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How To Kick Your Thyroid’s Ass: Redefining Breakfast

Post Published: 28 March 2010
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Category: Column, How To Kick Your Thyroid's Ass, thyroid nutrition and health column
This post currently has 41 responses. Leave a comment

I’ve never been interested in counting calories or paying attention to fat content, and I especially find portion control rather oppressive.   I’d much rather eat foods that I can eat alot of, without having to worry about weight gain.   For me, this means low-glycemic, real, whole foods that are free of endocrine-disrupting chemicals and synthetic flavorings.   And it seems it is especially hard to find such healthy foods at the breakfast table.   Our culture eats high-carbohydrate, high-sugar products for the first meal of the day, which can be a set-up for weight gain and thyroid slowing.   Last week, I exposed two hidden sources of soy at your breakfast table, and in following that theme, today I’m exposing breakfast for the health hazard that it often is.   In order to begin the day with a healthy start, we need to redefine breakfast.

Our cultural expectations and traditions are the real culprit here — after all, in many other countries and cultures around the world, eating savory, nutrient-dense whole foods for breakfast is common practice, and there is no sign of processed bread products, refined flours, pastries, donuts, waffles and pancakes, sugared cereals, french toast, fruit smoothies, frappuccinos, over-sweetened yogurts, coffee cake, muffins, jams, syrups, juices, and sweetened coffees and teas.   These grain products and sugary treats often offer little-to-no nutritional value, spike blood sugar, and compromise gut health, leaving us sleepy and irritable, and certainly not thriving.

To redefine breakfast, we first have to break our emotional and cultural ties to the idea that only certain foods are allowed to be eaten at certain times of day.   After all, they have no biological basis — they are simply a product of our society and heritage(s) (and also, most likely, marketing by the food industry).   Once we’ve granted ourselves permission to eat “weird” or “uncommon” dishes first thing in the morning, our palates and nutritional options are suddenly opened to a world of tasty meals (ie: if the thought of “dinner foods” for breakfast scares you, just know that you do get used to these savory foods and find them pleasant).   In order to convince you further, note that I, myself, have and do eat unconventional foods for breakfast because, given my immunity battles with (candida) infection, I simply cannot afford to eat high glycemic foods.   At first it felt strange, but now, it’s second nature, and because I don’t feel weighed down by my breakfast, I enjoy eating this way much more.

To get an idea about savory, nourishing breakfasts, consider Japan: “…unlike the U.S. breakfast, traditional Japanese-style breakfast options mirror what is eaten at other meals and may include items such as steamed rice, miso soup, tsukudani, which are small fish or seaweed served with soy sauce and mirin, sugar, raw or grilled eggs, grilled fish such as dried horse mackerel…... Or, how about Egypt: “Typically eaten with bread in the morning hours, the traditional Egyptian ful medames breakfast consists of slow-cooked fava beans (partially or completely mashed) served with olive oil, chopped parsley, onion, garlic and lemon juice…,   Morocco?: “Moroccan tagine [is] a slow-cooked stew consisting of lamb and a variety of traditional herbs and seasonings “is named after the clay pot in which it’s cooked. The leftovers are often eaten for breakfast the following day…

A great way to phase out alot of those high-carb, enriched flour, sugary sweet breakfast foods is to eat dinner leftovers the next morning.   High-quality (organic and/or pastured whenever possible) animal products are filling and low-glycemic.   Lately, I’ve been making my own full-fat unsweetened coconut* milk yogurt, which tastes more like sour cream than a fruity yogurt, and adding a little sea salt or organic instant coffee granules for flavor (*note: coconut is thyroid-stimulating).   Eating vegetables or soups is another great segue into healthier mornings.   If the thought of cold raw veggies first thing in the morning turns your stomach, then try warming last night’s soup, and maybe top with an egg.   Or, how about a sprouted corn tortilla fried until crispy in a healthy oil (I would always suggest coconut oil, which has a high heat-point) and stuffed with sautéed veggies, guacamole, and herbs?,   And while this may too much for some to handle, I’ve even eaten fish for breakfast and thought nothing of it (good food is good any time of the day).

Is breakfast a health hang-up for you?,   Do you get lost or tempted first thing in the morning, and haven’t found a healthy solution for breakfast?,   Or, if not, what tips and suggestions have you found helpful for finding a healthy morning meal?

For more pictures and descriptions of breakfasts around the world, click here.

Until Next Week,

Love Always,

Liz

Email questions and comments to Liz@DearThyroid.ORG; I’d love to chat.

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41 Responses to “How To Kick Your Thyroid’s Ass: Redefining Breakfast

  1. Hypogirl says:

    Great post Liz! I am eager myself to find out what people eat for Breakfast. It is my most troublesome meal of the day. Mainly for all your suggestions above. I have gone away from the norm of Bread or cereal – but still find myself having a hard time eating a chicken breast for breakfast. Someone posted on my FB fan page that they make their own homemade Larabars. I am going to try this in the next few weeks or so to try to make them myself. I will let you know how they come out.

    Bring on the suggestions – I am ready with my pencil!

    • Nancy says:

      I have always loved leftovers for breakfast- I was always doing my own thing. Have been eating this way since I was a little girl. If not that- an omelet with meat and vegetables, or just vegetables. I have just started cooking with virgin coconut oil and I like it too! I hope that coconut stimulates my thyroid- it could use it!

  2. vicki says:

    Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day…and my largest (maybe that’s why it’s my fav!). I usually start the day with one organic egg mixed with 2-3 egg whites. I’ll stir in some ham, fresh veggies and maybe some cheese. Occasionally, I’ll do plain oatmeal with fruit, and maybe a bit of cinnamon.
    I find that eating a good high protein breakfast stops that “carb crash” a few hours later, with me searching for something else to eat!

  3. Very interesting post, Liz. It really does blow my mind what the typical American diner breakfast consists of. In general, I find that many products you buy in American supermarkets have too many added sugars/preservatives to cater for people’s tastes – it seems many Americans like it sweeter than Europeans. I do find that it is a lot easier to shop for healthy stuff here in Europe. I thought the Egyptian ful medames sounded very yummy – it actually sounds quite similar to a Greek mezedes/appetiser I have tried and lemon juice and olive oil go very well together. I enjoy scrambled eggs/omelette with vegetables for breakfast. I also enjoy oatmeal, yogurt and fruit. These are the things my tastebuds naturally gravitate to, but perhaps because eating too many breads/pastries tends to cause carb crashes as Vicki mentioned above. I also enjoy fish – it’s very common here in European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands and you’ll also find it in the UK in the form of Scottish kippers.

  4. Liz says:

    Thanks Hypogirl! Yes, it does take some getting used to. What if you did an omelet with chicken? I’ve never had one myself, but that’s just off the top of my head. 🙂 Or, homemade chicken soup for breakfast actually sounds yummy and warming.

    Can’t wait to see everyone’s suggestions as well!!

  5. Liz says:

    Vicki, that sounds delicious! Good point about the carb crash. I feel the exact same way. I HATE that sleepy, irritable feeling I get after eating so many carbs. I much prefer something lighter to start the day.

  6. Liz says:

    Oh wow, Sarah, so you have firsthand experience with this — that is, the societal norms around food choice. That’s great that you’ve recognized this before, how American foods are sweeter and whatnot. And yeah, don’t the other nation’s foods sound so much yummier? I’d much prefer the fava beans and lemon and garlic than a cold bowl of cereal.

  7. Sara Broers says:

    Nice post~ I will keep to my warm bowl of oatmeal- works for me. Intriguing ideas here, that is for sure…….

  8. Liz Schau says:

    Thanks Sara! 🙂

  9. thy_r88gous says:

    great read liz. i am with you i think good food is good any time if day. and i have always been drawn more toward savory for breakfast than sweet. with braekfast items such as omlets especially veggie or chilli, fried potatoes, sausages, virgin bloody marys, steak and eggs etc. these are not always the best for your waist line but….. they are still good and if you use healthy alternatives like organic chicken sausage, organic eggs, veggies etc then i say its not so bad. now if u will excuse me im hungry. im thinking i will make fried potatoes, ( left over baked) with garlic, onions, red and green bell peppers. sea salt fresh ground black pepper olive oil and organic cheddar cheese on top. chives for garnish. (u could add bulk sausage in this and it would be super filling. i would but mine is frozen) and thats it but thats alot and it will feed all the people in my house fairly cheap. today there is 6 of us! ahh i better hury!

  10. thy_r88gous says:

    oh yeah forgot to tell u im making eggs too. (organic from grandpas farm) because all those potatoes (major carbs) would cause us not to enjoy this beautiful Sunday in northern cali.

  11. Liz says:

    thy_r88gous, that all sounds absolutely delicious! Loving the savory breakfast ideas! Seems like everyone has it figured out. Love that 🙂 I actually had some veggie chili topped with my homemade coconut yogurt for breakfast today. So yummy and tangy

  12. “I’d much rather eat foods that I can eat alot of, without having to worry about weight gain” – YES!

    What to order in a restaurant is a hard question. First, go in there with a mentality that no matter what, it probably won’t be healthy (even the water is from tap).

    On Friday, I went to lunch w/ a friend and ordered a Chipotle Shrimp Salad. That thing was unhealthy no matter what you use to define healthy (799 calories, corn kernels and corn chip strips are high glycemic, a whole avocado – high fat content). Yet, it was probably one of the “healthiest” options they had.

    I find places like IHOP almost impossible to eat at. Everything is microwaved, juice is from concentrate, no whole wheat anything, etc. I usually order the healthiest option on the menu and end up picking half of the stuff off. 🙁 but never get refund.

  13. Erin says:

    For the most part, I make a protein shake for breakfast. It’s 2 scoops of the powder mixed with 10 oz. of skim milk. I also add a banana and whatever berries I have on hand, and then blend together.

    I occasionally have whole wheat toast with 1 tbs. of plain greek yogurt and some pistacios. Yum! (I do get tired of the protein shakes and need some variety) I also make scrambled eggs sometimes.

  14. Ah… Everyone is talking about what they eat at home… not at the restaurant.

    I was asked to share my diet by a few friends & some twitter followers. Here’s it is

    When I get sidetracked and return to a healthy food regimen I log everything for the first few weeks until I have developed the habit again. The log helps me prepare the next day’s food based on types of foods I’ve eaten (always shooting for variety). I do have a few no-no’s in the following posts, but I do comment on them and do my best to balance them out.

    grrr.. nevermind. I can’t post links but they’re on kevinharper.com.

  15. Liz says:

    Glyconutrients, very true — eating out is really difficult for those on a specific (lifestyle) diet. I have a few places I’ll go when people want to eat out, but otherwise, I feel like my immune system is still weak and struggling for survival so I’ll opt out if we can’t go somewhere I know I’ll be avoiding those things my body doesn’t like. Inconvenient, but true

  16. Liz says:

    Erin, the yogurt and pistachios sounds delicious! Love pistachios

  17. I’ll share this homemade recipe in case you never make it to my personal site.

    Preheat pan on medium
    Add salsa (fresh, homemade is best – obviously)
    Spread so that it covers the whole pan and bring to a boil
    Stir a little bit and let boil again
    Add a very little amount of water and let boil again
    Crack and add eggs (2 – 3)
    Cover for 5 – 10 minutes

    No oil or salt needed. The salsa gives the eggs an AWESOME taste. The salsa does get just a tiny bit hotter because it contains less water. It’s by far one of my favorite breakfasts and what I have whenever there is fresh homemade salsa. Quick to make, too.

    Kevin :: Glyco Trainer
    On Twitter: @glycotrainer
    Web Site: glycotrainer.com

  18. Liz says:

    Kevin, sounds delicious. I’ve actually never had eggs and salsa… I know people love it, so popular. Thanks for this recipe. Sounds so easy and filling!

  19. amy says:

    Great article! B/c I eat grain free already my breakfast is usually pretty protein dense. I eat a lot of eggs. If we have leftover meat and veggies, I will make scrambled eggs w/them. Lately, b/c of my pregnancy, I have been craving bready things. I have been experimenting w/ coconut flour. I have made wonderful blueberry muffins(honey as a sweetener)and pancakes. B/c coconut flour needs so much moisture they have a lot of eggs in them and therefor more protein. I have been tempted and gave in w/the sweetened yogurts the last week. It just tastes so yummy to me. But, yesterday bought whole milk yogurt and I like to eat that w/a bit of honey and cinnamon(great for insulin related problems). My Dr. has told me it is best to start the day of w/ protein and eat carby foods later in the day. I am setting myself up for a better day by making wise fueling choices in the morning.

  20. HD inOregon says:

    Very interesting and educational article. Thanks, Liz!

    We had some wonderful breakfasts on our visit to Japan. Usually a bit broiled fish, always some rice, a bit of some pickles (they have them with every meal), and a miso soup (yes, there was some tofu in it). And a bit of fruit, often pieces of Japanese pears. – I really liked the change from the usual “Western” offerings.

    HD

  21. Marie says:

    I eat all whole foods religiously, but still have to watch my food intake. While I’ve always bristled at counting calories, it has recently dawned on me that as my I leave my twenties in the rear view mirror, measuring my food and monitoring portion size is the only way that I can avoid being on the chunky side. I keep a food diary at myfitnesspal.com, which has a database of most foods and their calories and some nutritional content. For purposes of health and sanity, it is important that I never feel hungry, so I’ve found a place where I can limit food intake but avoid getting weak and shaky. This is around 1500 to 1600 calories a day and more on days that I exercise. If I push beyond that then inevitably I start gaining weight again. Honestly though, I do find it hard to believe that I can stay ten pounds overweight when the bulk of my diet consist of fruit and veggies…*sigh*

    As for breakfast food, I eat a boiled egg and “Lydia’s Grainless Apple Cereal” with almond milk, blueberries and raspberries. Sometimes I’ll have some smoked salmon. Mid morning I’ll have half a banana or an apple. It kind of feels like the conventional breakfast but modified, so I get the best of both worlds. Plus, it’s a very filling and delicious breakfast.

  22. amy says:

    Marie, that “cereal” sounds so good! I have already looked it up and I think I will buy some! Since being pregnant I have craved cereal but cannot eat it b/c I am grain free. I am definitely going to give it a try! Excited to try that!

  23. Liz says:

    Marie, sorry to hear you still have to watch portions and calories even on a whole food diet. The smoked salmon for breakfast sounds delicious… I’m going to have to give that a try for sure. Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

  24. Liz says:

    HD,

    That’s interesting that you mention pickles at every meal. Lately I’ve gotten into (raw) fermenting and pickling. I read up and realized that traditional cultures eat probiotic foods at EVERY meal — like the pickles you mentioned in Japan. I think this is a HUGE component lacking from our Western diets — there is no life that we’re ingesting, to aide in digestion. So I’ve been making a point to eat cultured veggies, or the coconut milk yogurt that I made every time I eat. Even condiments in traditional cultures are raw fermented, leaving the beneficial bacteria intact. Our condiments here, however, are pasteurized and killed of all good bacteria. Really interesting to me. Think it’s a big piece of the dietary puzzle…

  25. Liz says:

    Amy, first of all — did I know you were pregnant?? I don’t know!! In any case, CONGRATULATIONS!!! So happy for you!! Great suggestion with the coconut flour… I LOVE LOVE LOVE coconut. It is truly a superfood in my book. 🙂

  26. Christina says:

    Dr. Andrew Weil says that we need to change our thinking on breakfast foods.. He eats fish, asparagus and something else very dinner-y for breakfast. It weirded me out at first but I can see how we have fallen into this concept of sweets, eggs and a meat for breakfast. He eats along the lines of eat like a king for Breakfast, a prince for lunch and a pauper for dinner.

  27. Christina says:

    Dr. Andrew Weil says that we need to change our thinking on breakfast foods.. He eats fish, asparagus and something else very dinner-y for breakfast. It weirded me out at first but I can see how we have fallen into this concept of sweets, eggs and a meat for breakfast. He eats along the lines of eat like a king for Breakfast, a prince for lunch and a pauper for dinner.

  28. Liz says:

    Thanks Christina! I’m not a big fan of Dr. Weil myself, but that sounds like a healthy breakfast that he eats. It also makes sense to get in good fuel in the morning, versus late at night

  29. Marie says:

    Amy, I’m glad to be of help. They also have “Lydia’s Berry Good Cereal” with flax and coconut. Delicious! All of her products are grain free, organic and raw.

    http://www.lydiasorganics.com/product_list.html

  30. Erin B. says:

    Leftovers and soup are some of my breakfast favorites! It’s hard for me to get enough protein in my day, but eating nuts helps. When I need a filling snack or am not very hungry for breakfast, some almonds and an apple still sound pretty good-helps with the craving for sweets too.

  31. Marie says:

    Oops, I checked what I said about all of her products being grain free and that’s not the case. One of her products, the Green Powder, has barely. Also, some stuff contains sprouted quinoa, which I recently learned is not a grain, but it seems to effect me similarly to the way that grains do. Anyway, most of her stuff is accessible to grain intolerant, which is quite unusual!

  32. Cate says:

    I’m a big fan of soup for breakfast: white bean soup, lentil soup, veggie soup…

  33. Liz says:

    Thanks for reading and commenting, Cate! Seems like alot of people are in on the soup consensus. I have to agree — filling, delicious, and nutritious!! 🙂

  34. Liz says:

    Erin, almonds and an apple sounds delicious!

  35. Hypogirl says:

    Thought I’d share this: walking by my gym desk after my morning workout (around 7AM) and what do I see on the front counter of the gym? Someone was eating a COBB salad at 7AM! Another good idea for a breakfast item!

  36. Alexia says:

    I usually have lunch for breakfast.. today.. some chicken, microgreens, parsley and a bit of olive oil…

  37. CindiS says:

    Well first, it’s been wonderful to actually wake up and be hungry within the first hour. When undiagnosed thyroid (and adrenal), I could go hours and never eat. In fact hubby would always call at lunchtime just to see if I’d eaten any breakfast.
    So thank you thyroid hormone for giving me a normal appetite!
    Sometimes my breakfast is just toast and an egg, or cheese toast – and sometimes pizza! But the best (gives me the best energy) breakfast for me is dinner leftovers. Yes, i love chicken and broccoli for breakfast or give me some left over beef strew or broccoli quiche is a good one. I’ve even been known to cook up hamburger patties just to have to warm up for breakfast. all organic meat for me too. My husband just shakes his head in bewilderment now when he sees what I eat for breakfast…but he’s glad i’m eating.

  38. Vrinda says:

    Veru nice post on breakfast. But I am wondering why homemade fruit smoothie is wrong for the breakfast??

  39. Anita says:

    i like organic coconut oil, 1 cup fat free Greek yogurt, frozen blueberries, blackberries and raspberries , blend in mixer. no ice, you have the frozen berries to chill it, Healthy and Delicious. thyroid healthy. Fat, protein, fruit carbs….YUMMY.

  40. Apelila says:

    I’ve gone autoimmune paleo to live with my Hashimotos so that means no grains, dairy, nightshades or eggs.
    WHA! omelets used to be one of my favorite things.
    Now I get a grass fed chuck or pork roast and rub it with a coffee/cinnamon/chocolate mix. Brown it on all sides in some really hot coconut oil and put it in the crock pot with 1/4c water for 8 hours.
    Makes a weeks worth of breakfast with a very small piece of sweet potato. yummy!

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