Whole-wheat pancakes, from The Wellness Principles

Try this Wellness Principle at breakfast

Dr Gary Deng says it’s not just what you eat, but also how much and when, that affects your overall health

Dr Gary Deng is the sort of physician you’d really want standing over your shoulder while you’re in the kitchen. The Chinese-born, New York based doctor is the Medical Director of Integrative Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and also a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, of Cornell University.

In his debut book, The Wellness Principles: Cooking for a Healthy Life Dr Deng considers the deeper causes of good and bad health. It’s partly a cookbook, as Deng is a great medical doctor, and an accomplished amateur cook, but it also features advice on everything from sleep to the superfoods.

Not only does Dr Deng offer insight into what to eat, he also offers advice on when to eat, and how much. “Too often we eat a quick and small breakfast (perhaps 10 percent of our daily intake), a hurried cold lunch (about 20 percent), and a large, satisfying dinner (about 70 percent),” writes Dr. Deng. “Generally, we don't do much after dinner and don’t expend much energy, so all that excess caloric intake has nowhere to go but be converted to fat, leading to weight gain.”

This isn’t great. “If you eat a large dinner close to bedtime, it doesn’t allow time for the food to digest efficiently and prevents you from sleeping soundly. We should try to fit our caloric intake into a schedule of an eleven-hour period. If we eat breakfast around 8 a.m., we should finish dinner by 7 p.m. With this in mind, we should eat about 30 percent of our daily intake at breakfast, 40 percent at lunch, and 30 percent at an early dinner. A recent study showed that people lose more weight if they eat a large breakfast instead of a large dinner, even when the total amount of calories they eat in a day is the same.”

So, what should you make for your bigger breakfast? You could try Dr Deng’s very own recipe for  whole-wheat pancakes. " I use whole-wheat flour to reduce the glycemic index of this dish and preserve more of the micronutrients," he says, adding, "I replace milk with kefir or yogurt, which is more flavorful and easier to digest." You’ll need two cups (180 g) of rolled oats; two cups (16 fl oz/475 ml) of unsweetened nut milk; two cups (240–300 g) of fresh fruit or  a cup (160 g) of dried fruit; 2 cups (300 g) of nuts or seeds; and a pinch of ground spices, such as cinnamon or nutmeg.

Try this Wellness Principle at breakfast

Gary Deng, MD, PhD. Photo by Stephen Cardone at NY Headshots

In a medium saucepan, combine the oats with four cups (32 fl oz / 950 ml) of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer uncovered until thickened. Remove from the heat. Stir in the nut milk. Pour the cooked oatmeal into four bowls. Top with the fruit and nuts, and sprinkle with spices. 

For a fuller recipe, as well as many more good health tips, order a copy of The Wellness Principles here.

Try this Wellness Principle at breakfast

The Wellness Principles