It’s not just what you eat but when you eat – top tips

It’s not just what you eat, but when you eat: A nutritionist’s guide to the best foods to eat from dawn till dusk

We all know we need to be eating a healthy, balanced diet but knowing what to eat at certain points of the day can be confusing if you’re not in the know. We asked nutritionist Cassandra Barns to guide us through what we should be eating when from dawn till dusk.

7–8am: Scrambled eggs on rye toast with rocket and cherry tomatoes

“Breakfast should always focus on protein. Protein helps to wake you up in the morning, as well as helping to balance your blood sugar for steady energy throughout the day. The eggs provide the protein, and this is combined with some slow-releasing carbohydrates in the rye bread, and one to two servings of vegetables in the rocket and tomatoes.”

10–11am: 2 teaspoons of almond or peanut butter on 2 oatcakes

“To keep your energy levels balanced Cassandra advises, “If you’re peckish mid-morning, go for a snack that combines some more slow-releasing carbohydrates, Nairn’s superseded wholegrain oatcakes [RRP £1.40, Sainsbury’s] with protein and/or healthy fats. The carbs are provided by the oatcakes and the protein and fats by the nut butter.”

1pm: Salmon salad with quinoa, avocado and green beans (or other mixed salad veg)

“A focus on protein is important at lunch too. Keeping protein levels up and limiting carbohydrates to a smallish serving will help keep your blood sugar levels steady and help prevent the afternoon ‘slump’ around 3 or 4pm. Salmon provides not only protein but also vital healthy omega-3 fats for your brain.”

3–4pm: Matcha Green Tea with 1 or 2 chunks of raw dark chocolate

“Many of us feel like an afternoon pick-me-up, even if we’ve eaten healthy meals at breakfast and lunch. But coffee can keep you buzzing for hours and may affect your sleep” says Cassandra. Instead she advises, “Go for Clearspring’s Matcha Shots you’ll get a much smaller dose of caffeine for a gentle lift, together with theanine – a natural substance found in green tea that can help you feel calmer and more focused. As an afternoon treat, you could have a couple of chunks of dark chocolate – as long as it’s at least 70% cocoa, such as OMBAR 72% [RRP £1.99, Ocado] to limit your sugar intake. Raw chocolate is a great option as you’ll get higher levels of antioxidants compared to standard chocolate.”

6.30pm: Chicken and veggie stir-fry with buckwheat soba noodles

“For your evening meal, you can put more focus on the carbohydrates by having a good serving of wholegrain noodles or wholegrain pasta. Opt for Clearspring’s Japanese Soba Buckwheat Noodles. Eating more slow-releasing carbs in the evening can help to calm the nervous system and aid sleep. Buckwheat noodles are ideal for this. Emphasize the veggies too, with just a small to moderate serving of chicken or other protein.”

9pm: A small bowl of oats

Finally just before bed Cassandra suggests “If you tend to feel a bit hungry before you go to bed, or you have problems sleeping, then an extra small serving of slow-releasing carbohydrates an hour or so before bed can be helpful. Try a half bowl of porridge made with Nairn’s Scottish Porridge Oats. Oats may also have natural calming properties – in herbal medicine, they’re classed as ‘nervines’, meaning they can support the nervous system – ideal before bed.”

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