Ditch the pancakes and sugary pastries — if you’re going to eat a breakfast food that begins with the letter ‘p’, it should be pizza.
While conventional wisdom says the dish is a food typically confined to the latter part of the day — or occasionally as cold leftovers in the morning — there’s good nutritional reasoning to justify the swapping in of pizza into your breakfast routine.
Slice chatted with virtual dietician Chelsey Amer, to find out more about how pizza can be incorporated into your first meal of the day. She dished on how pizza has a leg up on certain other breakfast foods — and that, by comparison, pizza can keep your energy levels stable for a longer period of time.
“Pizza can actually be a more nutritionally balanced breakfast choice, compared to a lot of sugary breakfast cereals and pastries that are out there,” Amer explains. “So it can actually leave you with more sustainable energy for a longer period of time because you’re not going to have that immediate sugar crash in an hour.”
According to Amer, a slice of pizza first thing in the morning boasts a more equitable mix of macronutrients (i.e. carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) than traditional options like a bowl of cereal and a sweet pastry or donut. For instance, cereals generally have hefty levels of carbs and sugars, but minuscule amounts of the important proteins and fats needed to satiate a person’s hunger long-term.
A pizza, on the other hand, is holistically more balanced: the crust and tomato sauce will largely comprise the meal’s carbs, which are then offset by the cheese and any added meats that provide the fat and protein macronutrients
“I’m not telling you to go out and eat an entire pie for breakfast,” says Amer, a registered dietician nutritionist who holds her master’s degree in clinical nutrition from New York University. “However it can be a better choice compared to a lot of other options out there.”
If you do decide to go the pizza-for-breakfast route, Amer recommends tossing on some veggies and incorporating a whole grain crust for some extra fiber in the morning. Adding a bonus serving of red sauce —as long as its low in sugar — also provides an added health boost from the antioxidants and lycopene in the tomatoes, she notes.
And for those who have been stifling their morning pizza cravings for a long time, Amer suggests acquiescing when you truly have the ache for a good slice.
“If you wake up craving pizza and then you put it off and put if off for so long, you’re going to end up overeating that pizza when you finally quench your craving,” Amer said.
After all, disregarding certain so-called dietary rules and norms can be a step towards a healthier lifestyle.
“It’s a good idea to think outside your normal constructs for meals,” Amer said. “You don’t have to eat breakfast foods for breakfast. You don’t have to eat dinner food for dinner. Breakfast for dinner is really popular too. So I think just giving yourself that permission to change it up is also important in terms of a balanced approach to nutrition.”
— Melanie Lawder