Sunday, 9 October 2011
Nutella and Healthy Breakfasts!
I’ve once again heard the Nutella advert on the radio and I am wondering exactly just who are the nutritionists who endorse ‘deux tartines de Nutella, un jus de fruit et un yogurt’ as a healthy breakfast! While yes, it is vaguely balanced, containing carbohydrates, fruit and a milk product, that’s about the only positive thing you can say about it. Aside from the ecological issues around production of palm oil, Nutella is composed or over 50% sugar (and if you want a chuckle have a look at the Nutella website www.nutella.com.au). However Nutella is not the only culprit, a standard cereal targeted for children (and this includes the organic ones) usually contains at least 30% sugar. I am currently looking gloomily at a packet of Cheerios which I was ‘forced’ to buy in Carrefour by my son! It’s made by Nestle and has a big green tick to show that it is made up of ‘wholegrains’ but it should also have a big red cross to indicate that 35.4g of sugar per 100g of cereal is much too high! In fact, any product containing over 10% of sugar (and this includes flavoured yoghurts, petit Suisse etc) should have a fat red cross plastered all over it as far as I’m concerned.
All the research shows the importance of children eating breakfast in the mornings. It helps give them energy to get through the school morning and improves their concentration. For their health and wellbeing though, it is better if the breakfasts are made up of nutrient rich foods, such as wholegrains, fruits and dairy. To put it simply, food is broken down by the body to provide ‘fuel’ in the form of a sugar called glucose. The reason that refined carbohydrates (which includes white bread, sugary cereals and sugary juices) are best avoided is that these are broken down too quickly by the body. This causes a massive surge of sugar into the bloodstream which is then followed by a crash in blood sugar levels as the body tries to normalise sugar levels. Our children need food which will be broken down slowly to release a constant energy stream. The problem with sending children off to school after a bowl of sugary cereal or 2 pieces of white toast with jam, is that these foods do not contain enough ‘slow release’ energy to keep your child going until lunchtime. Ever noticed your child becoming fidgety and irritable 2 hours after eating a sugary meal? Low blood sugar levels could be the cause.
So, what is a healthy breakfast? Ideally, a wholegrain cereal, a protein food and a piece of fruit. The wholegrains and the protein provide a slow and sustained release of ‘fuel’ for your child and it is always preferable for your child to eat a piece of fruit rather than drink it, as the fruit contains fibre and other nutrients which might be missing from the juice.
Ideas for a healthy breakfast include:
· Boiled egg and wholemeal toast
· Unsweetened muesli
· Unsweetened yogurt with chopped fruit
· Peanut butter and mashed banana on toast
· Muffins (see my recipe below!)
As always, I advocate balance, and in order to ensure that your children don’t protest too much, you could limit packaged cereals to holiday times and nutella as a birthday treat!
Reference: Rampersaud GC Pereira MA Girard BL Adams J Metzl JD (2005) Breakfast Habits, Nutritional Status, Body Weight, and Academic Performance in Children and Adolescents Journal of the American Dietetic Association 105 5 743-760
Funky and Fit Banana Muffins
Heat oven to 200 degrees . Grease 12 hole muffin tin.
Put the following dry ingredients in a bowl:
200g wholemeal flour, 100g oats, 55g brown sugar, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp bi carb of soda and 1tsp cinnamon
Make a well in the middle and then add 2 beaten eggs, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 50ml sunflower oil, 50ml milk and 2 tbs agave syrup. Mix but do not over mix as this will make the muffins tough. Fill muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes.