To have or not to have breakfast?

We're breaking it down for you.

Harper's Bazaar India

There are two kinds of people when it comes to breakfast, those who can't leave their home without it, and those who can't fathom eating before 11 am. And both teams have valid explanations.  However, irrespective of the team you may have picked, the internet seems to be trapped in this endless debate of which is the ‘healthier’ option—to have or not to have breakfast? The immediate question that typically arises is whether breakfast holds the title of being the most crucial meal of the day.

While there’s a lot that influencers on Instagram have to say, particularly about this subject, many argue that the idea that ‘breakfast is the most important meal’ in fact started as a marketing gimmick by Kellogg’s, a US-based breakfast cereal company.

Although, before industrialisation became dominant globally, breakfast was already a common practice. For example, in ancient Egypt, farmers would consume bread, beer, and onions before heading to work. Similarly, in parts of America, people would eat fruits, eggs, or any available leftovers. In ancient Greece and Rome, popular breakfast options included bread, wine-based drinks, pancakes, cheese, nuts, and more.

Over time, much has changed in the way we live: our lifestyles, occupations, needs, demands, and even our breakfast preferences. However, the lingering question remains: Is breakfast really 'important', or are we just fine without it? Do we need to turn into ‘breakfast people’, even if we hate it? 

According to Dr Deepti Lokeshappa, a nutritionist and dietitian, skipping breakfast means missing out on vital nutrients and energy essential for kickstarting your metabolism and fueling your body. She believes it may disrupt blood sugar levels, potentially leading to overeating later in the day and impacting overall eating habits.

Dr Sophia Peermohideen, a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, backs Lokeshappa up, further mentioning how skipping the morning meal may affect our minds. Glucose fuels our brains and keep our cognitive function sharp. And breakfast maintains stable blood glucose levels, crucial for optimal brain performance. When glucose drops, so does energy, leading to hunger, fatigue, and cognitive decline. She tells us that skipping breakfast can lower cognitive function and work efficiency, as shown in several studies. 

Although the reality is, not everyone has the appetite or inclination to eat a full meal first thing in the morning. Many complain that having breakfast early in the morning makes them feel nauseous. "Some people wake up feeling hungry; if that's you, then breakfast is for you. If not, you may not need to force-feed yourself," explains Luke Coutinho, an author, podcaster, and fitness influencer, in his video 'Decoding The Myths Around Breakfast'. He further justifies his statement by suggesting that when you're not hungry in the morning, it indicates your body is still undergoing its cleansing process. When it's ready for food, it will signal you by making you feel hungry.

So, what can one do about it? The key is finding a compromise that works for your individual needs and lifestyle. Step one is to understand how your body reacts in the morning and when you start feeling hungry. Is it immediately upon waking up or within an hour or two?

The next step is to start incorporating more portable, easy-to-consume breakfast options that you can take with you, like a smoothie, protein bar, or piece of fruit. These can help you reach a midway point in the problem. This way, you don’t have to have a heavy breakfast; just enough to keep your energy levels in check.

Below are tips from Dr Lokeshappa and Dr Peermohideen on how you can make breakfast a regular practise slowly. 


Start small 

Starting small is a wise approach when incorporating a breakfast routine into your lifestyle. Instead of overhauling your entire morning routine, begin by introducing simple, manageable breakfast options that can fit into your existing schedule. This could be as straightforward as preparing a nutritious smoothie, grabbing a piece of fresh fruit, or enjoying a yogurt parfait.

As the routine becomes ingrained, you can gradually expand your breakfast repertoire, introducing more substantial meals and experimenting with diverse ingredients and flavours. This gradual progression allows your body and mind to adjust naturally, increasing the likelihood of sustaining your newfound breakfast habit in the long run.

Find what you like 

Finding foods you genuinely enjoy is crucial, especially if you're not much of a breakfast person. Experiment with various options, including savory choices like eggs and toast or sweeter options like oats with fresh berries. You can also strike a balance by combining elements from both categories. The key is to explore different combinations until you discover meals that truly excite your taste buds and leave you feeling satisfied. This will make it easier to sustain your newfound breakfast habit.

Keep it easy 

When you're trying to get into a new habit, it can sometimes become overwhelming. That's why it's important to keep the preparation simple. Make the process as easy and convenient as possible by planning ahead or opting for pre-made, ready-to-eat options. Consider prepping ingredients the night before or choosing grab-and-go items like yogurt parfaits, overnight oats, or fresh fruit. This way, you can minimise the effort required in the morning, making it easier to stick to your new habit without feeling overwhelmed.

Make a routine and stick to it 

Establishing a consistent routine is essential for making breakfast a habit. Set a specific time each morning to have your first meal, whether it's right after waking up or before heading out for the day. By allocating a dedicated time slot, you create a structure that helps breakfast become an integral part of your daily routine. This consistency trains your body and mind to expect and crave the nourishment provided by a morning meal, making it easier to stick to the habit in the long run.

Set realistic goals 

In the initial week, observe how having breakfast affects your energy levels. Then, the next step is to set realistic and achievable goals around breakfast that can help build consistency over time. For example, aim to have breakfast three times a week initially, perhaps with a smoothie or even something as simple as buttered bread, then gradually increase the frequency.

Happy Breakfast-ing

Feature image credit: Pexels

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