porridge oats, you can make a bowlful in just a couple of minutes in the microwave.

Perhaps you don’t think that porridge sounds that exciting? Well, think again, as what you add is down to you. The classic cream and sugar or salt flavourings aren’t going to be heart-friendly choices, but there are other additions that are better for you and tasty too.

Fresh and dried fruit work well in a number of combinations. Why not try adding banana and raisins, dried apricots, plums poached with cinnamon, or chunks of apple, pear and dates? Depending on how much you add you may be able to include this as one of your 5-a-day, or at least some way towards it – a handful of fresh fruit is about a portion, or you can check our portion finder. You could also add a few seeds or nuts for some crunch – try hazelnuts and apple, walnuts and pears, or pumpkin seeds and apricots.

Porridge alternatives

Wholegrain toast with a poached eggChoosing a healthy breakfast doesn’t have to be complicated or extravagant, but it should be balanced. So make sure that you include some starchy carbohydrates, protein and fruit or vegetables. Wholegrain toast with a poached or boiled egg and a glass of juice or low-fat yoghurt with fruit and wholegrain cereals, for example, would fit the bill.

If you like a cooked breakfast once in a while, opt for healthier options like poached eggs, reduced-sugar and salt baked beans, and grilled mushrooms and tomatoes on toasted wholegrain bread. If you include sausages and bacon, check the labels to make sure you make the lowest saturated fat and salt choices, and grill rather than fry them.

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