15th October 2015: Maintaining a regular breakfast habit is essential to keep Christmas kilojoules in check and stay healthy through the festive season, according to dietitians.
On average Australians gain up to 1.5kg at Christmas time1 and Dietitian Leigh Reeve says our irregular eating pattern is as much to blame as the spike in party foods during the festive season.
“Meals can become chaotic and irregular for the whole family, and it is very easy to eat too much, too often, without getting the fibre and essential nutrients you need to keep you healthy through this busy time,” said Ms Reeve, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Director of The Australian Breakfast Cereal Manufacturers Forum (ABCMF).
“Weight gain is common and irregular meals can lead to irregular bowels, which can weigh you down, leave you feeling bloated and make kids cranky.
“Breakfast is the easiest meal to keep consistent in the season of long lunches, school concerts and end-of-year catch ups. It gives us a nutritious base for the day, satisfies hunger and is an important source of dietary fibre, which many party foods don’t provide.
“So at this time of year taking five minutes in the mornings to make sure the whole family is sticking with their regular breakfast routine is essential.
“Skipping brekkie can also add to festive season pitfalls, with research showing breakfast skippers are more likely to be tempted by ‘party foods’ before lunchtime, and are also more likely to over indulge at morning teas or lunches.”
Extensive scientific research supports a role for breakfast in maintaining a healthy weight with studies showing regular breakfast cereal eaters are slimmer and have more nutritious diets than breakfast skippers2.
Dietitian Leigh Reeve’s balanced brekkies for the festive season:
Balanced bowl – a simple bowl of your favourite breakfast cereal or muesli combined with milk or yoghurt and fresh fruit will provide essential nutrients needed in the day. Choosing a high fibre option during the festive season can help to maintain regularity and will help you ward off snacking for longer.
Christmas-themed toast – whole grain toast with low fat ricotta and fresh sliced tomato is a simple yet nutritious brekkie option. Top with some fresh basil to kick of the day with a red and green theme.
On-the-go goodness – for a quick and easy option in the busy festive season, try blending fresh in-season berries with milk, yoghurt and bran cereal for a boost of fibre. Try a pinch of cinnamon for a festive touch. When you’re really short on time, a liquid breakfast drink containing fibre can be super quick and easy.
Overnight oats – if you know you have a busy day ahead, prep your breakfast the night before by combining oats with water, a splash of apple juice and some Greek yoghurt in a mason jar, pop some summer fruit on top and soak overnight.
A smashing brekkie – take advantage of summer avocadoes by adding smashed avo to a whole grain English Muffin with smoked salmon or poached egg. Enjoy with a small coffee or glass of milk for the little ones.
Satisfying pre-party snacks – a small bowl of breakfast cereal and milk also makes a great pre-party meal to help to reduce over-indulgence in treat food and drink. Scientific evidence shows eating breakfast cereal as a snack or meal replacement can assist in weight loss in adults2.
Five food groups in one – Covering off all food groups at brekkie can be as easy as enjoying whole grain cereal and milk topped with your favourite fruit and nuts with a small veggie juice on the side.
- Nutrition Australia (2011). Tips to Beat the Christmas Bulge. http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/tips-beat-christmas-bulge
- Williams PG (2014). The Benefits of Breakfast Cereal Consumption: A Systematic Review of the Evidence Base. Advances in Nutrition; 5: 636S-673S.