You have probably heard that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” more times than you could ever count. This mantra often came from the most reputable sources you had as a child: your parents, grandparents and teachers.
This message has been ingrained into your belief system since you were a toddler, and this notion was continually reinforced by society at large through the media. As a young child how could you not be swept up by the latest, colourful cereal craze, especially when there is always an amazing prize in store at the bottom of the box?
In 2007 the Counsel of Better Business Bureaus in the United States launched a program called the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative to force cereal manufacturers to make sure their advertisements advertise focus on the nutritional value of their products.
You probably never once stopped to question why breakfast is so critical, and you had reason to. Your parents, teachers, and the media have all followed the same script. The government is implementing programs to make sure that the media is advertising the nutritional value of the most popular breakfast food in America. Take a minute to stop and think about why breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Can you answer?
The definition of the word breakfast is the first meal of the day and its origin was derived from the late Middle English verbs break and fast. The word literally means to break the fasting period from the day before. It does not mean to make sure you fill your bellies within minutes of waking. No matter what time you eat after a night’s sleep is your breakfast whether it is 5:00 am or 5:00 pm because it is when you break your fast. Prior to the mid 13th century dinner was actually the first meal of the day. In Europe eating early in the day was originally thought to be a sin associated with overindulgence and gluttony. Many other cultures such as the Egyptians would only have coffee and would not break their fasts until noon.
In our IDM Program we believe breakfast should be understood in its literal meaning – to break your fast – and the longer you can go without breaking your fast, the better. Why? Because you are giving your body a break! You are giving your body a break from producing insulin every time you eat, which can lead to insulin resistance in the long-term.
During this break your body has a chance to metabolize or burn excess sugar stored in the liver from the days before. This helps maintain the integrity of your insulin sensitivity, and prevent the development of insulin resistance, obesity, type II Diabetes Mellitus and fatty liver disease.
You might think you need to eat first thing in the morning so your body has fuel to start the day, but the truth of the matter is you have leftover fuel stored inside of you. Over time it is precisely this excess fuel that becomes hazardous to your health.
So, breakfast is certainly an important meal but it does not need to be consumed as soon as you roll off the bed. Breaking your fast with sugary cereal and a muffin is certainly not healthy. You can break your fast at noontime with a healthy salad and a piece of salmon. Have a cup of coffee in the morning. Have a cup of water.
Morning meal suggestions for those who “just have to eat”
If cutting out your morning meal seems to be too much of a challenge at first, then try eating something high in natural fats and low in carbohydrates.
Who doesn’t love eggs? Eggs are packed with healthy fats and cholesterols and they won’t cause your blood sugar levels to spike. You don’t have to always eat them hardboiled either.
- Fried eggs
If you want to make eggs even better try frying them with coconut oil or butter. What is better than cooking healthy fats with healthy fats?
You can make omelets jam packed with your favourite vegetables, and unprocessed meats and cheeses. There are dozens of combinations you can make and customize to your own taste buds.
Yoghurt with berries and flaxseed
While Natural, unprocessed yoghurt can taste a bit tangy, it is actually pretty good for you. Just mix insome fresh berries aome freshly ground flaxseed, and you have a nutritious meal full of healthy fibre. Avoid the highly sweetened or artificially sweetened yoghurt with fruit that is usually sold in the supermarkets.
Steele-cut oatmeal with berries and flaxseed
This is not instant oat meal and can sometimes take awhile to cook. Steele-cut oats are always a healthier alternative to the instant oats because they are not as processed. Don’t be fooled though – they are still high in carbohydrates. To moderate the effects of the carbohydrates on your blood sugar level the best way to eat them is fresh berries and flaxseed.
Berries, apples and pears
A small serving of these fruits can be ideal for people on the go. Their skin is full of fibre that will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and satiate your hunger pangs throughout the morning.
A mix of nuts and seeds
Also great for those on the run are nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pine nuts and Brazil nuts. They are full of healthy fats. You can mix them up in a small container and throw in some pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and chia seeds to make your own trail mix.
By The Fasting Method
For many health reasons, losing weight is important. It can improve your blood sugars, blood pressure and metabolic health, lowering your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. But it’s not easy. That’s where we can help.
By Jason Fung, MD
Jason Fung, M.D., is a Toronto-based nephrologist (kidney specialist) and a world leading expert in intermittent fasting and low-carb diets.