Breakfast like a King Lunch like Prince Dinner like a beggar
But what does a king eat for breakfast, if he is on a whole-foods plant-based diet? How does he get enough callories? How will he ensure sufficient protein, and complete protein (complete amino acid profile) intake? Is that enough?
What about feeding the brain with sufficient fatty acids? The brain is around 60% fat. How does this king make sure he consumes enough fat, correct fat, fat that is not dangerous for his arteries, heart and liver? How does this king ensure he eats enough essential minerals and electrolytes?
If this king knows how good it is to space meals far apart, and that he should not snack until lunch, then how does he make sure he will eat a meal that won't leave him craving food before his regularly scheduled lunch?
Well, here is what we ate for breakfast a few days ago. Let's analyze our meal, and see what we can learn.
Water - our mornings begin with water, or at least they should. We try to remember to drink plenty water on an empty stomach, and we stop drinking at least 30min before sitting down to eat. This time gap ensures that the water is fully absorbed, and that there is no liquid in our stomachs to dilute stomach enzymes and acids. We take no drinks with our meals, to ensure that our hydrochloric acid is as strong as needed for effective digestion. The faster food digests, the least amount of fermentation (rotting) in the stomach.
Pancakes with wholegrain flour (I forgot to make this one with multigrain. Combining grains like adding oats, etc., is a great way to ensure that you get a complete amino acid profile (which is just fancy words for a complete protein). To compensate, I added some savoury granola to the topping-options for our pancakes. It was delicious. Fruit - fresher the better - not too many different kinds in one meal. We include neutral fruit for savory options, and herbs would have been a great add-on to get some leafy greens into the meal, but I was too cold to go outside and harvest some from the garden. Seeds are an obligatory add-on to our breakfasts. We vary them, and often use a blend of ground seeds. They provide essential fatty acids (fats) and minerals, not to mention the great proteins. Seeds areu almost a free-food in our home. You can have as many as you feel like. Nuts - we use these in moderation, but they are great sources for protein, minerals and healthy fats. I try to vary the type of nut, but almonds get 1st prize for nutrition. Abigail would eat 1kg cashews in one meal if I let her, so I don't always make them available free-form. Milk - plant-based milk is a great way to make a breakfast fill all the gaps in the appetite as well as the nutrition breakdown. There is such a variety to choose from. We make sure that our milk is sugar free, preservative free and non-GMO. Coconut cream is an occasional treat and adds a calorie boost with various other benefits, and works well for a thicker toping, like for strawberries and cream. And for those who worry that plant-milk is too expensive, feel free to contact me for contact details of great sources for affordable plant-milks. Worship time - our breakfast begins with time spent reading the Bible. For us, there is no better way to begin a meal than in thanks to our Creator and Provider. This has become a special family time.
V a r i e t y
So of course pancakes are not an everyday breakfast for us. But we try to make the most of the morning king-meal. With some planning, a little preparation and a deliberate choice in stocking our pantry, we usually have a three-course breakfast, consisting of:
a fruit salad or fruit platter with seeds;
multigrain porridge with honey or dates to sweeten and topped with a plant-milk (and more seeds if preferred), and
home-made wholegrain bread (usually multigrain and/or sourdough) with nutbutter, olive patte, legume patte, neutral fruit like tomatoe and cucumber, and/or sugar free fruit preserves.
This formula lasts us until lunch which is always a minimum of 5 hours away from breakfast, to allow for complete digestion of breakfast before asking the stomach to do more work. During the hour before lunch we start feeling hungry (excellent sign that the stomach is empty, which is when the stomach muscles rest and rejuvinate to prepare for doing more work). This is when we maximize the opportunity to drink fluids on an empty stomach, which then absorb before adding any more food. Drinking clear liquids (no milk) at least 1 hour away from meal times, is the most healthy way to hydrate.
Are you ready to try it out?
This may seem like a crazy amount of mission for a daily breakfast, but I dare say you will love it if you tried it. Since I am preparing two meals a day, never cooking dinners in the evening and done with family feedings way before evening time, preparing for this kind of breakfast is not a mission any more than our old way of eating 3 meals a day.
I challenge you - try it. Pack it. Prove it.
I look forward to hearing some feedback from your attempts at eating breakfast like a king.
Meal planning!? Really? This is a topic for a testimony? Well, feel free to take a breath of relief. This is not a lecture or meant to tell you what to do in your life. I plan to share my own experiences, and only that. My personal choices, changes, and the effects they have had on me and my family.
So... what is my family meal schedule? Let me start off by stating that I was a snacking queen. Working over 270 hours per month for some years, and later being unemployed in a foreign country for 18 months... no matter how busy I was or how much time I had at home, I ate something all the time. For years I would eat something or nibble something every time I walked past food in an edible form. I tried to stock my kitchen with mostly healthy and fresh foods (according to what I knew at the time) and of course took this as free license to snack throughout the day. I was diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) over 10 years ago, and my ongoing symptoms of dizziness, bloating and frequent abdominal pains encouraged me to keep eating, feeling as though I need regular small samples of food rather than large meals. Of course I opted for regular snacks as well as large meals, and then accepted that I simply had symptoms that were here to stay for keeps.
In this article I will spare you the long details of my changed outlook, but you are welcome to view my personal testimony on YouTube at https://youtu.be/Pp9un7ef5S4 for more detail of why I ended up changing the way I lived.
Long story short, I learnt some new things. Turns out that the digestive tract, made up entirely of muscles (which I knew but somehow ignored), needs proper rest as much as any other muscle group. I totally understood the need for muscle rest. That ache in your calves or thighs when you try going for a run for the first time in years. The ache in your abs when you do sit-ups for the first time in months. The pain in your arm muscles when you carry your sleeping daughter for over an hour. Of course muscles get exhausted. And ultimately stop working. I have felt this countless times.... the quivering of muscles as they give in and fail to function any further.
Once I learned that my digestive tract muscles need rest just as much as any other muscle in my body, the penny dropped. I finally understood the value of regular, spaced meals and giving the entire digestive tract ample rest periods. And this is what we do now. As a family we make sure we space meals at the very least 4-5 hours apart (for fully plant-based meals). In between meals, we have completely stopped snacking. We drink clear fluids like herbal teas or water at least 1 hour away from a meal, and we allow enough time for food to digest fully, completely and without fermentation.
As a family (yes, including our 5 year old) we only eat two meals per day, and try to stick to regular meal times. We tried to squeeze three meals into a day, but that meant my little one ate shortly before bed, which I know is not ideal. So to ensure that we all go to sleep after our food has digested, we eat a very substantial breakfast, and slightly smaller late-lunch around 3pm. That way, our daughter has a gap between eating and her bed time, and my husband and I are good with just a hot drink at night. During the past almost-a-year of eating this way with only plant-based foods, we have all thrived, and my daughter has grown physically and mentally in ways that still astound us.
Now you may ask, "why does meal spacing really matter so much?". I will share more about the technical details later, but for now, I can tell you that for the first time in 20 years, I am bloating-free, dizzy-free, ache-free and totally transformed in energy levels. Yes, there are various factors involved in our family's transition. But if I could make one major suggestion to anyone who wants to know the most important place to start in renovating their health, I would suggest a start with meal schedules. Space your meals. Fill up your car's fuel tank in the beginning of the trip, rather at the end (i.e. breakfast must be bigger than supper), and give your guts a proper break between meals. This is golden rule number 1 for nutrition that supports true health. I have a gut-feeling that you will begin feeling better and better by the day.
Happy renovations everyone! It is a wonderful journey.