Breakfast is of course the most important meal of the day, and I have found that it is EVEN more important when you are completely exhausted- whether that be from just being run down in general, or especially, if like me, you happen to suffer from an energetic illness such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/M.E, Fibromyalgia, or Candida Albicans etc.
Over the course of my healing journey I have learned that in order to best support my body it is essential for me to eat a diet high in protein and fat, and very low in sugar (even in natural occurring sugars such as those in grains and fruit.) I follow a Paleo or Weston A. Price based diet which is based upon eating grass fed meats and produce, wild fish, nuts and seeds, oils and healthy fats, and lots and lots of vegetables and a small amount of fruit every now and again. I avoid all grains and sugars.
In general if I were to eat sugar (meaning not just refined sugar, but also all sugar substitutes such as honey, agave etc, as well as grains or fruit) for breakfast I would have a hyperglycemic meltdown very shortly after and my entire day would be thrown off. For someone who is energetically challenged protein is absolutely essential with all meals, but especially so in the morning.The human body can only tolerate 5g of sugar at any one time (about 4/5 of a teaspoon), and people with energetic issues are widely acknowledged to be even more sensitive to sugar than others. Sugar is the most important thing to avoid in order to eat to sustain and strengthen your body. For me, now that I am further along my healing journey and my energy levels are much more stable, occasionally I do eat fruit, but if I do, I make sure steer well clear of it until after lunch (the only exception to that rule would be a few berries with my breakfast, as these are incredibly low GI -Glycaemic Index– but this would only be on a day where I already felt my energy levels were completely stable and would be with a high protein accompaniment). When my illness was at its most severe I had to avoid all sugars, including all fruit and even all root vegetables, for an entire year. The amount of fruit sugar you can tolerate will depend on the severity of your energetic issues and if you observe your reactions closely over a prolonged period your body will let you know just how much naturally occurring sugar it is able to tolerate before it verges into hyperglycaemic territory (it may be FAR lower than you would have originally thought). As a general rule of thumb, avoiding fruit until after lunchtime is a good move, and when you do eat fruits, it is best to make sure to choose those that are lowest on the Glycaemic Index, such as berries/green apples and prunes, as opposed to those that are very high- e.g. bananas, grapes and most other dried fruits such as dates and raisins.
As a society we continue to mistakenly ‘fuel’ ourselves up in the morning with breakfast cereals (and I don’t just mean the sugary ones- this includes porridge oats, even gluten free, and even boutique cereals made from so-called healthy grains such as buckwheat, quinoa or millet), breads, pastries, fruit juices, and of course caffeine (which along with sugar is perhaps the most important thing to eliminate from your diet if you are suffering from an energetic illness. Even more so than sugar, caffeine is the worst thing for the adrenal glands, which are the powerhouses of energy in the body. Try Tulsi Tea, or Liquorice tea instead- both are naturally energising). Sugar and caffeine may feel like they give us a ‘boost’ in the short term, but in the long term they are only increasing inflammation in the body, and doing A LOT of damage while they’re at it.
So if we can’t eat toast, cereal, or fruit for breakfast-WHAT ON EARTH CAN WE EAT?
Eggs, eggs, eggs, eggs, eggs and MORE Eggs.
I have found that eating eggs (a brilliant source of protein, healthy saturated fats and high in Omega 3) for breakfast gives me energy like nothing else. Far from the age old adage that you should only eat 2 eggs a week in order to watch your cholesterol, we can in fact eat a dozen eggs a week without it detrimentally affecting our health whatsoever. I eat a dozen eggs most weeks, and since I started my health has improved drastically. Sugar is the enemy, not fat, and not even saturated fat, such as that we find in eggs, butter, cheese, milk and coconut oil and good quality meats. These are the good fats, it’s the vegetable oils and margarines we need to be worried about. Yes, so depending on what you make sometimes it takes slightly longer to make eggs in the morning, but in fact, scrambling a few eggs in a pan with coconut oil and a few chopped spring onions takes seconds- less time than preparing a bowl of breakfast cereal.
I eat my scrambled eggs with spring onions mixed in, alongside things like a whole avocado (excellent source of healthy fat) mashed with lime juice, pink himalayan or celtic sea salt and pepper, some rocket or lettuce on the side. And if I am feeling like I need a really good, grounding breakfast when my energy is low, I’ll add to that a flaxseed roll, which are completely grain free.
Flaxseed Rolls (the ‘breadiest’ grain free bake I’ve ever come across)
8 small rolls (or you could bake in a baking-parchment lined loaf tin and slice as bread)
250g Flaxseed (whole or ground- you can use either- whole will make a textured granary bread roll, milled or ground will make a smooth roll, akin to wholemeal)
80g Ground Almonds
50g Coconut Oil (or you can use butter if you can tolerate dairy)
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt (good quality- Pink Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt)
(Optional) – 1 tsp oregano, or fennel seeds or caraway seeds, black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius.
Put the coconut oil in a small oven-proof dish and pop it in the oven for 5 mins or so, just so it is almost liquid.
Add all the other ingredients to a food processor (and the coconut oil once it is closer to a liquid state) and blend until smooth.
Once blended leave it for a few minutes, to allow the mixture to thicken, and then blend again.
Grease a baking tray with coconut oil/or butter
Divide up the mixture into well spaced blobs on the tray. 4 for large rolls, 6 for medium, 8 for small.
(N.B. If you are using whole flaxseed and not ground the mixture will be much runnier, don’t worry about this, they will turn out great, but divide the mixture into 4 or 6, and not 8, as the loose consistency means they will be shallower.)
If you are using ground flaxseed the mixture will hold together better and so you can make 8 easily.
Both are good, often I prefer to use the whole flaxseeds, the end result is densely packed with seeds and has a lot of texture. Also the roughage that they provide are quite possibly the best thing if you are experiencing sluggish digestion.
Wet the back of a spoon and smooth out the dollops into roll shapes. They will not really rise so bear this in mind when you are shaping them.
Bake for up to 45 mins, until golden brown on top and springy.
Cool on a wire rack.
Cut in half, like you would a roll. These are very filling. If I make a batch of 4 often I will cut each roll in half and eat a half at a sitting and freeze all the other 1/2 portions individually. They can be popped in the toaster from frozen but they won’t take as long to toast as frozen bread.
Other good breakfast options with a flaxseed roll would be having Avocado Toast, with a whole mashed avocado with lime juice, salt and pepper on top. (But if your energy is REALLY low, best to throw some eggs on there too). Or (unless you are in recovery from Candida, if which you should avoid them) why not fry up some mushrooms in some butter, ghee or coconut oil, with parsely and garlic and have that on your toasted roll with some grated cheese of your choice. Or if you are really in a rush then a toasted flaxseed roll with almond butter, or another good quality nut or seed butter.
More ways with Eggs….
Make an Omelette:
Melt some coconut oil or butter in a pan (these good quality saturated fats are much better for you than unsaturated fats such as vegetable or sunflower oils, or oils such as olive that should not be used when cooking at high temperatures.) Throw in onions, or spring onion, mushrooms, bacon, cheese, tomatoes, courgette, peas, chorizo, some herbs and spices, mixed herbs, parsley…smoked paprika, chilli, whatever you have lying around.
Whisk together some eggs. If I am feeling very low on energy 3 eggs is best, 2 if you’re relatively stable.
Griddled Eggs with Courgette and Onion
Serves 1: 2 Eggs, 1 courgette, 1 onion, 1 tsp coconut oil, 1 crushed garlic clove, salt and pepper, green salad and sauekraut to serve.
This is my favourite breakfast. It doesn’t look much, but it tastes amazing. And it takes under 10 minutes.
Finely slice the onion, and grate the courgette and finely chop or mince a clove of garlic. Fry the onion in a tsp of coconut oil until softened, add the courgette and continue to fry for a few minutes until beginning to turn slightly golden. Stir in the garlic. Make 2 indentations in the mixture and crack 2 eggs into the pan, one into each indentation. sprinkle everything with salt and pepper. Fry the eggs on one side for a minute, and turn over, giving them a few seconds on the other so that the yolks are still runny. Plate up and serve with some greens, and sauerkraut (I ALWAYS eat this with sauerkraut, it is a winning combination).
Traditional ‘Full'<insert nationality here> Breakfasts
I know we’ve been conditioned to think that breakfasts made up of eggs, sausages and bacon etc. are incredibly bad for us, but actually, this is SO far from the truth. A breakfast which is sugar free and is made from good quality ingredients and cooked in healthy fats (such as coconut oil or butter, or ghee) is completely healthy, and will give you energy like nothing else.
So make an epic breakfast when you need to: Eggs (here they are cooked as above, but in onions that have been caramelised in coconut oil and then seasoned with salt and pepper and drizzled with a mixture of hemp oil and za’tar), good quality bacon, good quality sausages (so we’re talking organic, grass fed, grain free) grilled mushrooms and tomatoes, green leaves, avocado, flaxseed rolls. If you can tolerate the nightshade family well you could make it mexican by cracking some eggs into a tomato based sauce flavoured with garlic, smoked paprika and adding in peppers, courgette, chorizo, manchego, coriander- whatever! Get inventive. Have you had Kippers in a while? Or smoked fish? Both excellent protein rich breakfast options. Sometimes we all need an epic breakfast, especially when energy is incredibly low, or if you know you are going to do something which will be a big energy expenditure that day.
And when you want to make a particularly indulgent breakfast that is in-keeping with all the rules, here’s a great recipe for Eggs with Braised Leeks, Za’tar, Spinach and Feta, which is absolutely delicious. One for the weekend maybe. (In general though, I don’t eat spinach with my eggs, or anything else iron rich, such as steak, as spinach inhibits the uptake of iron in the body, so best to eat iron rich foods with other greens such as salad leaves, cabbage or kale.
Et voila! I always accompany my eggs with some green salad (if there is no green stuff with a meal it’s not a complete meal in my opinion!) and also whenever I eat eggs I accompany it with a good quality sauerkraut. Make your own (but you have to be patient as it will need at least a month to ferment) or buy it online here or in good quality health food shops. It has to be raw and this enzyme rich superfood is packed with trillions of good bacteria which will help to rebalance your gut flora (an imbalanced gut flora is widely known to be the underlying cause of most, if not all energetic illnesses). For these reasons I also make sure to eat other foods naturally high in probiotics such as yoghurt and kefir, again make your own (this will only take 24-48 hours) you can buy the grains to start you off here, and I also take a good quality probiotic supplement every day before breakfast. I credit probiotics as playing an absolutely enormous role in my recovery from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Are you lactose intolerant? Well, I was COMPLETELY lactose intolerant for over a decade, and after rebalancing my gut bacteria with sauerkraut and probiotics I can now not only eat goats and sheeps milk products with ease, but can also tolerate cow’s yogurt and cheese, and even milk, cream and butter with the assistance of some digestive enzymes, to me this has been a miracle!
And when you don’t want to eat eggs…
When my energy levels are fairly stable I like to eat:
Yoghurt with berries, nuts and seeds.
I eat a good sized bowl of full-fat yoghurt (low fat yoghurt is a tiny crime against humanity, fat is absolutely integral to good dietary health), I mix in a handful of frozen berries (blueberries and raspberries are my favourites, or maybe blackberries, strawberries, red currants, blackcurrants or cherries). Of course, you can use fresh berries, excellent in the height of Summer, but not always practical, whereas frozen berries are just as fresh and good quality for money when they are not in season.
Add to this 2-3 tbsp chia seeds (this is the essential protein, a perfect ratio of Omega 3, 6 and 9), Give it a good mix. The berries will start to defrost and the chia seeds will swell up in the yoghurt and sprinkle on top a few walnuts broken up into little pieces (or other nut of your choice), some ground flaxseed, and cinnamon.
Instead of chia seeds in this another thing to do would be to make a nut & seed mix where you blend together handfuls of each of your favourite nuts and seeds e.g. almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and I always add desiccated coconut and cinnamon to this, in a food processor until you have a powder, and have this on top of your yoghurt and berries, which is also high in fat and protein.
If I need to leave the house very early in the morning I’ll make a smoothie to take with me. I will only have a smoothie for breakfast if my energy levels are already stable.
blend: 1 Avocado, a small handful of frozen berries (or if you can tolerate it, 1/2 or a whole green apple- which will make this smoothie really green, otherwise it will be a bit sludgy, tasty sludge though). Add to this a handful of spinach, a couple of tbsps of chia seeds (for protein), top up with a mix of unsweetened almond milk and filtered water and finally add and some superfood powders of your choice: I add a scoop of Dr Mercola’s Organic Greens Powder which is packed full of alkalising grasses and algaes, a tbsp of Maca powder, a nutrient dense adaptogenic Peruvian herb which is known for its highly energising properties, and maybe even a heaped tsp of Raw Cacao powder which is also very energising and of course, gives the smoothie a taste of chocolate. Sometimes I also add a couple of drops of Stevia , the best sugar substitute, which is completely natural, when in a form like the liquid drops, as opposed to highly processed granulated varieties like Truvia, etc. and although is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar it does not register on the GI index.
I also make Chia Seed Bowls…
Ingredients for one portion:
3 heaped tbsp Chia Seeds
250 ml of almond milk (unsweetened) – or cow’s milk if you can tolerate it, always go for full fat, and raw unpasturised if you can.
1 carrot (grated) – or a couple of sticks of celery (chopped) if you are in recovery from Candida, or in general need to be lower GI, I do!
2-3 prunes, chopped (these are surprisingly low GI and as well as tasting great are excellent for your digestion).
Sprinkle of some of or all of: Pumpkin seeds/Ground Almonds/Ground Flaxseed/Walnuts broken up into a few pieces/toasted sunflower seeds/cinnamon and nutmeg.
1 heaped tbsp tahini drizzled over the top.
If eating for breakfast the next day: the night before put the 3 tbsp Chia Seeds into an empty jam jar, add the almond milk, if you think it needs a bit more liquid add a little more milk or water. Put on the lid and give it a good shake. Put in the fridge for the seeds to swell overnight.
N.B. Even if you soak the Chia Seeds for 30 mins they will still swell, so you can do this and eat it quicker, but the longer they have to soak, the better.
Once your Chia Seeds are like tasty frogspawn, mix and empty into a bowl.
If you want to eat it hot (hot Chia porridge is nice on a cold day) then warm in a pan or pop in the microwave.
Grate your carrot or chop your celery and pop it on top.
Then put all your yummy additions on the top: pumpkin seeds/prunes/broken walnuts/ground almonds/sunflower seeds/flaxseed/a good dusting of cinnamon and nutmeg, and finally drizzle with a big dollop of tahini, yum, enjoy!
Other options with Chia Seed Porridge:
Eat with some berries and dessicated coconut on top. If you can handle the sugar grate a green apple on top and sprinkle with seeds, cinnamon and tahini. Stir in a heaped tsp of raw cacao powder (like co co pops, but for adults, and insanely healthy).
And that’s how to give your tired body the best possible start to the day, and as the days go on, the best possible chance at healing. Food is medicine.