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No breakfast? What's your excuse?
Rohini Cardoso e Diniz |
April 13, 2006
It doesn't matter if you are a college student, a working person, a new mother or a housewife, lack of time in the morning is the most common excuse for dodging breakfast.
You gulp down a cup of tea or coffee in the morning and survive on that till your next meal.
'I want to lose weight'
Yet another common reason for skipping breakfast -- this helps you lose weight. In reality, breakfast skippers do NOT lose weight as they may eat more than usual at the next meal or nibble on high calorie snacks to curb hunger.
A study conducted at the George Washington University USA, found that breakfast eaters had metabolic rates 3 to 4 per cent above average while breakfast skippers demonstrated sluggish rates, 4 to 5 per cent below average!
This means that during the course of the year breakfast skippers actually conserve 4 ½ to 7 kilogrammes of body fat!
'I don't feel hungry'
Reason number three -- a lack of appetite. This often happens because people tend to eat late dinners and sleep immediately thereafter. During sleep the digestion is sluggish resulting in the feeling of fullness in the morning.
This results in a vicious cycle -- no breakfast and too heavy a lunch, finally resulting in health problems. As a solution have dinner by latest 10 pm, preferably by 8.30 pm and wait one hour post dinner before you sleep.
Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dine like a pauper
Heed this mantra because your breakfast is THE most important meal of the day. It literally breaks your overnight fast, which can last from 12 to 16 hours depending on what time you had dinner the previous night.
It helps you recharge your energy levels in the morning, which if not boosted will make you feel tired and hungry; you could end up snacking on high calorie snacks or overeat at lunch. Eating breakfast also stimulates the metabolism, which may slow down overnight.
Why breakfast is a MUST
Having trouble concentrating at work or studies? Feeling grouchy or lethargic? Here's why.
~ Memory is the worst affected by hunger as the brain requires a minute-to-minute supply of glucose for its normal functioning. Breakfast helps replenish the blood glucose levels, which in turn is the brain's fuel.
~ Research conducted across the world has shown that children who eat breakfast think faster and clearly, solve problems more easily and are less likely to be fidgety and irritable early in the day.
While those who go hungry to school are poor learners as skipping breakfast has a direct effect on a child's scholastic performance. They are not as adept at selecting the information they need to solve problems. Their ability to recall and use new information, verbal fluency and attentiveness are all affected by hunger.
~ People who skip breakfast have less energy and slower reactions. They are unable to concentrate and think fast and may suffer stomach aches, headaches and feel grouchy.
~ Skipping breakfast makes you so hungry by lunch time that you become a victim of the 'gobble syndrome,' which is bad for the stomach as the secretion of the digestive juices does not match with the rapid food intake. Also by eating fast, one tends to overeat.
~ Studies have also shown that the nutrients missed by skipping breakfast cannot be compensated for in other meals, as the body is unable to process the vital nutrients optimally if consumed all at once.
~ Researchers in the US have found that skipping breakfast routinely can indirectly increase the chances of developing diabetes and heart disease as the sugar deficient body craves for fatty foods which are hard to resist.
~ Research studies have also shown that the human body tends to accumulate more fat when a person eats fewer, larger meals than when the same number of calories was consumed in smaller, more frequent meals.
~ The deficiency of vitamins and minerals created by skipping breakfast cannot be made up for later in the day as the body is not able to utilise the vital nutrients if consumed all at once.
Breakfast tips for good health
~ Ensure that your breakfast contains adequate amounts of high fibre cereal products such as whole wheat or multigrain bread, muesli, chapattis, rice flakes (poha), bulgar or broken wheat (dalia), nachni or finger millet porridges, oats.
You could also opt for a south Indian breakfast with idlis, dosas, puttu as these provide adequate amounts of carbohydrates which supplies the bulk of energy from breakfast.
~ Avoid breakfasts containing large amounts of sugar as it give an initial energy boost, but leaves one feeling drowsy within a few hours.
~ Complement the cereal with a serving of protein rich food such as egg (poached or boiled and not fried) or pulse preparations (such as usal, missal, sambhar) or roasted nuts (ideally six almonds and two dates) or cheese (preferably low fat paneer instead of processed cheese). Breakfasts containing adequate amount of carbohydrate and protein ensures a steady supply of glucose and hence energy over a longer period of time.
~ Avoid fried foods and butter substitutes such as margarine as they contain fat and people tend to eat too much of them because they feel they are fat free.
To avoid falling in the fat trap eat small amounts of butter on warm toast or better still try spreading a teaspoon of olive oil on warmed toast as the strong flavour of olive oil makes you eat less.
Peanut butter is also another healthier option, because it is high on protein and contains heart-friendly monounsaturated fats.
~ Eat cut fruit instead of drinking fruit juices for breakfast as the fibre in the fruit slows the digestion of the natural sugars present in the fruit thereby preventing blood sugar from shooting up.
~ Try having vegetable juice instead of tea or coffee along with breakfast. Tea and to some extent coffee contains tannins that prevents the absorption of iron. If you cannot do without your morning cuppa try having it half an hour before breakfast.
~ Malted beverage powders such as Horlicks, Bournvita, Boost, Milo etc can be added to the milk of children who do not eat enough quantity of food.
However it must be kept in mind that these should be used as a supplement and not as a substitute to a balanced diet.
Quick-fix breakfast recipes
Here are a few easy breakfast recipes for those who are hard pressed for time:
~ Blend half a glass of low fat curd or yoghurt, one medium sized banana and two teaspoons of honey for one minute.
Pour into a glass and sprinkle with a pinch of wheat germ (available at heath shops) and sip for a power packed breakfast.
~ Fill half a mug with muesli and add skim milk or soya milk. Add some chopped apple and consume.
~ Keep a bowl of sprouted pulses in the refrigerator. Lightly steam a handful (or cook with very little water) and season with lemon juice and seasonings as desired like chilly powder, chaat masala, pepper, salt, cumin powder, sesame seeds etc for a natural and power packed breakfast.
Rohini Cardoso e Diniz is a consultant dietician with Naomi's Fitness Centre and manages a private practice in Goa.