Today, we’re chatting all-things breakfast. As a breakfast enthusiast, this topic is near and dear to my heart. I often go to bed excited for my morning meal (and coffee!)—and scoping out Denver’s best brunch spots is a weekend habit. Do you prioritize breakfast? And is your plate satisfying and nutritious? Are you hungry shortly after waking, or do you wait hours for your first meal? In the spirit of hormonal balance and connecting with your natural appetite, let’s dive into the power of a balanced breakfast. Plus, why what you eat for breakfast is important for hormone health.
choose sugar, crave sugar
As the first meal of the day, your breakfast has the ability to set the tone for all other foods you choose. After all, it’s proven (both physically and psychologically) that if you start with healthy choices, you’re more likely to eat nourishing foods throughout the day. Said differently: if you start with a bowl of sugary cereal in the morning, you’re more likely to crave refined carbs and added sugar throughout the day. However, if you choose quality protein (eggs, Greek yogurt, tofu scramble, etc.), complex carbs (fruit, sprouted grain toast, etc.), and satiating fats (avocado, ghee, nut butter, etc.), you’re providing your body with the calories and fuel to take on the day.
What is a Healthy breakfast?
When it comes to building a healthy breakfast, this will be unique to your needs, lifestyle, genetics, and cravings. How much food you need to feel satisfied and satiated is going to be different than me! However, here’s a good universal rule of thumb: a healthy breakfast contains high-quality protein, natural fats, complex carbs, and anti-inflammatory ingredients. All of these components help balance hormones, aid in blood sugar management, and support stable energy. A few of my favorite healthy breakfast ingredients include chia seeds, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, berries, banana, nut butter, sourdough toast, avocado, eggs, ghee, full-fat cheese, spinach, mushrooms, and sauerkraut. Opting for whole, minimally-processed foods provides your body with the energy it needs to thrive.
How breakfast helps balance hormones
Spoiler alert: a nutrient-dense breakfast is the gateway to supporting natural hormonal rhythms. In other words, what you eat for breakfast is important for hormone health. The timing of your meal is, too. Optimal ingredients and optimal timing (more on that, below!) help to balance hormones like cortisol and insulin. And this is important because we want steady energy, temperament, and focus throughout the day. Furthermore, when you eat a nourishing breakfast, you’re also supporting your metabolism. And when your metabolism remains balanced, your endocrine system is more likely to remain stable. In turn, this helps avoid imbalanced hormones. A healthy breakfast also promotes heart health and improves cognitive function.
The ideal breakfast formula for hormone balance
When cortisol and insulin are out of whack in the morning—meaning, they’re more elevated more than they should be—it’s much more difficult to get the body back on track. Reason being, when cortisol is higher than normal in the morning, so is blood sugar. In turn, insulin resistance sets in. This can happen a few different ways: skipping breakfast, waking up and immediately encountering a stressor (like an urgent email), or eating a doughnut without adequate protein and fiber on the side. Short-term, these scenarios cause sugar spikes and crashes. Hello, sugar high and consequent hanger. Long term, chronically elevated insulin can lead to diabetes. Ideally, your breakfast should be nutrient-dense, cortisol-friendly, and insulin-friendly.
formula: Nutrient-dense + cortisol-friendly + insulin-friendly
the power of eating shortly after waking
Before we put the breakfast formula to use, keep in mind that the timing of your breakfast is also crucial.In other words, when you eat helps keep hormones balanced. Especially for women. Eating within 30-60 minutes of rising is necessary for re-energizing and re-hydrating your body. You can’t drive your car without gas, so don’t ask your body to go anywhere without fuel. If you don’t currently wake up hungry, aim for something light to start: small cup of chia pudding with berries, a couple of energy bites, or a hard boiled egg with apple slices. And no, coffee is not breakfast!
Are you suppressing your appetite?
If you like to exercise first thing in the morning, tap into your hunger levels. Ask yourself if you truly aren’t hungry, or if you’re actually suppressing your appetite. There’s a significant difference. Beginning to connect with your natural appetite is a great place to start. For those practicing intermittent fasting—which is not something I recommend for menstruating women—I also suggest an honest check-in. Do you feel stressed, fatigued, or ravenous before bedtime? If so, intermittent fasting may not be as beneficial as think. Keep in mind that missing your morning meal confuses your hunger hormones, setting you up to overeat later on in the day. This has a (negative) cascading effect on your reproductive organs.
8 Healthy breakfast ideas
As mentioned, what you eat for breakfast is important for hormone health. Without further ado, here are 10 healthy breakfast ideas to start your day off on the right foot. If possible, opt for organic dairy, pasture-raised eggs + meat, and non-GMO tofu.
Cottage cheese bowl
Full-fat cottage cheese (1/2-1 cup), topped with 1-2 fried eggs (cooked in ghee), sea salt, black pepper, nutritional yeast, and arugula. Sub the eggs for smoked salmon! On the side: small apple with nut butter or tahini.
To a blender, add 20+ grams protein powder (grass-fed or plant-based), large handful spinach, 1 cup frozen berries, 1-2 spoonfuls ground flax, two spoonfuls nut butter or tahini, and unsweetened milk of choice (organic cow’s milk or non-dairy milk).
veggie omelet with fruit
Whisk 2-3 eggs in ghee with non-starchy veggies (greens, mushrooms, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, etc.); side of banana coins topped with nut butter, cinnamon, and chia seeds. Hot tip: add a small spoonful of pesto to your omelet!
Block of tempeh (1/2-1 cup) scrambled in coconut oil with sea salt, turmeric, black pepper, and garlic powder; side of sprouted grain toast with mashed avocado, cilantro, lemon juice, and sea salt.
chocolate chia seed pudding
Cheesy Breakfast sandwich
Savory brown rice bowl
Add 1/2-1 cup brown rice to a bowl, topped with baked tofu and sautéed greens in coconut oil (kale, bok choy, spinach, etc.); add chopped green onions, coconut aminos, sesame oil, and sesame seeds.
See recipe, here. Feel free to swap the eggs for chicken sausage, turkey bacon, or veggie-based sausage. Serve with fruit.
Images courtesy of Unsplash.
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This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider.