Every day, I have to run here and there to pre­pare break­fast for my hus­band and chil­dren be­cause I am too busy,” life­style blog­ger and pho­tog­ra­pher An­dra Alodita says of her day-to-day morn­ing predica­ment.

Her case is not an iso­lated one; it has be­come a global trend, es­pe­cially in big cities, where ever-in­creas­ing work de­mands and traf­fic jams have drained peo­ple of their time and en­ergy to pre­pare proper break­fasts. An­dra is quite lucky: She has fam­ily mem­bers and she has to pre­pare break­fast every day for them. Some peo­ple, who wake up late be­cause of ex­haus­tion or sim­ply be­cause they have to do many things around the clock, don’t have break­fast at all or de­lay the morn­ing fuel-up.

This is no won­der as In­done­sians who live in big cities spend an av­er­age of 11 hours a day at work and in traf­fic.

Bo­gor Agri­cul­ture In­sti­tute (IPB) nutri­tion pro­fes­sor Hardinsyah Rid­wan re­vealed data that said only 8.1 per­cent of In­done­sian adult women started their days with bal­anced and proper nutri­tion. He said that although no data on men’s break­fast habits were recorded yet, most sci­en­tists be­lieved men had far worse habits, since typ­i­cal men ne­glected proper self-care.

Some In­done­sians also have ex­treme life­styles. For in­stance, be­cause they have to head to work from home at 5 a.m. they ei­ther de­lay their break­fasts un­til late in the day or they have mul­ti­ple break­fasts, eat­ing some of the meals on the road and snack­ing again in the of­fice, re­sult­ing in ex­ces­sive calo­rie in­take.

This un­healthy life­style could cause some sub­tle but dis­turb­ing ef­fects on peo­ple’s day-to-day ac­tiv­i­ties, es­pe­cially if they work, some­thing that ex­pends lots of en­ergy.

There­fore, bal­anced and punc­tual break­fast to al­low ad­e­quate nu­tri­tional and en­ergy in­take is essen­tial. If you ne­glect it, you might ex­pe­ri­ence both short-term and long-term ef­fects that dis­rupt your daily ac­tiv­i­ties. In the short run, you might ex­pe­ri­ence hunger pangs, light headaches, de­clin­ing stamina, lack of mo­ti­va­tion to go to work, lethargy and lack of con­cen­tra­tion.

“If you’re a jour­nal­ist and you start to make lots of ty­pos, maybe it’s be­cause you haven’t had your break­fast yet,” Hardinsyah ex­plained.

If you make a nu­tri­tion­ally bal­anced and punc­tual break­fast your daily habit, how­ever, you can en­joy a num­ber of ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing be­ing more mo­ti­vated to go to work, as well as be­ing more en­er­getic and ef­fi­cient at work.

Most In­done­sians, un­for­tu­nately, are not yet aware of the im­por­tance of a proper break­fast. This is why the Health Min­istry makes it a pri­or­ity to in­form peo­ple that a bal­anced morn­ing fuel-up is essen­tial. Here are some guide­lines on how to do it in a healthy way, as sum­ma­rized from a sem­i­nar called “Whole­some and Bal­anced Break­fast for Pro­duc­tive on-the-go Life­styles”, or­ga­nized by the In­done­sia Nutri­tion­ist As­so­ci­a­tion and Mon­delèz In­done­sia to mark the launch of the Belvita break­fast bis­cuits in In­done­sia.

When we talk about bal­anced break­fast, we talk about the pro­por­tion in which the nutri­tion is con­sumed. It has to in­clude at least car­bo­hy­drates and an­tiox­i­dants from vi­ta­min C. It is ad­vised that peo­ple drink lots of min­eral wa­ter in the morn­ing.

In terms of car­bo­hy­drates, brown bread, which is made of less re­fined wheat flour, is con­sid­ered health­ier than white bread, which is made of more re­fined flour. Wheat is made of slow di­gestible starch, which ben­e­fits the health be­cause it sta­bi­lizes glu­cose lev­els in the blood, de­creases risks of heart dis­ease and main­tains body weight.

Sta­ble blood glu­cose also al­lows you to be sa­ti­ated for a much longer time, thereby de­creas­ing your ten­dency to eat ex­ces­sively, keep­ing un­wanted weight gain at bay.

“Fur­ther­more, the grain com­po­nents in­side wheat aren’t bro­ken down, the way the com­po­nents are in [more re­fined] flour. There­fore, wheat still re­tains the nu­tri­tional ben­e­fits of its grain com­po­nents,” Hardinsyah ex­plained.

Ac­cord­ing to An­dra, she com­ple­ments her daily break­fast with Belvita wheat bis­cuits as well as fruit slices to make sure car­bo­hy­drate and vi­ta­min in­take re­mains in check.

To avoid bore­dom, she pre­pares slices of dif­fer­ent fruits every day.

To make sure that your break­fast is nour­ish­ing, you also have to make sure the timing is right. This is when a reg­u­lar life rhythm comes into play.

“Ideally, peo­ple eat their break­fast around three hours be­fore they start their day-to­day ac­tiv­i­ties,” Hardinsyah said.

It is, how­ever, not enough. To make it re­ally work, you also have to main­tain the cy­cle of your day-to-day life.

“If you eat your din­ner too late, that could re­sult in you feel­ing full and not have any ap­petite for break­fast. Eat­ing around 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. is not a good habit,” Hardinsyah said.

The sleep cy­cle is also very im­por­tant. “If you don’t have high sleep qual­ity, it might re­sult in you feel­ing tired and lethar­gic in the morn­ing,” he added.

Another con­se­quence of not hav­ing high-qual­ity sleep is wak­ing up late in the morn­ing and rush­ing to con­duct your ac­tiv­i­ties, re­sult­ing in a missed break­fast or a rushed one.

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