What does a balanced and healthy breakfast look like?
A balanced breakfast will give you and your family the very best start to the day. You need a good mix of carbohydrates, fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals.
These are found in lots of foods, and you can choose pretty much what you like, as long as you pick from the different breakfast food groups: grains, fruit and dairy – and of course a glass of water.
One serving, of the right size from each of these food groups will set everyone up for the day ahead. Take a look below to find out why this is and for some examples of delicious balanced breakfasts.
Grain, fruit, dairy...
1. Start with grain
Grains like oats, corn, wheat and barley are good for you. Especially if they are whole. For a glorious breakfast that includes the goodness of grains, try a bowl of breakfast cereal made with whole grain or a slice of wholemeal toast.
Find out more about the difference between whole grain and refined grain.
2. Fill up on fruit
Breakfast is a great time to kick start your ‘5 fruits a day’. High in vitamins, minerals and fibre, fruit is a great addition to any breakfast. Try to eat fruit that is in season (it’s more sustainable, they have a better taste and also, it gives your child the chance to learn more about the beauty of the different seasons). With so much to choose from, it isn’t hard to make a fabulous feast out of fruit. And for the little ones, why not cut up some of their fruity favourites and add them to their yoghurt or cereal bowl? Yummy.
3. Delicious dairy
Rich in calcium for healthy teeth and bones, dairy foods are also a good source of protein and are great at breakfast time. Milk is good with cereal but why not add on a spoonful of yoghurt? And cheese isn’t just for sandwiches, it makes a great breakfast – try it on toast!
Need a bigger breakfast?Add some extra protein
If you’re feeling very hungry in the morning or will need a lot of energy, you could add some extra protein to your plate. Try a slice of ham, an egg or a small handful of almonds – your balanced breakfast will be complete and you’ll be ready to kick start your day!
"And water of course!"
Build your breakfast
Just pick one item from each food group
|Breakfast cereal made with whole grain||25-30 g||30-45 g||30-45 g|
|Whole grain muffin with jam (15g)||1 mini||1 piece||1 piece|
|Whole bread with butter (5g) and jam (15g)||40 g (1 slice)||80 g (2 slices)||80 g (2 slices)|
|Crispbread with butter (5g) and jam (15g)||2 pieces||4 pieces||3 pieces|
|Semi skimmed milk||125 ml||150-200 ml||125 ml|
|Hot chocolate (best to avoid having hot chocolate and jam in the same meal for a more balanced sugar intake)||200 ml of semi skimmed milk with 1 to 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder||250 ml of semi skimmed milk with 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder||200 ml of semi skimmed milk with 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder|
|Yoghurt||125 grams||200 grams||125 grams|
|Cottage cheese||14 grams||28 grams||14 grams|
|Fruits (seasonal fruit is better)||Children||Teenagers||Adults|
|Orange||1 piece||1 piece||1 piece|
|Banana||1 piece||1 piece||1 piece|
|Apple||1 piece||1 piece||1 piece|
|Kiwi||1 piece||1 piece||2 pieces|
|Optional: more proteins||Children||Teenagers||Adults|
|Almonds||5 to 8 nuts||10 nuts||5 to 8 nuts|
|Egg||1 small||1 medium||1 small|
|Ham||1 small||57 grams/2 slices||28 grams/1 slice|
|Cheese||14 grams||14 grams||14 grams|
|Peanut butter||1/2 tablespoon||1 tablespoon||1/2 tablespoon|
A glass of water :)
- JJonnalagadda SS, Harnack L, Liu RH et al (2011) Putting the whole grain puzzle together: health benefits associated with whole grains--summary of American Society for Nutrition 2010 Satellite Symposium. J Nutr. May;141(5)
- Learn more about the Health benefits of milk
- Bonnet F, Lepicard EM, Cathrin L et al (2012) French children start their school day with a hydration deficit. Ann Nutr Metab. 60(4):257-63.Assael BM, Cipolli M, Meneghelli I et al (2012) Italian Children Go to School with a Hydration Deficit. J Nutr Disorders Ther. 2:3.Barker M, Benefer M, Russell J et al (2012) Hydration Deficit After Breakfast Intake Among British. The FASEB Journal, 26: lb 395.Stookey JD, Brass B, Holliday A et al (2012) What is the cell hydration status of healthy children in the USA? Preliminary data on urine osmolality and water intake. Public Health Nutr. Nov;15(11):2148-56
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As well as being a healthy choice for people who want to reduce the amount of gluten in their diet, or have coeliac disease or a gluten intolerance, Gluten Free Corn Flakes are fortified with B-vitamins, folic acid and iron
It’s too early to say. The science in this area is still emerging. There is evidence that low GI foods take longer to digest and help you feel satisfied for longer, but none that you’ll eat fewer calories at the next meal.
Not yet, but we will keep listening and responding to people’s needs.
The serving sizes mentioned on breakfast cereals can slightly differ, mainly due to differences in product density. Beyond its nutrients density, it’s also important for the portion size to suit the average cereal bowl. Some types of breakfast cereals, such as mueslis or granolas, are denser than traditional flakes; so a 30 g serving could look tiny and unrealistic in a bowl – that's why we use 45 g as a reference. These different serving sizes have been defined by the European cereals trade association and consistently applied by all industry members in Europe.
No. Even though some foods made with whole grain have a high GI, you can still benefit by including them in a healthy, balanced diet. Eating lots of whole grain can be good for the heart, even if the GI of the food is high. The whole population can benefit from eating more whole grain; the effect of low GI foods is still not clear.