In the modern restless world, everyone is trying to fulfil their professional and personal targets and deadlines in a limited period, hence tend to miss a few essentials of daily routine. This is bringing changes in lifestyle, and eating patterns, leading to an increase in diseases and health complications.
One of the major alternations in meal patterns nowadays is, the omission or skipping of breakfast (B/F). Insufficient B/F contributes to dietary inadequacies and accompanying nutritional losses, which are rarely made up by other meals during the remainder of the day. Despite the health of benefits, studies have reported that a good number of people skip breakfast frequently. So it is of utmost importance to re-establish and renew the key health beneficial facts of eating B/F daily.
What is breakfast?
It is the first meal of the day that breaks the fast after the longest period of sleep and is consumed within 2 to 3 hours of waking. B/F intake is an important indicator of a healthy lifestyle. It makes a large contribution to daily micronutrient intake. Also bring changes in metabolism, leading to improved diet quality, better food choices, a positive impact on well-being and induce healthy habits throughout life.
The benefits of breakfast
- Ensures a balanced intake of all nutrients and food
- Encourages to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables
- Helps lead to having an orderly life and set appropriate wake-up and sleep time
- Improves sleep quality and reduces the risk of insomnia
- Augments mental health, performance, problem-solving ability and over-positive attitude
- Reduces negative feelings like stress, irritation, mood swings and depression
- Enhances physical fitness and strength
What is skipping breakfast?
It is defined as not having B/F at least 6 times a week, having B/F less than 2 days a week and rarely or never eating B/F. The body is regulated by circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are influenced by the light-dark cycle and food uptake, which is the metabolic signal. Inversely, circadian regulation of metabolic genes affects metabolic outcomes in the body, which signifies feeding. Time and the circadian clock are tightly intertwined. B/F is important to jumpstart daily metabolism. Studies showed that B/F skipping adversely affects circadian gene expression and correlates with increased postprandial glycemic response.
B/F skipping is an important determinant of an unhealthy lifestyle and other health-risk behaviours, including alcohol use, smoking, and sedentary lifestyle, as well as low educational attainment, mood changes, and depressive symptoms. It has also been associated with a lower quality of life and chronic stress which may, in turn, increase the lifetime risk of cardiometabolic disease.
B/F skipping and health effects
- High mortality rates and serum cholesterol levels
- Frequent health complications and infections
- Reduced satiety
- Increased food cravings and metabolic abnormalities
- Poor cognitive function and work performance
- Consume unhealthy foods and beverages and tend to overeat throughout the day
Reasons to skip breakfast
- Don’t feel hungry in the morning
- Could not get up early enough to have B/F at home
- Don’t have time to eat
- Not like to eat early
- Don’t like the food option present
- Not having anyone to prepare B/F
- Want to lose weight and following unhealthy weight management FAD diets and practices
- Don’t find ready food to eat available
- Long screen time and less sleep leading to frequent feeling of lethargy and less hungry in the morning
Effect of the home environment on breakfast consumption
- Parents skip B/F regularly, hence children learn the same
- Both parents out for work and lower B/F benefit awareness and motivation among children made them make poor food choices
- Parents are responsible for the availability of foods, setting the rules, and initiating family meal patterns.
- Parents not only influence their children’s decision to eat breakfast, but also the food they choose
How an ideal B/F should be?
A good quality breakfast should provide energy and essential nutrients balanced in proportion to daily needs, and meet individual tastes in a form that is accessible and affordable. Standard nutritional recommendations suggest that an ideal breakfast meal should contain 20 to 35% of daily energy derived from three food groups, including milk and milk derivatives, cereals (unrefined and whole grain) and fresh fruit or juice without added sugar
- Should make feel full for a longer time
- Include less starchy and more complex carbohydrates, so that glucose release into the bloodstream happens slowly. Add foods like whole wheat, ragi, oats, bajra, suji, poha etc
- Choose high-quality low-fat protein sources like soy, eggs, sprouts, boiled channa etc
- Avoid too much use of oil, saturated fat, butter, cheese, sugar and salt
- Have a glass of low-fat milk/less sugar tea or coffee/smoothie/milkshake
- Include a seasonal fruit
Easy tips to add B/F to the daily routine
- Parents should set an example for their children by following healthy B/F eating habits
- Have at least one meal together and holiday B/F with the whole family
- Set a specific time to have B/F together
- Plan, shop and prepare meal menu in advance
- Allocate dining duties to each family member to promote shared experience and bonding
- Turn off distractions like the TV, computer, tablets and phones during mealtimes
- Keep toys and books off the table, and talk to children while eating meals
- Get breakfast organized the night before
- In case of a busy morning schedule, choose simple food options instead of aiming for making difficult preparations
As the first meal of the day, breakfast plays an important role in supplying energy and nutrients. After sleeping through the night, the body needs to refresh and regain energy and nutrients in order to engage in the day’s activities. “B/F”, which is derived from the combination of “break” and “fast”, must provide sufficiently nutritious food options for optimal physiological health and physical and mental wellbeing of the body throughout the day.
A high-quality breakfast provides adequate energy and nutrients for working and learning activities. In contrast, a low-quality B/F or no B/F leads to lower work efficiency, a large compensatory increase in food intake at the next meal and an excessive burden on the gastrointestinal tract.
Many are not able to consume B/F consistently due to several reasons or obstacles. Continuous awareness should be focused and targeted toward resolving the root cause of B/F skipping rather than simply promoting the benefits of B/F. Emphasis should be on eating a healthy B/F to boost morning positive mood and maintain the right energy throughout the day.
- Public Health Nutrition,2007; 10(1):55–58
- BMC Nutrition (2021) 7:42
- Nutr Metab (Lond),2021;18:8:2-10
- Adv Nutr 2016;7(Suppl):590S–612S