Tag Archives: breakfast

Proven: the mistake of missing a complete breakfast

Remember I once mentioned that having too little for breakfast makes one hungry all day, ie get fat? Well it happened today. I had an appointment this morning which gave me no chance to eat between 7.30am and 11.15am. A mistake.

Fact is, I had planned to take a break around 8ish to grab second breakfast, but it did not materialize. You could say it was my own fault, I decided not to leave my post.

So all I had then was a very small bowl of cereal with my usual two strawberries and a small handful of blueberries, and a floss bun. The floss bun in itself was an unusual addition – I normally do not eat such a thing for first breakfast. But I did it this morning thinking I needed a bit of extra carbs for the morning endeavor. It was probably a double trap. Not only was the quickly digested bun useless for the rest of the morning, but it has probably already settled down in my prime (read: waist) estate as more unwelcome fat.

Anyway, I did not eat again until 11.15am, and that was one slice of wholemeal bread. Lunch materialized at noon but I could hardly enjoy it as I was in a hurry. In any case, thereafter the hunger curse began.

I was hungry again at 2, had a slice of papaya. Harmless and good. Hungry again at 3.30pm, that’s odd…. Never mind since I was not working today, treated myself to a peanut butter and marmalade wholemeal sandwich.

Hungry AGAIN at 5pm, had dinner early at 5.30 – salmon sushi with 1/3 rice, and six cherry tomatoes.

Hungry AGAIN at 7.15, had an apple, hoping this would seem quite normal on a typical day for me.

Nope, hungry again at 8pm, had a 1/3 slice of wholemeal bread with 1/4 slice of cheese. Something is definitely wrong.

Yes, hungry yet again at 9pm. I was preparing my breakfast sandwich for tomorrow. Had half a cup of no-fat milk and stole a little bit of chilli tuna meant for the sandwich.

And no prizes for guessing – still hungry, right this moment while penning this. It’s 10.45pm and I now utterly refuse to entertain my stomach’s protests. In fact, it just growled. But I am using the sheer indignation of it all to punish myself.

I am simply flabbergasted. I swear I will never allow myself to miss a complete breakfast again. And neither should you.

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Strawberries, my original breakfast cereal staple

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A peek into the vegetable chiller compartment of my fridge. What you see – strawberries, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, dried cranberries, blueberries… essentially, is all mine. Over the course of the last few months I’ve gradually taken over the drawer of the chiller. I think my wife hasn’t realized it yet.

Strawberries. My original breakfast cereal staple. First Breakfast became a much fresher concept when I realized that strawberries added a burst of sparkle to the taste. Strawberries used to be the Fruit That I Did Not Know What To Do With, because it was too small, too expensive and I am not a baker. Also, strawberries across the modern ages has had its reputation spoiled by such artificialities as strawberry jam, strawberry ice cream/yoghurt and strawberry candy – all of which have successfully fooled generations of people that strawberry is supposed to be inordinately sweet. It is not, that’s just the sugar talking. I grew up thinking strawberries are classified as “sweet fruits”. You know, like mango and oranges. Until I ate a real one.

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OK to be fair, if you know how to choose (I’m still learning) and pay enough, you can have sweet – make that mildly, reasonably – sweet strawberries, like these Korean strawberries. I’m not going to ask anyone if these are genetically modified or generously fertilizer-ed. All I know is, over the last 3 or 4 months I’ve been buying strawberries almost weekly, and between Australian, New Zealand and Korean strawberries so far, the latter are consistently the sweeter ones. In any case, for the last month they seem to be the only ones in season. Don’t ask me about Japanese strawberries though. I can’t afford them.

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Indeed, price has always been an issue. For me, in Singapore, a bag of fruits is considered reasonable if it’s $2. I buy five American Gala apples for $2 at your typical supermarket. Strawberries tend to start at the $4 end for a box, which typically contains about 15 to 18 strawberries. It’s not, to me anyway, a cheap investment, especially since they do spoil faster, even in the chiller.

I’ve learnt that you should be careful buying strawberries that are on sale. These are at the end of the their shelf life and are liable to spoil within a few days in the chiller. Sometimes however, fresh strawberries really are on sale at a discount, so the trick is to visually check before you buy. Brightly coloured (reds and greens) strawberries good; wilted leaves bad.

Speaking of appearance, I read that strawberries really ought to be red, and those with whitish parts aren’t as good. This seems to be true, going by my buying and tasting experience so far. Another thing – I used to think strawberries, as depicted on gift cards and cutesy stationary – ought to be pointed and heart-shaped. Until my friend told me the really good ones are the ones shaped like feet – as in, splayed out at the end, not pointed.

Mould – in my own observations, strawberries seem to develop mould if they are kept in the same position in the box too long. So, after a day or two, I would usually remove the bubblewrap used to protect the berries during transit, and jiggle the box to reposition them in the box.

Over the months, the chiller in my fridge has rarely gone a day without containing some strawberries. I’ve grown so used to buying them that I no longer think much about the price (well, unless it exceeds $5). It is a nutritional superfood anyway and much better eaten in its natural form – I remain unable to appreciate strawberries in any artificial form. I do like blueberry tarts though, but that’s another berry for another day,

 

Homemade Sandwiches

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Just made a sandwich at home for breakfast tomorrow. Contents: Ayam-brand sardines in light sauce (reduced salt), hard-boiled egg (half the yolk), cucumber and cherry tomatoes on multi-grain bread.  Looking forward to seeing the sandwich with my morning coffee tomorrow.

In Singapore, good affordable sandwiches are generally hard to find. Most of the time the easiest to find are factory-made, mass-produced sandwiches sold at station bakeries, typically stuffed with a combination of ham, egg mayo and tuna. I find it a rather oily and somewhat dissatisfying combination. It has no artistry.

24-hour conveniene stores like 7-11 in Singapore haven’t wakened to the concept of selling fine sandwiches – like convenience stores in Japan (eg. Lawson, Family Mart) do. Convenience stores here still sells cheaply done, obviously factory-mass-produced sandwiches which I feel are not worth the calories nor the price.

Japanese convenience store sandwiches look like this:

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They’re just beautiful and screaming quality.

Not having the privilege of being able to buy these in Singapore, I much prefer to make my own. Over the course of my weight loss journey, I’ve tried a few, frankly neither unusual nor spectacular recipes.

  • Chilli tuna in sunflower oil with hard-boiled egg and cucumber.
  • Fat-trimmed bacon, egg, tomato, cucumber and mozzarella.
  • Smoked salmon, mustard and egg.
  • Salmon patty and omelette.
  • Peanut butter and yuzu jam.

Etc. and here’s the important thing: NEVER use plain white bread. These are empty calories, refined carbohydrates that are immediately digested and waiting for you to burn. If you don’t burn it, it gets stored as fat.

Multigrain bread is better, more nutritious. Wholemeal bread has even less carbs. Both still have significant carbs but at least they are complex carbohydrates that are burned slowly by the body, and come packed with more natural nutrients from the whole grain.

Hate the grainy texture of non-white bread? Persist. Keep eating wholemeal bearing in mind the benefits. And one fine day you will be so used to it that the thought of plain white bread might just put you off! That’s how it is for me now.

What about second breakfast?

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Over the course of the last few months, I’ve discovered many things about how my eating habits affect my weight, energy and hunger levels. Many were discovered by trial and error, and some speak volumes about old bits of wisdom we already know. One of these is the importance of breakfast.

For about two months now, I’ve been having two breakfasts. The first one I take the moment I wake up – it’s almost the first thing I do these days on a working day. Two things inspired me to do this: one, the fact that I go to bed with an empty stomach (not necessarily hungry – but since I do not snack anymore at night, theoretically my stomach is empty when my head hits the pillow). Two, because we should not sit down after eating – thus, it seems logical that having breakfast before setting off on the hour-long journey to work would be a good idea.

I ate a variety of things when I decided on this course, but in the last month or so I’ve settled on one particular thing for First Breakfast: Post Honey Bunches of Oats cereal with two fresh strawberries. It’s tasty, it’s light, it’s healthy and surprisingly, this particular cereal by Post is not very high in the carb rating (my trainer was skeptical until I showed him the nutrition info table).

I have sensed that this particular meal seems to do enough magic for my system to help weight loss. When I started this, my weight consistently fell. I attribute this to the fact that having an ample breakfast (in this case, two breakfasts) keeps hunger down for the rest of the day. For me at least – if I fail to eat enough for breakfast, I am unusually hungry throughout the rest of the day – and this is very bad because I’ll tend to snack.

I found this exact phenomenon happening even on weekends where I wake up late and have a late breakfast, say at 9.15am. I don’t allow myself to wolf down a single huge breakfast to make up for it, so in effect I eat less than usual. Unfortunately this often makes me rather peckish for the rest of the day.

Splitting breakfast in two on the other hand allows me to eat one small breakfast at the break of day, and a second medium-sized breakfast when I reach office. This supports the notion of having many small meals a day instead of three big meals, too. I find myself feeling better fed for the day, and can thus eat less.

The hobbits may seem to eat a lot, but they probably got the right idea about having many meals.