Free Press Journal

Tips and tricks for the healthy breakfast


We may be accustomed to start our day with oil-rich and spicy delicacies, but Boshika Gupta outlines the drawbacks which come with the deep fried breakfasts

The next time you find yourself reaching out for your favourite cream biscuit or a scrumptious vada pav first thing in the morning, you may want to think again. According to a study conducted recently by HealthifyMe, a mobile health and fitness company, Indians have incredibly unhealthy breakfast habits, making it one of the most dangerous meals we consume along with fatty snacks that make an appearance throughout the day.

Here’s a list of the most popular signature breakfast picks found in different parts of the country:

Medu Vada
A popular South Indian favourite, this delicious snack may often be perceived to be healthy thanks to the fact that it has lentils. It is, however, difficult for the body to digest first thing in the morning and is fried. You’re better off reserving medu vadasfor other meals occasionally.

ParanthasW_end_Feb26_pg3_food parantha
A North Indian staple, paranthas are found in many homes in the morning.  They won’t do damage if they’re not fried and aren’t accompanied by dollops of butter or ghee. The key is to have them without a dip like pickles and not go overboard with oil. You can even switch things up by experimenting with vegetables instead of only using potatoes in your paranthas. Maida or flour used to make paranthas is rather harmful and best avoided. Other options such as ragi rank much higher in terms of nutritional benefits.

Puri BhajiW_end_Feb26_pg3_food puri bhaji
Loved in several parts of the country, this dish is prepared differently with some sticking to sautéed potato chunks and others experimenting with a mixed vegetable variant known as kurma. This isn’t the healthiest option thanks to the fact that it’s fried and potatoes aren’t the best pick early in the day.

The Vada PavW_end_Feb26_pg3_food vada pav
The humble vada pav that is hugely popular in Maharashtra isn’t as innocent as it looks. These deep fried buns with potato fillings can set you back by approximately 280 calories. More often than not, you’ll be tempted to have more than one, causing serious damage to your health. Your mornings are better off without this high-calorie snack.

Jalebi-FafdaW_end_Feb26_pg3_food jalebi
A much-loved and devoured Gujarati snack, this one isn’t for the faint-hearted.  As yummy as this combination gets, it’s toxic for your health. Sugar-laden jalebis and fried fafdas are a very high-calorie choice and offer little nutritional value. Switch these up with steamed dhoklas instead.

With a plethora of options at our disposal, things get even more complicated thanks to misleading ads and fleeting trends. Sweetened breakfast cereals, sandwiches loaded with mayonnaise or juices with too much sugar are extremely bad for your waistline.

Take your morning fill
The dieticians insist that skipping breakfast, even if you’re trying to cut down on your overall calorie intake, is never a good idea. Geeta Shenoy, a dietician and nutritionist who practises in Chembur, Mumbai said, “Breakfast is the most important meal, as it kick starts the day by boosting energy levels at the beginning of the day.” Skipping breakfast means dealing with a host of evils such as sluggishness, irritability, eventual weight gain (since your body slips into starvation mode), difficulty focusing on tasks, and more.  Also, hunger pangs will hit you hard hours later and you’ll be tempted to grab unhealthy snacks to curb your appetite.

Don’t go overboard
However, treating yourself to a good breakfast is often misconstrued or taken for granted by too many people.  Another dietician, Neha Chandna who works in Khar explained that people go overboard when they’re advised to have a good breakfast, treating it like a free pass to have whatever they want. “They end up eating oily, fried and heavy food which instead of giving them energy takes away a lot of energy,” she said. Khushboo Sahijwani, who also specialises in nutrition, opined that many Indians aren’t even used to the idea of sitting down for breakfast and treating it like a proper meal.  They either skip it completely or grab something on the go (probably oily and fattening) like a vada pav or missal pav.

The supermarket offenders
Most of the nutritionists pointed out the worst of the lot like white bread-based options and sugary trendy picks such as cereals that aren’t healthy at all.  There’s also office canteen food with generous amounts of oil such as samosas and vadas. Fried food options wreak havoc on our systems when consumed early in the day with such an alarming regularity.

Catching them young
Millennials, while better exposed to nutrition, diet trends and even fitness apps don’t fare much better themselves.  “Sometimes, when they cannot procure healthy options, they go for whatever is available at work or college,” Chandna said. Shenoy offered that young adolescent girls are especially vulnerable and resort to distorted views when it comes to breakfast, picking options like simply fruit or milk or popular sugary cereals, causing a spike in insulin levels following which they feel ravenous later in the day and indulge in unhealthy choices like pizzas. The nutritionists offer wholesome options that can help you navigate across an endless labyrinth of choices. Your best bet is to stick to the healthiest and traditional breakfast options that are available in your kitchen such as rolled oats with milk, upma (with sprouts), scrambled eggs with vegetables,  poha, simple idlis (no butter!) and plain homemade dosas.