For a long time now, we have all argued that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, maybe because you are waking up from a fast (long hours of sleep) and it seems ‘important’ to eat.
Breakfast differs for a lot of people – a cup of tea or coffee, one boiled egg, pancakes, porridge, smoothies/juices and even eba (yes oh, one must eat what he has). I believe the most important thing is eating only when you feel hungry and not just because it’s time to eat. The debate on whether or not it’s the most important meal has to be the oldest research going back and forth.
A study done in 2013 documented a 27% increase in coronary heart disease amongst people who regularly failed to eat a meal at the start of the day. What if some people wake up by 7 am and another wakes up by 11 am?
For young children, studies have shown that eating a meal first thing in the morning has a positive influence on cognitive performance in school, especially on task-oriented behaviours but for us older people, the exact time that we eat our first meal of the day is really about personal preference.
Whether breakfast improves memory and cognitive ability or not will depend on what you are eating. Certain foods are known to specifically improve moods and increase retentive memory. If you go to bed really early, chances are that breakfast will be your most important food because you will wake up ravenous. On the other hand, if you go to bed late and probably had something to eat, you may wake up not very hungry till brunch time. So if you’re not hungry at breakfast time, do you stuff yourself up just cos it’s important? No! Your body doesn’t need it at all.
What you eat and when you eat is basically up to you and what your body really needs. I’ve seen people who feel guilty when they miss breakfast because they are told it is the most important meal of the day and once they miss it, they will fall off the weight loss ‘wagon’. Believe me it is not true. I stand for breakfast not being the most important meal of the day especially as an adult who is more self-aware and understands how your body responds to food & various meal times. Breakfast at noon is still breakfast cos you were breaking a fast.
Here is how I like to explain it; if you find that eating breakfast leaves you really slouchy before 10 am but you have more energy when you delay breakfast till like 11 am, first consider what you are having for breakfast. Refined carbs? High sugar? A breakfast of high protein, high fiber is less likely to leave you slouchy and grouchy. If however you are consuming high protein & high fiber and still going through your morning slouchy & grouchy, it’s time to do a fine assessment of your body’s relationship to food and certain times of the day.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who skip breakfast and end up binge eating the whole day from incessant cravings and fatigue, you NEED breakfast. And most importantly you need to ALWAYS plan for breakfast. Never leave it to chance. In nutrition, it’s not a one size fits all. Listen to your body.
Do you think breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Please share your own experience.
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