Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and you must ideally never skip it. However, before you decide to go and pile up your plate with your favourite delicacies, take a look at some of the worst things you're having for breakfast. You've been eating them all your life without a thought but you might pay for it later. It's time to push these out of your breakfast diet right now!
1. Vada Pav
The Mumbaikar's lifeline. Honestly, there is nothing more unhealthy than piling on fried batata vada stuffed with potatoes and bread into your mouth and stomach. A single vada pav can have as many as 286 calories!
Instead: If you really want something filling, try lightly tossed vegetables with whole wheat bread. Nothing fried or starchy.
2. Medu Vada
A South Indian staple, Medu Vada is considered healthy as it has dal or lentils. Well, it is not. Black gram lentils are difficult for the body to break down and your body needs something easy to digest but healthy first thing in the morning, as it has been empty the whole night. Plus, medu vadas are fried adding to the unhealthy quotient. There are 334 calories per medu vada plate (discounting the calories from chutney and sambhar). Have a plate of medu vada as an afternoon snack to satiate your cravings but not for breakfast.
Instead: Substitute medu vada with idlis as they are healthier and steamed, not fried. Plus have it with sambhar as you will get your vegetable dose from it too!
3. Sabudana Vada
A favourite among Indians especially on their 'fasting' days, this breakfast is doing your body more harm than good. The reason fasts were invented in ancient times was so that the body could give a break to all the Rajasic and Tamasic (unhealthy) food eaten and cleanse it internally. It was basically a detox day for your body. However, with sabudana vada, you are piling on the fat as the vadas are deep fried. Oils, potatoes, sago and corn-starch with preservative and colour-laced ketchup make this one of the most unhealthy breakfast dishes.
Instead: Opt for baked sabudana vadas as they are healthier than the friend variant. Also, replace that ketchup with home-made coriander and mint chutney.
Parathas are a North Indian favourite but they are soon catching up as a breakfast item in other parts of India too. Parathas by themselves are healthy food if not fried as they have vegetables and wheat (not for the gluten-free lovers though). However, the addition of all that butter and pickle to dip into makes the paratha as unhealthy as possible.
Instead: Go easy on the wheat flour and try making a paratha with other grains; ragi, jowar, bajra (you can even try a mix of the three), etc and do not stuff your parathas with just aloo. Experiment with vegetables too - you can add onions, capscicum, crushed peas, carrots, mint leaves along with potatoes to the paratha. It will not only add taste to your paratha but even make it healthier. Also, roast it on the pan with very little oil instead of frying. Team it up with fresh curd and chutney instead of pickle. Voila! Healthy breakfast ready!
5. Toast Butter
The quick-fix breakfast dish. Not really an Indian dish but loved by every Indian the world over. However, your toast butter has little or no nutritional value. There's white bread which is processed wheat and butter which is packaged, and once again, full of extra salt, colour and preservatives.
Instead: Opt for a sandwich as it is healthier. Chuck that white bread out of the window. And before you pounce on brown bread, make sure it is truly healthy, and not just coloured brown. Make up a healthy sandwich with multigrain bread, chutney, vegetables like onions, cucumbers, beetroot, tomatoes, lettuce or get creative and add random vegetables. Top it with salsa instead of ketchup and it will make an interesting variation.
6. Puri Bhaji
A favourite pretty much all over India, this dish comes with its variants. While in some places the bhaji consists of potato chunks boiled and sauteed, in other places there is a mixed vegetable of sorts called kurma. Whatever the variation, the dish is extremely unhealthy. Puris are fried and potatoes are not the best vegetable to eat in the morning.
Instead: Replace your puri bhaji with a plate of chapati-bhaji which is a lot more healthy. Or you can also have pav bhaji (just the bhaji - sans butter and pav) with bhakri.
7. Misal Pav
A Maharashtrian staple, Misal Pav is a dish of legumes with spiced oil poured over and relished with pav. The Misal Pav is highly unhealthy to eat in the morning as it has not only oodles of oil but even a lot of spices and chili which is not good for your body first thing in the morning. The added disadvantage of pav and you have a terrible combo on your hands.
Instead: Have a sprouts salad with added chopped vegetables. Just drizzle a little olive oil over the salad, add a dash of lemon, salt pepper and you're good to go!
8. English Breakfast
The trend of eating an English breakfast is slowly catching on in India. It might be tasty but before you enjoy all those pancakes/waffles, sausages, toast and coffee, wait and take a look at how unhealthy it all is. Waffles are made of processed wheat flour or maida which is extremely unhealthy. Also, fried sausages in the morning will only lead to cholesterol buildup among other things. The beans are not fresh and come out of a tin. Treating yourself once a while is fine but skip this on a daily basis.
Instead: Have boiled eggs or an egg omelette with fresh grilled vegetables, boiled chicken and a fruit. If you want pancakes, have a dosa instead (without oil or butter) and have sambhar with it.
Despite what Madhuri Dixit-Nene tells you, eating Maggi (even the oats variant) after a healthy workout will just negate the effects of that workout you just had. Maggi, though the perfect comfort food, is one of the unhealthiest things you can eat. The fried noodles, the packaged spices, added flavours... There's nothing natural or healthy about Maggi.
Instead: Cook up a storm with oats. Get out the oats, boil them in water, add spices like salt, chillies, turmeric, chaat masala, etc to your taste, add chopped fresh vegetables like onions, carrots, peas, capcisum, etc, boil the mixture and there! You have a breakfast as tasty, but a lot more healthy than Maggi.
10. Jalebi Fafda
A Gujarati staple, we really cannot stress on how wrong it is to eat Jalebi Fafda first thing in the morning. Dipped in sugar syrup, jalebis might send your senses drooling but they are also sending your health in a spin. Fafdas which are basically deep fried papads of gram flour and added spices have no nutritional value at all.
Instead: Have white steamed dhoklas with mint and dates chutney. Dhoklas are steamed pancakes made of a mixture of rice and urad dal. Skip the soda and the oil garnish. Instead, top them with sesame seeds before steaming and finely chopped coriander before serving. The dates chutney and mint are healthy too!
11. Poha Jalebi
Poha is one of the healthiest meals you can have in India but teaming it up with jalebi just takes away the health benefits. More prominent in central India, this dish is a favourite with locals. Sometimes, the poha is liberally garnished with sev which again kills the health benefits.
Instead: Have just the poha and for the sweet fix, opt for a milkshake or a honey-drizzled fruit. Also, do away with the potatoes in your poha. Have it with onion and peas, without the sev. Instead garnish it with grated coconut and a drizzle of lemon juice.
Another Indian favourite, Kachori is versatile as it is relished as both a breakfast snack as well as a side-dish in Indian meals. However, eating kachori first thing in the morning can be very unhealthy. Kachoris are stuffed with multiple things like peas, sev, spiced gram flour, moong dal, dried peas, dry-fruits, etc and then deep fried. Each kachori can have as many as 190 calories depending on the size and the stuffing.
Instead: Opt for a healthier meal like dalia. a kind of dried, cracked wheat, dalia has tons of health benefits. Make a dalia khichdi or make it the upma style. Don't forget to add lots of vegetables. Or you can even use boiled dalia (keep the consistency thick) with chopped vegetables and spices to make grilled tikkis. Just heat up your pan, add a few drops of oil, make the dalia mixture into tikkis and roast them on the pan. They are amazingly tasty. However, if you have a sweet tooth, you can just roast the dalia in a little saturated fat (ghee), add jaggery and water to the mix and let it cook till it is relatively thick. Known as Lapsi, this is a very healthy, very popular snack in Maharashtra.
No matter what those cereal advertisements tell you about weight-loss, your packaged cereal is extremely unhealthy. Prepackaged and ready to eat breakfast cereals are sugared, high in salts, and have little or no nutritional value of the original grains they are made from. The cereals are only a mix of high fructose syrup and processed-till-the-nutrients-
died corn. Having cereal is actually doing you a lot more harm than good.
Instead: Boil some corn and have it fresh, right out of your cooker. You can add some olive oil and salt to flavour it. Alternatively, you can also add a quarter of a cottage cheese cube to your corn for a unique taste. Or you can make a quick corn salad too! If you don't have the time, just have some dry-fruits. They are a lot more healthy, filling and will keep you feeling full for long.
14. Packaged Juices
Your 'real' fruit juices are not real. By the time the fruit juice is extracted from the fruits and then processed, the nutrients in the juices die. They are just coloured liquid. Also, the taste you get is not the original taste, as the process of extraction and purification pretty much destroys this. It is only added flavour. There's no real fibre, no nutrients. It's just like swallowing a glass full of sugar syrup.
Instead: Squeeze fresh juice at home. Or just run down and get some coconut water from your nearest vendor. Coconut water is not only healthy, it is tasty and refreshing!
Biscuits dipped in chai. The perfect Indian way to begin a morning. However, the biscuits you are eating are only processed flour and flavours. They have zero nutrition and you're just stuffing your stomach with flour cakes.
Instead: Get healthy khakhra to have with your tea. Or simply make some khakhra at home. If you're buying khakhra from outside, make sure it is the roasted, baked version and not the fried variant. Also, go for simple jeera khakhra as it does not have too many spices and is healthier. You could also opt for the 'methi' variant as you get some nutrition from the leafy vegetable too!
16. Fried Eggs
Eggs are one of the healthiest things you can eat. But frying them just makes them a mass of calories and kills all the nutrients in them.One large egg fry can have as many as 90 calories. While it does not sound like too much, it amounts to a lot in the daily calorie flow chart.
Instead: Have scrambled eggs or an egg omelette. Add vegetables to the omelette or the scramble and do not overload it with oil or butter. Keep it simple, fluffy and healthy.
17. French Toast
Once again, bread dipped in egg and deep fried, French Toast has nothing to its credit but calories. Sometimes, whipped cream and tinned fruits accompany the toast that make it even more unhealthy and unsafe to eat.
Instead: Make some quick upma and enjoy it. Upma is made out of semolina and is healthy. It is a balanced diet as it provides nutrition from the rava, vegetables, spices and lemon added while cooking.
18. Flavoured Yoghurt
This is a trend that has recently caught up in India. Packaged flavoured yoghurt has absolutely no nutritional value and the fruits added to it are laced with preservatives. Also, there is too much colour and preservatives added to the food. And in order to prevent the yogurt from going bad, it is further laced with additives.
Instead: Just whip up some good old dahi or make a milkshake. Add honey instead of sugar to the shake and stick to fresh vegetables. Also, use whole milk (try getting it from a 'tabela' near your home). The milk will be fresh and your smoothie will keep you full till your mid-morning snack.
Those delicious, delicious little fried triangles that comfort you each time you eat them? Well, they're doing a lot more than comforting. They might just be the sole reason for the extra flab around your waistline and your double-chin. Eating samosas first thing in the morning is not only extremely unhealthy, but it also is difficult for your body to digest because it is extremely heavy.
Instead: Instead of samosas, have a healthy roll. Make your roll covering from whole wheat flour and not maida. Add some lightly sauteed cabbage, grated carrots, sliced onions, and other vegetables of your choice to the mix. Top with salsa and mint-coriander paste. You can also add some garlic paste to it if you like it spicy. Roast the roll on a non-stick pan (without fat) and relish!