Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day!
Let’s talk about breakfast. We call it the most important meal of the day, and in many ways it is. I’ve heard the analogy that not eating breakfast is like running your car on an empty tank. You would never do that to your car, so why in the world would you do it to your body? But just like everything else in in life, the type of fuel you use matters. In the United States we often think of breakfast as either a bowl of cereal, eggs, bacon, sausage, milk, orange juice, or oatmeal. Most of us are in such a rush we usually only eat one of those things (if we eat anything at all). That has been the standard breakfast for Americans for decades, but maybe it’s time to rethink the whole idea of what we should eat in the morning.
"Most of us are in such a rush we usually only eat one of those things (if we eat anything at all). That has been the standard breakfast for Americans for decades"
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of breakfast is cereal. And when I think cereal, I think of bright colored sugar filled bits turning my milk into a Jackson Pollock masterpiece. I remember watching Saturday morning cartoons and the breakfast commercial’s that always bright and colorful, the cartoon mascot was always trying to get the cereal and the message at the end was always, “it’s part of a complete breakfast.”
Now as an adult I look back and ask how in the world is a cereal that’s almost completely made up of sugar (and sometimes marshmallows) part of a complete anything. Now, to be fair the images of the breakfast set-up on the commercials usually included a glass of milk and orange juice, toast, and some kind of fruit. But I think most people just ate the cereal for their entire breakfast. But at its heart “part of a complete breakfast” is and always was a marketing tool to sell very, very, very, very, sugar filled cereal to children, whose parents didn’t have time to make anything else.
We have all been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but we are never really told why. There are several reasons why breakfast is the most important meal of the day, here are just a few
- Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism, which helps you burn calories
- It gives you the energy you need to get things done and helps you focus at work or at school.
- Many studies have linked eating breakfast to good health, including better memory and concentration, lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and lower chances of getting diabetes, heart disease, and being overweight.
A Brief History of Breakfast
Historian Ian Mortimer believes that the Tudors may have invented what we know as the “modern breakfast. As a side-effect of creating the concept of employment, people increasingly came to work for an employer rather than working for themselves on their own land.
They were no longer in control of their time, and had to work long hours, and sometimes go days without food. Breakfast allowed them to work longer days. The industrial revolution further cemented this idea with people moving from farms to factories (Wheeler 1). This explains how we’ve come become a society that tries to scarf down our breakfast as quickly as possible.
A few years ago, Taco Bell decided to enter the breakfast market and started an ad campaign that’s tag line was “reinventing breakfast.” I was actually excited about this idea; rethinking breakfast.
Why is it breakfast is always just a combination of eggs, breakfast meat and some form of potato? Breakfast could literally be anything we want it to be. Of course, I was very disappointed that “reinventing breakfast” just meant putting bacon/sausage, egg and hash browns in a taco shell.
I still think the idea is worth looking into; reinventing breakfast. Breakfast is just the first meal of the day we eat. The word itself means to “break” the “fast” after 8 hours of sleeping. But there’s no reason you couldn’t eat steak, or soup, or even salad. Some people may not be able to go that far, but most of the things I’ve mentioned are several times better for you than sugar cereals.
What do other Countires do?
So, if we want to really rethink the whole idea of breakfast, perhaps we should look at what other countries do for their breakfasts (American overall diets tend to be on the high fat high sugar side).Here are some examples of what people in other countries eat for breakfast from around the world.
Vegimite spread on toast
Plain croissants with almond butter, or chocolate, or cream.
Tofu scramble, lentils, veggie sausage and banana pepper toast with rosemary potatoes
Tofu with fish and rice soaked in soy sauce.
Slab of haggis served with a fried egg and sausage (also known as “Lorne”).
(Examples provided by: Pinar Noorata “Culturally Unique Breakfasts from Around the World.”)
The bottom line is, Breakfast can be literally anything we want it to be. The only true definition of breakfast is the food we eat to break the fast after sleeping. But just like every other meal, what we eat matters. Loading up on foods that are high and fat and sugar may have been a good breakfast for our ancestors who worked on farms and did a hard day doing manual labor, but it’s a terrible breakfast for someone who sits in front of a computer screen all day. A bowl of sugary cereal may be no better. But there’s no reason you couldn’t have a bowl of vegetable stew, or salad with chicken. Whatever you do decide, just make sure it would still be considered healthy.
*Leftover Pizza (the breakfast of most college students) from last night is not a healthy breakfast*
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WebMD“Breakfast: Is it the Most Important Meal of the Day?” Date Accessed: 08/31/2020 https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/breakfast-lose-weight#1
Blitz, Matt, Today I Found it: Feed Your Brain “How did Cereal Become part of a Complete Breakfast? Published 1/18/2017, Accessed 8/29/2020. http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2017/01/cereal-become-part-complete-breakfast/
Noorata, Pinar My Modern Met“Culturally Unique Breakfasts from Around the World.” Published May 9, 2013, Accessed 8/29/2020. https://mymodernmet.com/breakfasts-around-the-world/