They say ignorance is bliss but there are times when ignorance of people makes me unhappy. One such instance is when people do not believe breakfast is important and decided not to include it in their routine. It is said that one should eat like a king for breakfast, queen for lunch and popper for dinner. Unfortunately for a lot of people, for reasons of their own, dinner happens to be the largest meal and breakfast is the first one to be skipped. I have always thought that to a large degree, you are what you eat so I think food plays an important part in your life, especially the quality of life. That is among the reasons why I take time and effort not to just prepare good food but also to write a lot about it so I spread some consciousness in whatever little way I can. Reason I say it makes me sad is because the effects of skipping breakfast may not be seen instantly. But over time an individual will need to face the consequences. When some of my friends say they do not have breakfast I feel bad as they are not doing any good for their body. In this article I hope to summarise what I have read and understood about the importance of breakfast and also some simple yet fast breakfast ideas to make it easier for you.
Let Us Examine the impact of having or not having breakfast to better understand why bother with breakfast Weight management – many believe that skipping breakfast so they reduce calories would help them lose weight. It cannot be farther from the truth. When we sleep during the night, our body slows down, so metabolism slows down. When we have something to eat in the morning, we’re effectively giving the signal to the body that the day has begun and metabolism should increase. However, those who skip breakfast deny their body of the signal in order that they feel lethargic as they continue until lunch with slow metabolism. When one feels lethargic and tired, one tends to work less, physically and in turn burns fewer calories. Also, once the body is deprived of food for a very long time, cravings begin, especially sugar cravings. This is when we feel like snacking on a chocolate bar or a massive fat muffin or cakes etc.. This effectively increases the calorie consumption. In summary, a slow metabolism, tired body burning calories and high calorie/fat snacks efficiently contribute to weight gain rather than weight loss. All of us keep hearing about the many health conditions that can come with being obese, especially risk of heart diseases and skipping breakfast could possibly lead to being overweight. Lowered cognition – studies have said to have shown that children who have breakfast fare better in problem solving than children who skip breakfast.
Remember that it isn’t just the rest of the body that gets energy from digested food but also the brain. After the mind is low on energy, one can’t expect it to operate effectively. Some studies also show that children who skip breakfast are more likely to have problems focusing and also have issues with memory in comparison with children who have breakfast.
3. Type 2 diabetes – skipping breakfast is thought to increase the chance of developing type 2 diabetes. If a person is already diabetic, it is even more important to maintain sugar fluctuations low which means the body has to be fed at regular intervals. Diabetes is a state of the body that’s not especially easy to manage as the complications of diabetes can be quite serious from losing eye sight, heart attacks, having to be amputated. If one is overweight, the complications get even worse. The effect of diabetes might not be understood immediately but the body will be deteriorating gradually. Keeping the blood sugar in check is absolutely important while living with diabetes and skipping meals, that too breakfast will be highly counter-productive for diabetes management.
4. Menstrual irregularities – some studies are said to have shown that girls/women who skip breakfast are most likely to have irregular periods. Poor mood – low glucose is said to be responsible for irritability fatigue and tiredness. Some studies show that those who skip breakfast snap at others more easily.
To me the chance of weight gain (and all associated health risks due to being obese) and risk of diabetes alone are enough to make me run for my breakfast. When it comes to kids, it’s extremely important to set up healthy eating habit at an early stage and therefore, having breakfast is important. With children getting less and less playtime and exercise these days it’s all the more important for them to eat healthy. There is no point in sending them to school to learn stuff if they can’t concentrate and as parents, we need to give them sufficient support to enable them to learn. Hopefully, by now you’re at least thinking about having breakfast.
I come from a tamil Brahmin family and Brahmin meal program is very well known because most of them have a enormous mid morning meal, later in the day a tiffin or lighter meal is consumed while dinner occasionally is liquid ingestion or fruits or some cereals, if not curd rice. Reason I mention that is that though some people criticise them for using a heavy meal that ancient, what modern day dieticians are advising is pretty much similar – have a large breakfast. The meal would normally consist of rice (carbohydrates), dal (protein), vegetables (vitamins and minerals) and ghee (fat) and unless I got it all wrong, this is exactly what makes a balanced meal. At this day and age, we barely have enough time to make all these before we walk out of their doorways to work and neither would our working hours allow such a program. So, what are some quick breakfast alternatives you could try.
1. Oats porridge – boil a few tablespoon of oats in water until it’s done (regular oats is far better than quick cooking and honestly doesn’t take much time to cook anyway). If you like it sweet, add some milk, sugar or honey or any other sensible sweetener of choice. If you like savory, then add some buttermilk and small salt and consume. Either way, have a banana or any other fruit of choice. Breakfast shake – milk shake or sodas make great breakfast. Combine a banana sweetened with date syrup or any other natural sweetener (avoid synthetic sweetners or processed sugar) along with some milk. Top with crushed nuts and drink. Adding oat milk rather than cow’s milk can help reduce calories and fat and also lend to fibre intake. You could try the same with apple too. You could also use a spoon of wheat germ.
3. Muffin – having a low sugar, bran loaded muffin is a superb way to fill you up for the morning. Top a healthy muffin with berries and eat along with a glass of juice. Plenty of healthy muffin recipes can be found, try making enough over the weekend itself. I’d say it probably takes about 10 minutes to make the muffin batter and about 20 minutes baking time which would be your breakfast sorted for a week! Breakfast sandwich – you can make those with leftovers too. You can use chapattis or pita breads or wholemeal breads and stuff them with leftover sabjis or any vegetable of choice. Over the weekends I tend to quickly sauté grated courgette, spice it with cumin, chilly and coriander powder and make a grilled wholemeal sandwich. This helps me get one of my five a day vegetables also. Peanut butter sandwich is an excellent option also. Toast and legumes – beans also contribute to one of five a day. This alternative is okay if you’ve got the time to sit down and have your breakfast. Low fat flapjacks – I create my own flapjack that is a bit more chewy than regular ones. I use very little brown sugar add dry fruits and dates syrup to sweeten instead. Believe it or not smallish portions of those oats rich almost no added fat flapjacks are a great start to the day.
7. Multi grain porridge – back home it is common practice for mothers to produce a multi grain powder. It usually consists or wheat, barley, finger millet, sago, almonds and cardamom for flavouring. One can add few heaped spoons of the to water, bring to boil while stirring, add jaggery or sugar and milk. Healthy pancakes – create your own pancake mix by adding either the aforementioned porridge powder or wholewheat powder along with some millet powder. Add mashed banana or pureed berries or apple, if you would like it sweeter, add syrup like dates syrup to produce a batter. I often skip the baking powder or soda bicarb as it inhibits nutrition absorption. You could add small all purpose flour to facilitate flipping the pancake. Pour the batter on hot tava and drizzle oil/butter/ghee.
9. Bread omelet – beat an egg and add salt and required vegetables such as tomato, onion, mushroom etc. and make an omelet. Having protein earlier in the day is said to be better than later. Museli – combine wheat flakes, oat flakes, rye flakes, barley flakes with some dry fruits like raisins, currants, seeds such as pumpkin seeds. Quick French toast – cut couple of bread pieces into four triangles each. Drizzle some oil or butter while cooking. Cook both sides and that is a good breakfast on the move.
12. Millet gruel – Millet is usually considered poor man’s food but truth is many men and women who work hard physically possess ragi gruel often for breakfast. It keeps them full for long although they are involved in intense work. 1 way of preparing is very similar to multi grain porridge mentioned before. Another method is to mix it with some buttermilk and let it sit overnight. Next morning add little water if needed and cook while stirring, until it’s shiny. Season with salt and drink. Millets are low fat protein sources.
I hope at least one or two of the above options match your taste and timing. On weekends you can indulge a bit more by making cooked breakfast and several such recipes are available on my site as well.
Make healthy choices for your life, remember, prevention is better than cure. One can skip any meal, but not breakfast no matter whether one is hungry or not. For the other meals you can go in accordance with your body, eat when hungry but breakfast is an exception. Do not wait for the ‘right’ day to start having breakfast, there is no bad time to do the perfect thing. Live long, live happy, live healthy!