A good breakfast is the best start to a healthy lifestyle

Now that Christmas is over and 2015 is well and truly upon us, it’s time that people really should seize their new year resolutions. Many people at this time of year are angry at themselves for piling on ‘holiday weight’ over Christmas and confused about how they are going to shift it.

Among the most popular resolutions are ‘losing weight’, ‘getting fit’ and ‘eating healthy’. However, people generally fall at the first hurdle because they forget that to achieve one you must not neglect the others. Health and fitness is about balance and harmony – everything in moderation.

The key to success is taking baby steps, so don’t jump in at the deep-end. Focus on achieving small goals on a day-to-day basis. Every little victory is a positive step in the right direction.

My main tip for success throughout the day is to eat a wholesome and healthy breakfast. The ideal choice would be eggs, given the ample supply of protein and beneficial fats they provide. Another option, however, is porridge.

Oats hit the headlines recently with reports that a small bowl of porridge each day could be the key to a long and healthy life. This followed a major study by Harvard University that found whole grains reduce the risk of dying from heart disease.

Although whole grains are widely believed to be beneficial for health it is the first research to look at whether they have a long-term impact on lifespan.

Researchers followed more than 100,000 people for over 14 years monitoring their diets and health outcomes.

Everyone involved in the study was healthy in 1984 when they enrolled but, when they were followed up in 2010, more than 26,000 had died.

However, those who ate the most whole grains – such as porridge, brown rice, corn and quinoa – seemed protected from many illnesses and particularly heart disease.

Oats are already the breakfast of choice for many athletes and also for dieters, who find the high fibre levels give them energy for longer.

However, scientists found that for each 28g of whole grains eaten a day – the equivalent of a small bowl of porridge – the risk of all death was reduced by 5% and heart deaths by 9%.

The findings remained even when allowing for different ages, smoking, body mass index and physical activity.

Whole grains, where the bran and germ remain, contain 25% more protein than refined grains, such as those that make white flour, pasta and white rice. Previous studies have shown that whole grains can boost bone mineral density, lower blood pressure, promote healthy gut bacteria and reduce the risk of diabetes.

The health benefits don’t just stop there either – whole grains can assist in lowering cholesterol which can help to protect against heart disease, attacks and strokes.

Another plus to porridge is its price. Enough porridge to keep an entire family going for a week costs about €1 in your local supermarket, depending on the option they choose. So eat up!