Is "Breakfast" really the most important meal of the day?
Its a saying we’ve been told growing up. I was reminded in school how important it was to start my day with a good breakfast so I had the energy needed for education. This was also heavily promoted through television commercials and advertisements- so I thought this was the right thing to follow.
I would eat my Vegemite on toast or my weetbix with cow’s milk before school, then be STARVING after an hour. I wouldn't be able to stop thinking about food, and needing to eat every few hours. This went on for years, and being 5 foot tall - I quickly gained weight..
Sound familiar? (maybe not the 5 foot tall part..)
Fast forward now to my mid 20’s, I can safely assure you that “No, Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day”. A message ingrained into the minds of many, and over time has become habitual and even a necessity.
Firstly, ALL meals are equally important. Where the combination of protein, fat and carbohydrates will determine the meal's effect on blood glucose levels and hormone response. Any meal is a great opportunity to feed your body nourishing foods, and not merely because its the FIRST meal for the day.
“Breakfast” means breaking the FAST, overnight fast that is. When someone has their first meal at 7.30am but ate dessert, or mindlessly snack in front of the t.v at 8.30pm the night before- they haven’t had a proper overnight fast (12-hours).
There should be an actual fast TO break.. .
You can break your fast at 9am, 10am, or even 12pm if you wanted.
Many people wake up, with hardly any time or appetite for breakfast, so they grab something on the way to school or work. It's not a natural process to eat-on-the-run, yet people report recurrent digestive issues or having to “force something down”.
If you’re NOT hungry in the morning: wait until you are then eat (or later when the time is appropriate eg. morning tea). Reasons that you're not hungry could be due to: 1. Zinc and Vitamin B6 deficiency- needed to make stomach acid
2. Haven't eliminated your bowels properly- irregular bowel movements
3. Stress getting your day sorted- or even poor mental health such as anxiety about work situation
For those who DO need to eat upon waking, a few common mechanisms can be due to:
1) Your body is used to having breakfast at the same time each day. It secretes hunger hormones and trigger digestive processes in anticipation for the upcoming food. Thereby making you feel hungry
2) You've eaten high carb meal the night before causing "Reactive Hypoglyceamia" the next morning.
3) You have a beast metabolism (or lots of lean muscle mass), have higher energy requirements, and therefore a bigger appetite
4) Your appetite gets stimulated by surrounding smells and sights of fellow commuters or hipster baristas, preparing or eating their food. Stimulus causing response (also plausible)
For these individuals, then yes, eat breakfast- I would choose foods that were higher in protein and healthy fats to sustain blood glucose and energy levels. Especially for those who struggle, and regretfully choose fast food when they skip breakfast.
Don't stress about it being the vital meal of the day. Here are some healthier alternatives: Low Carb Gluten Free Pancakes topped with butter, and homemade berry jam/ nut butter Gluten Free Corn Fritters topped with eggs (your way), salsa and guacamole Grain Free Granola topped almond milk and mixed berries
Time of eating is just as important as what goes into your mouth.
Each individual is unique in their nutritional requirements and lifestyle commitments.
If you need further assistance in finding what foods are suited to your needs, seek tailored advice from a nutrition healthcare professional.
Until next time,
Bonny. C ~