From when we are young, it is drummed into us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But still, a quarter of Australians are regularly skipping breakfast! So we beg to ask the question, is breakfast really that important?
The word breakfast itself comes from the term breaking the fast – in other words, eating after a period of non-eating while we are asleep. When we sleep, our bodies go into repair mode and our metabolism slows down. Metabolism is the process in which our body breaks down food and drink into energy, which our body uses to function. When we wake up, our metabolism returns to normal, and for most of us, we begin to feel hungry, as our body is asking for food to convert into energy!
For some people, they can last a little while longer after waking up before feeling hungry and requiring more energy from a food source. However, for a lot of us, skipping breakfast can result in us feeling tired, dizzy, having headaches and altogether low. This is because our body and brain is craving a fresh hit of energy, ideally in the form of glucose.
Glucose is a broken-down component of carbohydrates and our brain’s favourite energy source. This is the reason our grain foods, especially whole grains, can give us long lasting energy. Grain foods are high in carbohydrates, which are slowly broken down into glucose in our digestive system, therefore providing a steady stream of energy to our brain and body.
When we think of breakfast foods, we can see they are often high in carbohydrates -like multigrain toast, Weet-bix, and oatmeal. These breakfast foods are also high in fibre, which is a nutrient most Australians are lacking. So breakfast is a great opportunity to not only kick off the day with some long lasting energy, but also toget a good kick of fibre in the morning.
You may not wake up hungry, but with work and school, your next chance to eat may be hours away. If you are finding yourself starving, getting headaches or feeling tired before your next snack or meal, maybe it’s best to have something small for breakfast to tie you over until you can next have something to eat. As for being the most important meal of the day? This was originally a marketing slogan put together by breakfast cereal giant, Kelloggs, to sell breakfast cereal! However, it turns out they may not have been too far off the mark. Research has shown that having breakfast can have a positive impact on memory, cognition, mood and work performance, as well as decrease the risk of certain diseases.
Breakfast is great for all these reasons, but really, our overall aim should be to eat regular, nutritious meals throughout the day and listen to our bodies to tell us if we need more food.
– Written by Melinda Piestch
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Smith, K.J., Breslin, M.C., McNaughton, S.A., Gall, S.L., Blizzard, L. and Venn, A.J. (2017), Skipping breakfast among Australian children and adolescents; findings from the 2011–12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 41: 572-578. https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.12715