Food for Thought - Are You Sabotaging Your Health with What You Eat? Part 8 - Breakfast

By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist

Here's a little something to chew on.... eating breakfast may be sabotaging your health!

No, I haven't lost my mind.  I know this goes against every bit of popular wisdom but it's true.

Think about it....

Most of the world eats very little for breakfast.... and I'm not talking about starving nations.

Most cultures have a tradition of  a bit of carb, a small cup of caffeine (like coffee, tea or cocoa) and maybe a little dairy (milk in the coffee or tea, a piece of cheese and maybe some butter).

Take a close look at my words.... a BIT of carb (a small roll, a small croissant, a slice of bread)..... a small cup of caffeine (4 to 6 oz.) and a little dairy (enough milk to make cafe au lait, whiten tea or a cube of cheese).

We eat piles of carbs and mountains of dairy for pancakes covered in syrup, bowls of cereal swimming in gallons of milk and pounds of cheese stuffed into omelets.

And let's not forget caffeine..... 24 oz take out cups of coffee, refillable mega mugs of caffeine laced sodas and (yikes) energy boost shooters (super caffeinated coffee substitutes).

It's no wonder we're getting fat-fat-fat and no matter how much caffeine we down we don't have an ounce of energy to spare.

Our way of eating breakfast is more punishment to the body than health giving nutrition.... and teaching children this pattern of eating is just plain wrong.  So how did we get this way?    Let's take a closer look.

This big breakfast habit of ours was based on need and, at the time, was a good thing.

Hundreds of years ago, when we were strictly a farming culture, people got up early to go to the fields and didn't come back till dark. The farms were big and the fields were often far from the house.

A big, hot breakfast (with a light lunch eaten in the field) sustained them until they got back home for supper.  They were tired and hungry so supper was, again a big, hot meal.

Fast forward to the factory era.... same basic idea.... the jobs were often far from home so they had a big breakfast, a small take along lunch, then a big supper when they got home.

Our work habits have changed, we're more desk and car bound, but our eating habits haven't.  Add to that the availability of prepared food 24/7.

We still eat a big breakfast and big supper but we add a big lunch at mid day, too. On top of this, portions are all supper sized.

It's easy to see that our habits of the past need some up-dating.

Should you be eating a small breakfast - a big breakfast or no breakfast at all?

Well, that depends.....  how do you feel?   How's your energy level?

Your age makes a difference.  Children, for example, need something in their tummies before heading out to school but how much they need depends on the child.

Your health makes a difference, too.  Frail people and those undergoing medical treatments, for example, may do better with breakfast.  It just depends.

Keep a journal for the next few weeks jotting down when and what you eat for breakfast.  Note how you feel. Then tweak your eating.  Eat the way that makes you feel best more often.

It doesn't matter whether your breakfast is big, small or none at all.
What matters is how you feel.

If you find that a small breakfast gives you more sustained energy, then choose it more often and save those big (yummy) American breakfasts for a holiday brunch.

If a large breakfast works better for you, then by all means, enjoy it.

If you feel best waiting until lunch to eat that's OK, too.

There is no one right way to have (or not have) breakfast.

Eating fuels the body and should make you feel great.

If you're not feeling great, you're eating the wrong kinds of food.... or just too much!



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