Success Sundays - Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?
I think I’ve probably tried just about every diet going and looking back the one thing that most of them seem to have in common is that they would tell you “breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Start your day right with a healthy breakfast and you set yourself up for The rest of the day” but I have not found this to be true in my experience in fact it has been quite the opposite. In diets in the past I would religiously weigh out my bowl of low fat cereal and 120 mL of skimmed milk and shovel it in to my mouth even though at 7 am I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry. The result of this? By 10 am I wanted to eat an entire packet of biscuits. And I did. For me all breakfast seemed to do was to start my eating engine in the morning.
Even when I did a low-carb diet in the past I still stuck to this mantra of you must eat a good breakfast. I would start the diet having bacon and eggs and thinking ‘wow this diet is fantastic!’ but after about a week I would be completely sick of the sight of bacon and eggs and would be desperately craving a slice of toast or a bowl of cereal for my breakfast. I would get really quite stressed trying to think of what I could have for breakfast on a low-carb diet. I didn’t seem to fancy anything. For me at 7 o’clock in the morning I just don’t want to eat cold meat and cheese every day or a boiled egg (minus the soldiers). I would actually begin to get a real depressed feeling in the mornings when I would wake up knowing I had to stomach a low-carb frittata or similar. It never really occurred to me that I was allowed to skip breakfast and the end result was that I would usually give up on the diet because when I thought about eating breakfast what I really wanted was a large bowl of crunchy nut cornflakes with creamy milk followed by toast. So usually after two or three weeks of wrestling down bacon and eggs or something similar every morning I would start to feel sick at the thought of low-carb food and I would just give up.
So it was an absolute revelation to me this time round when I read about intermittent fasting and how it was fine to skip breakfast. I’ll be honest - the word fasting scared me a little when I first heard it. To me that word means being hungry. Let me tell you there’s one thing I never am and that’s hungry! Instead this was just permission to not have to bother even thinking about breakfast. To not have to worry if I got up and went to work without having eaten and what I soon noticed was that all the stress that I used to experience about ‘what shall I have for breakfast?’ soon disappeared. 10 am came and went without me craving an entire packet of biscuits and now my first meal of the day is usually lunch at about 1 pm and don’t get me wrong I’m not doing this to be a martyr it’s genuinely the pattern of eating that suits me.
Now I know this might not suit everyone in fact I have friends who tell me they feel ill if they don’t eat breakfast and that’s fine for them in fact neither of them need to lose weight but I think the takeaway message from this is that you’ve got to get to know yourself and know what works for you and listen to what your mind and body are telling you. Mine was screaming ‘Don’t worry about breakfast, get on with your day then eat when you’re hungry’. For you it might be something different. Instead of slavishly following whatever a diet plan says, take a step back and think ‘how is this going to work for me?’ Because trust me, if you’re going to make it work for you it has to be something that is easy to do that fits itself to your way of life and that you can carry on doing for the long-term.
But more about the long term another day...