Friday 27 January 2012

Our "Shake Up Your Wake Up" Breakfast Week Challenge

As I told you last week (here), we were challenged to take part in the annual Farmhouse Breakfast Week Challenge and Shake Up Our Wake Up, even receiving a lovely hamper of breakfast goodies to help us on our way. For me, improving my usual breakfast habits wouldn't be hard at all, as - although I make sure the kids don't leave for school with an empty tummy - my best effort at consuming something myself is a hasty swig of orange juice as I head out of the door. Not good, I know, but I never find the time (I get up at 6.15, get everyone organised and leave the house at 7am) and I always make it through to lunch at the school canteen with no problems (or snacking). But I was determined to give this a fair trial and make the time for breakfast for a whole week to see if it made any difference to how we all felt.

Monday is always a day when everyone's feeling slightly groggy and getting back into the school/work routine after the weekend, so time and enthusiasm levels were low. Breakfast was therefore a hastily thrown together glass of orange juice and plate of malt loaf, followed by a banana. Usually I'd smother the malt loaf in butter, but I'm still trying to eat healthily and lose weight so I just ate it plain. I was actually intrigued to see if I would put on weight over the week, as I'm adding breakfast in to my routine without changing my other meals. Time will tell. I actually felt hungrier mid-morning than I usually do when I haven't eaten breakfast, which is something that I've actually noticed before and seems to defy all logic ! Hmm !

Tuesday was a bit less hectic so I made some porridge, which everyone - even the kids - loved. Now, I don't know if you're old enough to remember the Reddy-Brek adverts where the little boy used to walk out into the cold glowing with warmth from inside but that was exactly how I felt. It was drizzly and cold at the bus stop but I didn't feel the cold anywhere near as much as usual, which I'm sure is down to the porridge. Everyone seemed in a much better mood than usual, maybe because we all sat down to eat together (albeit briefly) instead of munching separately in between getting dressed, washed and ready for school/work. I weighed myself and noticed I'd put on a few hundred grams since the start of the week - nothing major but I'm hoping it won't go up any more than that. I definitely set off for work in a happier mood and feeling more awake, ready to take on the world (not to mention the bad weather). This was helped down with some delicious Copella apple juice - and Juliette even splashed a bit on her porridge to help cool it down, declaring it yummy !

Now Wednesday is my day off so I made a real effort and offered people the choice of bacon sarnies or banana sandwiches. I was actually really surprised to see that everyone chose the latter - either as straight banana, banana and Nutella or banana and peanut butter on chunky slices of proper bread. I put the bacon away for another day ! Do you like my artistic heart-shaped banana skin ? You can tell I'm feeling more energetic and good-humoured in the mornings ! Seriously though, I'm used to getting off to a good start in the morning even without breakfast but I have been noticing that my energy levels have been flagging less mid afternoon when I finish work. Usually, I rush home from work, pick the kids up from school, supervise the homework, cook them something to eat then feel ready to flop into bed. This week, I've been cooking proper home-cooked food, playing games and reading bedtime stories which are often relegated to the weekend or holidays when I'm not so tired. Definitely an unexpected bonus ! This lack of tiredness also means I've been less grumpy with the kids, which in turn rubs off on them so we've all been laughing and joking a lot more and sniping at each other a lot less.

Thursday, getting into the swing of things now. Actually finding time for breakfast really isn't as complicated as I imagined, as long as you're organised and sort everything out in advance so you hit the kitchen in the morning already knowing what you're going to prepare. After buying loads of fresh fruit at the farmers' market, we prepared a fab fruit salad with kakis, pears, apples, banana, mango and satsumas.

We topped this off with toast (the kids prefer the sliced white to the "real" bread which is a shame, especially as I make my own most of the time) but the grown-ups love thick doorsteps, toasted under the grill. I gave the Madhouse mini-testers free choice of toppings and the favourites were soft cheese, butter and homemade plum and rhubarb jam made by Mamie, their French Nanny. They also tried the little pots of jam from the hamper, which they said was nearly as good as Mamie's, and the Marmite which had me in fits of giggles as they ran around the room yellling "eeeuurrggghhhhh" rubbing at their tongues with a tissue ! 10-year-old Sophie was so excited about being allowed to put the bread in the toaster and turn it on too - a great timesaver for me and she felt so important and grown-up that there was no squabbling. Or maybe this is another one of the  unexpected benefits of eating breakfast - everyone's in a better mood ?

Friday (today) was the final day of the challenge so I served up boiled eggs with soldiers, much to the kids' delight ! They also attacked the innocent smoothies that they have had their eyes on all week in the fridge ! Both the strawberry & banana and mango & passion fruit varieities were declared delicious and are certainly a very easy way of getting their daily 5-a-day off to a good start.

As Pierre doesn't like boiled egg, he was allowed a choc dipper as a special treat, but he also guzzled down a beaker full of innocent smoothie !

And are you wondering if I put on weight ? Well, no, I actually ending up losing a pound, despite eating exactly the same as I would at the other meals and just adding in an extra meal a day ! I never believed the experts who always said that eating breakfast could help you lose weight but maybe they were right then !!

Energy wise, I didn't feel any difference in the morning but I did manage to fit in breakfast without getting up any earlier. I think the knock-on effects made themselves known at the end of the day though as I have certainly been feeling less tired after work. And I don't know if it's the fact that we were eating more or actually finding the time to sit down together as a family each morning but we all certainly seemed to be in a better mood.

For that reason alone, I will be making a determined effort to keep the proper breakfasts going even after the challenge comes to an end !

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  1. What a great experiment and I love all the different breakfasts that you and your family ate. I can't leave the house without a bowl of cereal but my youngest daughter is a nightmare and I constantly have to nag her!

  2. We could do with eating breakfast more my partner and I skip breakfast most days,we really could do with giving this a try.

  3. I find if I have protein for breakfast I snack far less during the morning and it certainly helps me to maintain my weight. Breakfast is a long affair in this house because my son eats so much (and so slowly) we have to sit around drinking tea waiting for him to finish!

  4. Brilliant experiment - I've always made sure we all have a proper breakfast because I feel it is so important. (@beachrambler)


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