Photo by Liudmyla Yaremenko at

The Key to a Long and Healthy Existence?

If nothing else it’s a good start providing you can resist the temptation of turning it into a cake.

Every interview I’ve seen or heard with centenarians seems to include details of their oat-based breakfasting habits. It is hard to imagine similar interviews in seventy or eighty years where the interviewee puts their longevity down to Cheerios or Pop-Tarts, so my only conclusion is that porridge probably holds the key to a long and healthy existence. Either that or Cheerios kill you. I suspect both may be true. Naturally, I have now become a devout porridge worshipper and, while it may have been my totally unsubstantiated theory that rekindled my love of porridge, it is the simplicity, versatility and downright heartiness of the dish that has got me hooked.

…porridge probably holds the key to a long and healthy existence. Either that or Cheerios kill you. I suspect both may be true.

After a small amount of research, however, I start to feel like I might be on my own here. It seems that everyone else hates porridge so much they will add almost anything to it in order to make it taste of something completely different. Worse still they seem intent on turning this delicious, healthy and satisfying meal into a calorie-laden sugar-fest. I mean there’s carrot cake porridge, chocolate brownie porridge, apple pie porridge, not to mention portions of nuts and nut butters that would send any calorie counter into a spin. Needless to say, along with every other recipe on the internet containing oats, they are all described as “healthy” but let’s face it, healthy could be the most misused word on the internet right now.

One of the main benefits of oatmeal, particularly jumbo oats, is that the body takes longer to digest them compared to more processed cereals, so the glucose from the carbohydrate enters the bloodstream more gradually. This means there is no big spike in blood sugar and you generally feel fuller for longer. I realise that you can make porridge “tastier” by adding sugar and fat in various guises but not only is it likely to make you feel rather crap shortly after your dopamine levels subside, it will also totally undo this benefit of oatmeal — you might as well have a bowl of Frosties. It’s also worth remembering that oatmeal is a carbohydrate so it already packs a punch in the calorie department even before it’s injected with cake.

But, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised as out of all the catastrophic changes that we have made to our diets over the last 50 years, breakfast is probably our greatest fail. Perhaps our wills are at their weakest when we wake up but we seem convinced that ingesting extreme quantities of sugar is an ideal start to the day when, in reality, it is hard to imagine what could be worse.

I like to revel in the warm heartiness of a bowl of porridge — its simplicity adds to the delight but I get that for most people it’s simpler to pour milk over a bowl of cereal. I make my porridge with water and a pinch of salt but I don’t mind adding a drizzle of cream and maple syrup if the mood takes me. I use jumbo oats and add oat bran towards the end of the cooking time. The oat bran delivers a rich, golden hue to the porridge and soaks up any remaining liquid to provide a thick, hearty bowl of rib-sticking goodness….

My Oat Porridge


40g Organic Jumbo Oats (Flavahans for example) (150kcal)

30g Oatbran (109kcal)

350g Water

4g Fine Sea Salt

14g Pure Maple Syrup (36kcal) (optional)

10g Organic Double Cream (43 kcal) (optional)

Nutrition: 339 kcal, 55.1g Total Carbs (9.4g sugar), 8.8g Fibre, 9.9g Fat, 8.6g Protein Glycaemic Load 5.1


  1. Put the jumbo oats, 250g water and the salt in an appropriate saucepan over a medium heat and stir until it begins to thicken, the oats are losing their definition and the liquid is almost at a boil (5–6 mins).
  2. Add the rest of the water and the oatbran. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting and stir until you can no longer see the oat bran and the porridge is really nice and thick.
  3. Decant to your bowl of choice, add your toppings (easy tiger), turn off your phone, turn off the radio, lock all the doors and focus on the satisfying warmth, flavour and texture of the simplest of meals.

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