Do you eat breakfast?
Eating breakfast is very important if you want to lose weight. Your body needs fuel to generate energy to start your day. That’s not all. Eating breakfast will help to keep your blood sugar level from rising quickly. As a result, there can be less weight gain and diseases! However, the key is HOW you eat breakfast.
When I came to the US, I struggled to eat sweets for breakfast. For example: pancake, waffle, muffin, cinnamon roll, donut, etc., all of these are sweet. For me these were deserts not breakfast!
I grew up with traditional Japanese breakfast. I used to eat rice every morning. A sample menu is salmon, natto (fermented soy beans), cooked spinach, grated daikon, tofu, miso soup and rice.
As time goes by, our breakfast became westernized. It is true that Japanese people consume more bread than rice. You can buy yummy bread at any grocery store in Japan. As a result, our breakfast menu was changed. We now eat bread every morning. The rest of the menu was also changed to go with bread. The sample menu is fried egg, steamed cabbage, steamed carrot, cheese, toast, banana, yogurt and coffee.
How blood sugar level and insulin work?
Even if you don’t eat a sugary breakfast such as donuts, eating carbohydrates such as bread can spike your blood sugar level. Blood sugar level measures how much glucose is in the blood. When blood sugar level is high, the body will release insulin. Insulin will reduce glucose and lower the blood sugar level.
Insulin also causes excess glucose to be absorbed as fat cells. If the amount of stored fat cell is increased, you gain weight. If glucose is increased too much, it will not catch up with storing in fat cells. Instead, glucose in blood vessels will change and damage the blood vessel. As a result, it can cause many kinds of diseases. For example, diabetes, arteriosclerosis and even cancer!
Blood sugar level goes up after a meal and goes down gradually as the body releases insulin. When you eat a low Glycemic Index (GI) food for a first meal (breakfast), your body can tolerate high GI food for the second meal (lunch) without spiking the blood sugar. This is called the second meal effect. It’s like warming up the body to produce insulin and control the blood sugar level through the day.
What happens if you skip breakfast?
You must eat breakfast! If you skip breakfast, blood sugar level goes up even quicker and higher when you eat the next meal. More hormone and insulin are secreted during the next meal. That’s not all, you will not feel full at the next meal when you skip breakfast. As a result, you end up over eating. You have more chance to gain weight and develop diabetes.
Timing Is Everything
Eat breakfast as soon as you get up. If you don’t eat for a long time after you wake up, hormones will be secreted and the body will try to increase the sugar level in the blood in order to generate energy. If you eat breakfast in the condition of high blood sugar level, it will even go up higher!
Do Not Start With Carbohydrate
Don’t start with carbohydrate rich food such as bread and rice. Instead, start with food that is hard to digest. Dietary fiber rich food, such as vegetables, is a good choice. By lowering the speed of digestion blood sugar level will increase gradually.
Coffee After Meal
Do your start your day with a cup of coffee? Coffee is rich in polyphenol and prevents blood sugar spike. However, timing is very important. In order to slow down blood sugar spike, it is better to drink after meal. On the contrary, if you drink coffee before meal, it accelerates the blood sugar level because of the caffeine. Caffeine blocks insulin and promotes adrenalin. Adrenalin spikes the blood sugar level. Eating a meal after being in this condition will be double jeopardy!
Yogurt Before Meal
Yogurt is better eaten before breakfast in order to prevent a blood sugar spike. Dairy foods will slow down digestion. However, choose low fat and no sugar yogurt. You get much more healthy benefit by adding fruits and honey to plain yogurt. And it tastes good!
How You Eat Bread
How you eat bread can prevent 40% of blood sugar spike. Toasting bread will increase indigestible starch. Therefore, it will slow down the speed of digestion and generation of glucose. Wow! How easy is that! But you can do even more!
Are you avoiding butter because of fat? Actually, smearing butter on bread will help reducing a blood sugar spike. Fat from butter will slow down the speed from stomach to intestine. Therefore, it will digest more slowly.
If you want something sweet, smear honey on bread. Eating the sugar in honey, called oligosaccharide, will not spike the blood sugar level. On top of that, it will improve intestinal flora!
How You Eat Rice
Freshly made warm rice tastes great. The soft and sticky texture means more starch. Starch means more blood sugar level spike. Then, how do you eat rice?
Do not eat freshly made warm rice. Instead, wait until it cools down. You will notice that the texture will change. It is not so sticky anymore. It means that starch became indigestible starch.
If you want to eat fresh warm rice, eat with soluble dietary fiber food. Okra, Nagaimo (Japanese yam), and natto (fermented soy beans) are good examples. Slimy food works as barrier to wrap around rice. Just so you know, the slimy component will lose this benefit when cooked. Therefore, eat them fresh. In this way, you will cut blood glucose level in half!
Soup Or Salad?
Many Japanese people start their day with miso soup. Miso is fermented food and improves intestinal flora. And warm soup will wake up your body from inside. One thing you have to be careful of is sodium from miso. Add more vegetables into soup because the potassium contained in vegetables will help to release sodium from your body.
If you travel in Japan, many hotels will serve salad for breakfast. Dietary fiber from vegetables slow down digestion and reduce blood sugar spikes. You can do even more! Adding olive oil will prevent blood sugar spikes even more. Oleic acid in olive oil will promote insulin secretion.
If you have only 5 minutes to eat breakfast, go with oatmeal or cereal. However, stay away from cereal that is high in carbohydrates and sugar. Instead, eat dietary fiber rich oatmeal and wheat bran. Oatmeal contains both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Not only it will slow down digestion, but also it stimulate intestinal wall to promote stool.
You can eat big breakfast, but you need to start eating with hard to digest food. First eat dietary fiber rich ingredients before bread or rice. Dietary fiber rich ingredients are vegetables, beans, grains, mushrooms, sea vegetables, and fruits.
Tofu, eggs, cheese, meat, fish and nuts are good breakfast menu items. Eating DHA and EPA rich fish will help to secrete insulin. You may not want to cook fish in the morning. In that case, use canned fish. Canned sardine and tuna are good choices. And it’s available at any grocery store.
No Matter What You Eat
It is very important to chew more. Take time to chew more, ideally 10 times or more. It will slow down digestion and prevent a blood sugar level spike. Cut ingredients larger so that you have to chew more and it takes time to eat. Eating slower will slow digestion and the blood sugar level will go up slower. Chain reaction!
There are so many rules! Just pick one at a time. When you get used to that one, pick another one. If your life is too busy to follow these tips. Have an apple with skin for breakfast. Apple is rich in dietary fiber and pectin. It will prevent a blood sugar level spike.
With a modern diet, more people become diabetics. Many people depend on medication to control this disease. But it will not solve the problem, and those medication always come with side effects. If HOW you eat breakfast will help you lose weight and prevent diseases, why don’t you try?
Finally, eat dinner early. And eat right amount of dinner (500 calorie set meal is the right option!). If you eat dinner too late or eat a night snack, the pancreas will not release insulin smoothly. Therefore, blood sugar level doesn’t go down and stays at a high level all night.
Let’s cook 500 calories set meal. Make double so that you can eat for breakfast next day!
Main: Chinjaorosu (Pork with Bell Pepper and Bamboo Shoot)
Side 1: Asparagus and Egg Salad
Side 2: Mandarin Orange
Soup: Vegetable Borsht
Onigiri (Rice Ball)
Total 496 calories
All recipes are made for 2 servings. This printable recipe box will allow you to change the serving size to adjust the recipe.
Main: Chinjaorosu (Pork with Bell Pepper and Bamboo Shoot
About Bamboo Shoot
When you see bamboo shoots at the grocery store in Japan, it means that spring is here. Japanese people celebrate a new season with ingredients. However, fresh bamboo shoots are difficult to prepare.
Frist, you have to soak it in rice bran or rice water (water that was used to wash rice). This step is to remove the harshness from bamboo shoot. Then, cook over one hour and leave it overnight. Ok, we can skip those steps.
In reality, I have not seen fresh bamboo shoots in the US. Instead, you can purchase already cooked bamboo shoots in the can or vacuum sealed plastic bag in the Asian grocery store. I know that the texture is not as great as a fresh one, but when you live in Rome, do as Romans do!
Bamboo shoots are low in calories and great for diet. Bamboo shoots are rich in dietary fiber, vitamin B, vitamin E, and potassium. Bamboo shoots are great for any type of cooking.
Bamboo shoots are often used for a dish called Chinjaorosu. Chinjaorosu is a popular Chinese dish in Japan. Even kids who don’t like green bell pepper love it. Bamboo shoots give a volume to the dish. Therefore, you can use less meat, yet you satisfy with the dish!
Side 1: Asparagus and Egg Salad
Just like bamboo shoots, seeing fresh asparagus at the grocery store is the sign of spring. Asparagus has a unique component called aspartic acid. It helps to improve the metabolism. Also, it has detox effect. Just do not overcook, which will destroy the health benefits.
About Salad Dressing
Eating vegetables is good for slowing down blood sugar level. And adding good oil will work even more to prevent a blood sugar level spike. However, store bought salad dressing is not so good. Normally store bought dressing contains processed vegetable oil. It doesn’t benefit you.
Instead, why don’t you make quick and easy homemade salad dressing with good olive oil? Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil will improve intestinal flora when uncooked and prevents a blood sugar spike. Oleic acid in olive oil will promote insulin secretion. And it is easy to make!
Side 2: Mandarin Orange
I have a special childhood memory with mandarin oranges, called “mican” in Japanese. My mom’s hometown is famous for many types of citrus. And her house had a lot of citrus trees. After she moved to Tokyo to marry my dad, her relatives kept sending boxes of mandarin oranges every year. So I ate and ate lots of them. Maybe five or even more a day until my hands turned orange!
Cuties, Halo and other brands are now available in the US. I think that they are much sweeter than the ones that I used to eat. The Mandarin orange is easy to peel with your fingers. They are rich in dietary fiber and vitamin C. Mandarin orange is a good side dish for the 500 calories set meal.
Soup: Vegetable Borsht
Borsht is like miso soup in Russia. There are many varieties with different ingredients. Each family has their own recipe. There are no rules. Any soup becomes Borsht when beet is added.
Borsht is normally served with sour cream. But, I don’t have sour cream. Sour cream is made out of cream and plain yogurt. I think that plain yogurt works perfectly for Borsht.
Beets are becoming popular in Japan because of the enormous health benefits. Beets are known as “Drinking Blood”.
The root vegetable contains polyphenol, iron, potassium, calcium, dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamins. Talking about blood, the component called “NO”, that is nitric oxide, will help the blood flow smoothly. And, blood flow will help to improve metabolism.
It is true beets offer rich red color juice endlessly. When you steam or boil, it becomes sweet. No wonder they can make sugar from it. If you get beets with leaves, don’t toss the leaves. They are perfectly edible and nutritious. They taste like spinach. This is my no wasting policy!
Finally, it is a good idea to make extra soup to eat for the next day’s breakfast. The soup will prevent a blood sugar spike!
Onigiri (Rice Ball)
Japanese people love onigiri (rice ball). It is a basic part of bento so that you can carry and eat any place you want. Onigiri, was originated in Edo period (300 years ago). At that time people came up with the idea about the food that they can travel with. It was a simple version of rice ball. Sticky rice, salted plum inside, wrapped with dried seaweed. For me, a homemade rice ball is the best. However, any grocery store carries their own special rice balls. For example, each convince store chain competes with their original rice ball. Customers grab and go rice balls all day long.
Onigiri (rice ball) works great for people who want to avoid a blood sugar spike. Because rice is being kept cold, it reduces the starch in rice. This is how you make rice ball for 500 calories set meal.
1. Measure fresh steamed rice for 100g.
2. Place on plastic wrap while it’s still warm just like when you prepare to freeze rice.
3. Wrap and hold them as if you make a snow ball.
You can keep in the refrigerator overnight as long as the rice doesn’t get dried out. It is a good idea for breakfast and lunch for the next day. But remember, do not microwave the rice ball when you eat!
When you are ready to eat, unwrap the plastic wrap. Place a piece of nori (dried seaweed) around the rice ball. In this way, you can hold the rice ball without it sticking to your fingers. And you can enjoy the crispness of dried seaweed!