Almost weekly, I get asked by clients, group participants, and random acquaintances about breakfast. Often, their goal is to ‘eat breakfast’ because, like all of us, that’s what we’ve heard all our lives, that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ but is it? Well, like most things related to food, it really depends on the individual.
So where did this idea that breakfast is non-negotiable start? 100 years ago, this idea that breakfast is virtuous didn’t even exist. But like most eating behaviours – we’ve created rule after rule to keep us and our pocketbooks lean. This idea that we need breakfast actually came from a 1917 issue of Good Health Magazine.
“ "[I]n many ways, the breakfast is the most important meal of the day, because it is the meal that gets the day started," Lenna F. Cooper, B.S., writes in a 1917 issue of Good Health, the self-proclaimed "oldest health magazine in the world" edited by none other than Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the co-inventor of flaked cereal. "It should not be eaten hurriedly, and all the family, so far as possible, should partake of it together. And above all, it should be made up of easily digested foods, and balanced in such a way that the various food elements are present in the right proportions. It should not be a heavy meal, consisting of over five to seven hundred calories," Cooper's article continues.”
Naturally, this has since been adopted and cherished by you guessed it, breakfast food companies (Sanitarium, Kelloggs etc). Read more about that here.
We’ve been told that if we want to stay slim, to be healthy and function properly we 'need' breakfast, when studies that show when it comes to health, there is very little difference between those who eat breakfast and those who don't.
That being said, there are some instances when not having breakfast can lead to issues and I’ll talk more about those below but overall the eat breakfast = health equation just doesn’t add up.
And who is to say when breakfast is? Is it 6am? 7am?
Breakfast – or 'breaking the fast' ultimately can happen at any time. It could be 11am if that worked for you, or later. The goal, always, is to feel good and find what works for you.
So who would benefit from eating breakfast?
Those who love it! If you enjoy eating breakfast and have no negative consequences from it, go for it! As I said, there is no difference in health outcomes for those who eat it or don’t. It’s more around the behaviours following having or not having it, that can affect things.
When you eat breakfast you find your mood and energy levels are better. It makes you feel good. You’re sharper, get more done and it improves your morning exercise routine (if you have one)
You feel more in charge of your eating decisions for the rest of the day. Some people who skip breakfast end up with erratic eating habits for the rest of the day and can find themselves over eating at night time and feel bloated and yuck before bed.
For others, when they eat more during the first half of the day, they are less likely to over do it at night. Some find that eating breakfast makes them hungrier through the day and their eating decisions more erratic.
We’re all different.
That being said, if you play around with what you’re having for breakfast, you may get different results. Try this breakfast experiment or just start paying attention to how satisfying that first meal is for you.
So, in summary – the question of ‘should’ you eat breakfast really depends on these three questions?
Do you like it?
Does it make you feel good?
Does it help you make feel in charge of you eating habits through the day?
What should you eat? Well, that’s another blog post altogether! Tune in and see what you genuinely want, experiment, nourish yourself and ditch the rules.
You got this.
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