Breaking your fast

     Print Edition: Nov 14, 2010

How often do you find yourself skipping breakfast in order to get to office on time? The younger and busier you are, the more often it is likely to happen. Between the hectic and exacting schedules of today's professionals and the need for adequate rest, the convenient casualties are exercise and breakfast. As you rush to work, quite often you just grab a glass of milk or juice or a cup of coffee or sometimes not even that, little realising that you are adding one more problem to your life: Lack of nutrition.

"I feel famished by 11-11.30 a.m.," says Garima, 33, who works with a telecom service provider. This is because, as she says: "On most days, I tend to grab a glass of milk for breakfast." She ends up eating instant noodles after reaching office, for want of a better option, not realising that she is making things worse.

Right foods

1. Oats or porridge with milk along with a bowl of fruits

2. Poha (sautéed flattened rice) with vegetables along with lassi

3. Vegetable or egg sandwiches with a glass of milk

4. Sattu (powdered baked gram) is an excellent option both as a drink and as an ingredient in chapattis

5. Toasted bread sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil. This goes well with a glass of milk
Garima is not the only one committing a lifestyle blunder. "Many professionals I speak to say they don't have the time for breakfast. Even when they find time (in office), they may not have wholesome options," says Ritika Samaddar, Regional Head of Dietetics at Max Healthcare, adding: "The snacks available in offices are nothing short of a disaster. Samosas and pakodas are calorie-dense and nothing else."

If you work long hours, chances are that you are not eating a proper breakfast, lunch as well as dinner. In such a scenario, breakfast becomes even more important. "If you have a wholesome breakfast, your metabolic rate increases. And if you don't have breakfast, your metabolic rate goes down and you feel lethargic throughout the day," Samaddar says.

What constitutes a wholesome breakfast? "For sedentary workers, bread, porridge, oats or even a chapatti or two will work fine, but not fried paranthas and curd," Samaddar says, adding that the parantha-sabzi-lassi option works only for field workers. Her personal favourite is toasted bread sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil, which, she says, goes well with a glass of milk.

Nutritionists say a wholesome breakfast must have the right proportion of carbohydrates and protein. Toasted bread taken with a cup of tea can be filling, not wholesome. But substitute tea with a cup of milk and an egg and it becomes wholesome. The proportion of cereals and protein in your meal also determines when you will feel hungry again. If your breakfast is rich in carbohydrates, you get instant energy but your body slips into a "low" very fast, making you hungry again in an hour or so. If the food is protein-rich, the release of energy is gradual.

Just having a glass of juice for breakfast is a mistake, as it has only carbohydrates. A whole fruit is a much better option. Almonds are a rich source of vitamin E and healthy fat. A good breakfast (see Right Foods) should provide a third of the body's requirement of micronutrients.

-Saumya Bhattacharya

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