Breakfast Tips for Beating Carb-Cravings
By Jim Nicolai, M.D., medical director, Andrew Weil, M.D. Integrative Wellness Program at Miraval
I often talk about wellness as a feeling you get when you use a series of strategies that guide you closer to health. I’ve written a book of quick and easy tools to make that happen in a way that is not so complex or difficult to manage. It’s called Integrative Wellness Rules: A Simple Guide to Healthy Living. Health is so much more achievable when it’s simple, doable, effective, and even fun. One of my best health tips is starting the day with a breakfast that’s quick to fix, burns fat, fights inflammation, and keeps you from chasing carb-cravings all day.
When I eat a typical morning meal on the fly, something like oatmeal with raisins and a glass of milk, a donut or pastry with coffee, cereal and milk with banana and orange juice, I usually feel horrible. I’m wired for a bit and then my energy crashes. I’m not full for long and then start craving something else with sugar or starch. Once I start chasing quick-acting carbs, my day is a teeter-totter of highs and lows as my blood sugar spikes and then comes crashing down.
Remember, breakfast can be simple. I usually eat the same one, two, or three things without getting overly bored with them. They just need to satisfy the requirements that keep me wanting to eat them: quick food that is easy to make, and makes me feel good. I can enjoy diversity at lunch or dinner.
My favorite breakfast is either plain yogurt with a little whey protein powder mixed in or half plain yogurt, half-Greek yogurt (which has more protein). Having equal portions of protein with carbohydrate stabilizes my blood sugars and fills me up far more. I use mixed frozen berries as my carb source — organic blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries that I keep in the freezer and lightly thaw. I then add one or two tablespoons of ground flax seed, which is high in fiber, loaded with vegetarian omega-3 fats and plant-based estrogen known as lignans to help protect against prostate cancer (and breast cancer for women).
With that I drink a cup of matcha green tea that is exploding with antioxidants and phytochemicals called polyphenols for lowering cholesterol, boosting metabolism, and fighting cancer. This breakfast is a great way to start the day. It can boost your metabolism for help with weight loss or if you are like me, keep my weight nice and stable.
Instead of a yogurt smoothie, my second choice would be eggs — usually omega-3 fortified—with egg whites for additional protein. I typically use two to three egg whites with one whole egg, sautéed or lightly fried in a pan with olive oil. To this I will add fresh basil and maybe some red pepper flakes. I love black beans for fiber, which helps keep blood sugar from spiking. I’ll put salsa on top for color and a bit of a kick. If I have time, I will sauté some spinach in olive oil, garlic, and lemon. This may take a bit more time than the yogurt, but still, lots of color, taste and textures, and all done in less than ten minutes.
What are your favorite ways to break fast well?
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Dr. Jim Nicolai is a board-certified family practitioner and a graduate of the Integrative Medicine Fellowship at the University of Arizona in Tucson, under the direction of Dr. Andrew Weil. Dr. Nicolai has a special interest in whole-person medicine, addressing patients as mental and emotional beings, energetic and spiritual entities, and community members, as well as physical bodies. His expertise is in combining conventional medicine with the intelligent use of complementary and alternative therapies, including herbs and other botanicals, vitamins and supplements, lifestyle management, and stress reduction. Read more about our Wellness Week experts.
Dr. Nicolai’s book Integrative Wellness Rules: A Simple Guide to Healthy Living was released by Hay House Publishing on January 2, 2013. $14.71; amazon.com