“Eat Breakfast Like a King, Lunch Like a Prince, and Dinner Like a Pauper”. This slogan can be taken as the main mantra to stay fit and healthy. In the morning, we are stuck in our bed like a magnet and it is easy to let breakfast fall low on our list of priorities, but taking just a few minutes to have something to eat can really make a difference to our day. Breakfast provides the body and brain with fuel after an overnight fast - that's where its name originates, breaking the fast.It kick-starts our metabolism, helping us burn calories throughout the day. It also gives us the energy to get things done and helps us focus at work or at school. Without breakfast, we are effectively running on empty, like trying to start the car with no petrol.
Apart from providing us with energy, breakfast foods are good sources of important nutrients such as calcium, iron and vitaminB as well as protein and fiber. The body needs these essential nutrients and research shows that if these are missed at breakfast, they are less likely to be compensated for later in the day. Fruit and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals so we should include a portion of these on daily breakfast, whether that is a banana or glass of fruit juice.
Nutritionists advise to eat breakfast within two hours of waking and a healthy breakfast should provide calories in the range of 20-35% of our guideline daily allowance (GDA).Many people skip the a.m. meal because they are rushing to get out the door. That’s a mistake. We need food in our system long before lunchtime. If you don’t eat first thing, you may get so hungry later on that you snack on high-fat, high sugar foods. Research shows those who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight and more likely to be within their ideal weight range compared with breakfast skippers. If we skip breakfast, we are more likely to reach for high sugar and fatty snacks mid-morning.
Our best bet is a mix of foods that have carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Carbs will give you energy right away, and the protein will give you it later on. Fiber keeps you feeling full. Try a whole-grain cereal, low-fat milk, and fruit, or a breakfast smoothie made with low-fat yogurt, fruit, and a teaspoon of bran. Nuts or whole-grain granola bars are also easy options.
The Importance of Breakfast
Keeps you focused
Eating breakfast helps us feel more focused for the coming day, whether we are at work or simply getting on with our daily routines. There’s nothing worse than being constantly aware that we are hungry and counting the minutes until lunchtime. Eating food in the morning not only fuels us until lunchtime but actually gives our brains the essential energy to function and focus better on tasks.
The foods we eat are intrinsically linked to our moods, and whilst many of us aren’t morning people, we’ll be less grumpy if we get a good breakfast. This is because eating in the morning gives our bodies that essential boost to get us going and also balances blood sugars to prevent those tired and cranky feelings.
Controls your appetite
Those that are calorie-conscious could be forgiven for thinking that skipping out a meal will help them lose weight, but in fact, the opposite may happen instead. If we don’t eat breakfast, we’re much more likely to end up snacking throughout the morning, which could pile up the unhealthy calories! We should stay away from overly-refined snacks with added sugar, so if we do feel like snacking, fruit and nut barsare just what we need.
This may not come as a surprise, but if we don’t eat, we won’t feel so great. This especially applies to our first meal of the day. Our bodies need the energy to function, and that energy comes from food. As soon as we start eating in the morning, we kickstart our body chemistry that gets us feeling energized and ready for the day.
Breakfast also restores glucose levels, an essential carbohydrate that is needed for the brain to function. Many studies have shown how eating breakfast can improve memory and concentration levels and it can also make us happier as it can improve mood and lower stress levels. In studies amongst children, breakfast can improve attainment, behavior and has been linked to improved grades. Just like any other organ in the body, the brain needs the energy to work at its best.
Long term health
Eating breakfast has long term health benefits. It can reduce obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, reduced fatigue and improved productivity, complete nutrients and provideinsulin resistance prevention.
Breakfast is an excellent occasion to eat together as a family when possible. Establishing good breakfast habits in childhood and maintaining them throughout adolescence may be an important factor in reducing the prevalence of breakfast skipping and developing good eating habits that last a lifetime. So, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.
(Writer Sital Pokhrel is persuing her master’s Degree in Business Administration.)