Have you ever asked yourself how the porridge has become the number 1 breakfast trend of the 21st century even though it used to be eaten mostly by peasants in the past?
One possible reason would be that more and more people are realizing the advantages of warm breakfast. But why exactly is warm breakfast this healthy? To answer this question, we interviewed the certified nutritionist Mag. Nina Mandl whose work focuses on the principles of the Traditional Chinese Medicine:
“Breakfast like an emperor, lunch like a king, and dine like a beggar.”
This saying shows that breakfast is not only the most important meal of the day according to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). According to the 5 elements nutrition (the dietetics of TCM) the body can digest cooked meals much easier and cooked food can supply the body with more energy.
In TCM this is explained through the so-called organ clock which indicates that our stomach and spleen are most active in the morning hours (between 7 AM and 11 AM). This means that our digestive power is the highest in the morning and that carbohydrates can be digested the best at this time.
More energy through a warm breakfast
Essentially, it is very logical and comprehensible that the amount of digestive power is reduced if we nourish the body with cooked meals. It does not matter whether your warm breakfast is a warm porridge, scrambled eggs or a soup as long as it is cooked. If a breakfast consists of cold milk with muesli, a cooling yoghurt with raw fruits or bread with any topping, our body has to spend a lot more energy in order to transform it. Energy that our body uses to digest cold food is therefore missing throughout the day and can lead to energetic downs or sudden cravings. Long-term, cold breakfast can reduce the digestive power and also the immune defense!
If you try having a warm breakfast for some days, you will certainly be surprised that you will be feeling fitter and full of energy. Especially if you did not have any kind of breakfast until now, you will benefit from this. If you have doubts about gaining weight, we can soothe you because the opposite is true. Our metabolism reacts very positively as an increased activity to the regular supply with food which can be digested easily.
Some inspirations concerning warm breakfast options, can be found on Nina’s blog.
Warm breakfast – not only during the cold months
The 5 elements theory says that the different seasons of the year play an important role. Therefore, the recommended food intake varies according to the temperature and weather. Warm breakfast on the other hand can be eaten all year round. The ingredients and toppings are adjusted according to external conditions like temperature and weather. In winter it is best to use warming ingredients such as oats, oat milk and warming spices such as cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. In summer you can use fresh berries or other red fruits as toppings. In contrast, during winter TCM suggests the consumption of cooked fruits and vegetables.
And as you cannot really talk about warm breakfast without mentioning the “miracle grain” oat, we asked Nina what makes oat the breakfast champions?
Oats – A real superfood
Oat is a wonderful grain as it has a low level of gluten (some varieties are even completely gluten free) and is rich in important vitamins and vital substances. According to TCM oat is the grain that matches our Yang the most, meaning that oats are creating the highest amount of warmth in the body. Therefore, oat is especially suitable for the cold and wet season. Oats have a sweet-bitter taste and in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) this taste is collated to the element of metal. This means that primarily the organs lung and large intestine are positively influenced. Oat strengthens our Qi and tones the organs lungs and kidneys. Furthermore, it positively effects out stomach and the whole digestive tract.
For some constitution types or in certain phases of life (for example, if children currently undergo a growth spurt or are teething) when the yang (the heat) is predominating, oats can overheat the body and can make you feel unsettled. In this case preparing the porridge with more cooling plant-based drinks such as rice or soy milk can balance out the yang.
The key learnings of today are that according to TCM the digestion is at its peak in the morning and cooked, warm meals can be digested easier. This leaves you with more energy for work, school, uni, working out etc. Last but not least, warm breafkast does not need complicated or time-consuming preparation! A warm porridge, for example our VERIVAL Strawberry-Chia Porridge, can be prepared within less than 5 minutes. By the way, the basis of our VERIVAL porridges are oats which, according to TCM, have many positive effects on the human body.
Thank you very much Nina for answering our questions regarding warm breakfast!
Mag. Nina Mandl is a certified nutritionist whose work focusses on the principles of the Traditional Chinese Medicine and mom of 2 boys. Besides personal nutrition consultation, she regularly offers cooking classes with emphasis on different topics.