The fall is full of exciting changes. We say goodbye to the summer heat and welcome in cooler temperatures, we adjust to new schedules, new activities, and new daily rituals. One of the principles I practice with my private nutrition clients at Boston Functional Nutrition is the notion of preparation (and no, that does not mean hours of meal prep making “boring health food”). Food is your first and most fundamental medicine, and quality nutrition doesn’t have to be difficult. It simply takes a tiny bit of thinking ahead!
PICTURE IT: SUNDAY NIGHT
It’s 8:00pm and you’re already mentally exhausted thinking about everything you need to accomplish in the coming week.
- If you’re trying to conceive, you’re living with that particular goal in the back of your mind.
- If you’re pregnant, you’re dealing with physical changes making themselves ever-present, not to mention new and thrilling food aversions!
- If you’re breastfeeding, chances are you might barely be sleeping or finding time to bathe, let alone finding yourself in a headspace to pre-prepare meals not intended for immediate consumption.
- And if you’re none-of-the-above, your Sunday Scaries are still valid, too, trust us. We get it. This is post also for you!
You know that you’ll feel better tomorrow if you eat quality nutrients for breakfast and/or lunch. You know you’ll conquer the day if you’re probably fueled. But there are no easy leftovers to throw together, and there is no way you’ll have the time to make a full fledged meal before your day starts tomorrow morning. That's when you remember: you have grains!
The universe is looking out for you.
If you’ve got any grains in your arsenal, you’ve got a delicious breakfast you can throw together in two minutes, leave overnight, and grab and go first thing in the morning.
But before we get into how to go about doing this, let’s talk about why.
What makes this meal ideal?
There are 3 major reasons:
- Grains like oats, quinoa, and buckwheat are an excellent source of soluble dietary fiber. In oats specifically, high levels of β-glucan are present, which is considered to be the major active component of oats due to its cholesterol-lowering and antidiabetic effects (1). These grains work to stabilize your blood sugar and encourage satiety, keeping you energized and satisfied more effectively. (As we dive into diabetes and pregnancy later this season, recipes like this will leap to the front of the line.)
- Many grains also hold bioactive phytochemicals with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, ideal for fertility & preconception as well as pregnancy & breastfeeding. In fact, most of us will benefit from incorporating anti-inflammatory-oriented foods into our diets.
- Most grains - though often processed with or in the same facilities with wheat - are inherently gluten-free, making them a great option for celiac patients and those sensitive to gluten (2). Do make sure you select “gluten-free” specifically when shopping for your dried grains! It should always be marked on the container to prove there was no cross-contamination.
Not only are whole grains nutritionally advantageous, but many of the things we traditionally pair them with are bursting with nutrients that optimize our health.
- Seeds are a nutritional powerhouse, providing healthy fats, fiber, and important micronutrients like B vitamins and vitamin E.
- Found abundantly in foods from plants, such as oils, nuts, and seeds. They also help keep us full and satiated, preventing the post-breakfast blood sugar spikes that might leave us reaching for a snack 1-2 hours after breakfast.
A diet that contains effective amounts of quality protein packs massive health benefits by helping you build and maintain muscle and strength, supporting your bone health, and has even been shown to help lower blood pressure (3). If you’re on a pregnancy path, your protein intake is critical to provide building blocks to… well, build your baby! For recipes like this, look to full fat dairy to pack extra protein, or consider a safe, third-party tested protein powder or collagen peptide, like Vital Proteins.
There’s no recipe card, so it's time to get creative!
There’s an assumption that quick and easy recipes feel boring, but you aren’t going to let that happen. You know the exact formula to make breakfast as nutritionally balanced, whole, and delicious as it is fast. How? You have the FullWell Blueprint!
Check it out! Pick one from each column and plunk your ingredients on the counter:
*Note: Eggs can be boiled 3 days ahead if covered and chilled (do not peel them before you want to eat them). Braised or steamed vegetables can be made 4 days ahead, and the same storage rules apply, just cover and chill.
Once you’ve assembled your ingredients, the rest is a breeze.
Here are some of our favorite combos for when we are feeling more stressed than inspired:
When you have our blueprint, you don’t need a recipe: you can make it up as you go! We challenge you to perfect your own creations and share them with us on social media. You might inspire someone else to take charge of their own fertility!
- Sang, Shengmin. Chu, YiFang. “Whole grain oats, more than just a fiber: Role of unique phytochemicals.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. Web. Published July 2017. Accessed Nov 2021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28067025/.
- Rasane, Prasad. Jha, Alok. Sabikhi, Latha. Kumar, Arvind. Unnikrishnan, V S. “Nutritional advantages of oats and opportunities for its processing as value added foods - a review.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. Web. Published June 2013. Accessed Nov 2021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25694675/.
- “Dietary protein and blood pressure: a systematic review.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. Web. Published Aug 2010. Accessed Nov 2021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20711407/.