It’s still March Break here, so our mornings have been leisurely and relaxed. I decided to make French toast for breakfast the other day.
French toast, full of eggs, milk, cinnamon-sugar and maple syrup, is not a standard breakfast food for us. Neither are pancakes. We all tend to feel a fatigue-ish slump halfway through our day if we consume sugary or highly processed products first thing in the morning. So muffins, pastry, or sweetened cereals are usually out. No pancakes or French toast on school mornings, either.
But during March break, no one gets up early. We lounge around in pjs, have coffee and watch cartoons.
That morning, I had a serving of French toast too, with extra cinnamon. On an empty stomach, even. (Well no, I had water and coffee first.) It was delicious and a treat, but to me it felt more like dessert than breakfast. I knew I’d suffer, later, when the slump will hit me.
And did it ever. By 10 am I was on the couch barely able to keep my eyes open. Fatigue is an understatement…I was so tired I actually napped until noon!
I should know better. When I was in my mid 20s, I had such severe Hypoglycemia that I fainted while being tested at the doctor’s office.
Hypoglycemia is a condition known as low blood sugar. If the blood sugar drops to dangerously low levels, the symptoms vary from clumsiness, trouble talking, confusion, and severe fatigue. In rare cases it can lead to loss of consciousness, or worse. I often had shaky hands (like a diabetic), more hunger and cravings for sugar, and a very heavy, lethargic feeling of weakness in my body. Barely able to lift my arms, or walk. So tired.
I changed my dietary habits then, and eating protein for breakfast has saved me from this endless napping I used to do. Napping induced from the Hypoglycemia.
The trick is to consume something that is mostly protein, and if carbs are required, complex carbs. Poached eggs (I have a microwaveable container that makes them in 46 seconds) on whole grain toast works, with a slice of bacon (also not a staple), ham or other types of deli meat. Sometimes I use a whole wheat English muffin, and make a portable egg-muffin sandwich (great to eat on the go if you’re late and are bound to sit in traffic for a bit).
A protein-type breakfast tends to hold us over longer. There doesn’t seem to be that mid-morning craving for a sweet snack or drink, either. My son says that since he’s started eating the egg-muffins for breakfast he is able to hold on till lunch without needing to snack on some processed crap at recess.
Sugar, it seems, causes our brains to signal for more. Consume some, crave more, eat more, vicious cycle.
Go sniff the breath of your children during late mornings and try to determine if they had too much sugar for breakfast. My daughter sometimes smells almost like a diabetic…we know to cut back on her beloved toast with honey on those days and I give her probiotic greek yogurt instead, plain with fresh berries perhaps. Or scrambled eggs (she won’t eat poached). Something that isn’t a white carb or has sugar in it. Almond or peanut butter even…on gluten free crackers maybe. Or oatmeal…The trouble is she prefers sweetened porridge, with lots of maple syrup, so that wouldn’t work on those days…If she would eat hummus, that would be another option.
It’s all so challenging.
The nap after the French toast didn’t feel refreshing. I woke up groggy and lethargic and realized that the tone was set for the day now. I can’t turn back the clock and forgo the French toast. What I should have done was have a poached egg first, something with protein, and then have one slice of French toast. I probably wouldn’t have reacted quite as badly as I did with all that sugar on an empty stomach.
What do you make for breakfast? Do you skip it all together or eat a snack prior to lunch? Is your breakfast routine habitual or do you have other reasons for choosing what to eat, or not eat, prior to commencing your day?