Monday, January 17, 2011

•Why breakfast

Wake up, freshen up and dress up. Keys? Check! Wallet /

purse? Check! Cellphone? Check! Time to go to the office. In

the mad rush, whatever happened to breakfast? "Wait!

Breakfast? Who eats breakfast?" Sounds like a familiar

scenario? You are not the only one. Living life in the fast lane,

we tend to forget the very basics of nutrition: that the body

needs energy in the morning and that it is this morning meal

that decides our diet for the rest of the day.

Why breakfast?

There is a reason humanity has a name

for the first meal of the day. Our bodies

are deprived of food while we sleep,

which means we go without fuel for

over 10-12 hours of the night. And

since every morning is the start of an

activity-filled day, we need to refuel to

start off the day. The word breakfast

itself is a compound of the words break and fast, implying we

are ending a long period of fasting.

So, without talking medical terms and without breaking our

heads over the jargon derived from Greek and Latin, let us look

into why breaking that fast is necessary.

Firstly, a timely morning meal provides the necessary nutrients

that our bodies need in the first half of the day. Research shows

that working people who eat regular breakfast feel more

productive and efficient at the workplace as compared to

people who skip out on the first meal of the day. Kids who eat

an adequate breakfast every morning perform better at school

and exhibit quicker learning abilities as compared to children

who skip breakfast or do not eat right in the morning. Come to

think of it, it makes sense. Going to work on an empty stomach

isn't ideal, not to mention unhealthy. Motivation apart, where's

the energy to work? And energy is necessary for everyone.

While our desk jobs may not require a lot of physical activity,

our brains need blood glucose to keep our bodies active. That is

what breakfast gives us.

Secondly, we feel full after eating breakfast and hence, it's

easier to avoid the temptation to indulge in heavy meals later in

the day. A very heavy lunch makes us sleepy and a heavy dinner

is not very healthy. In fact, people who exercise a lot or are into

body-building follow an inverted pyramid diet routine where

the breakfast is the heaviest meal of the day. Even for those of

us who use more brains than muscles, a filling breakfast is

necessary and it is advisable to avoid a heavy lunch or dinner.

More importantly, our bodies are used to digesting three meals a

day. Digestion is a long process and most of the actions that

comprise the process of digestion are involuntary. Since most of

us have been eating meals thrice a day since childhood, our

stomachs produce digestive juices at these programmed

intervals. When the digestive juice, of which hydrochloric acid

is a major component, does not find food to digest in the tummy,

it then turns to the linings of the stomach. This is more than

harmful to the lining of the stomach. Keeping the stomach

empty will result in the walls of the food passage getting

corroded, leading to gastritis (inflammation of the stomach

lining), ulcers and excessive production of gas. All this leaves us

with an experience of discomfort and in the long run, causes

severe health problems.

People who eat breakfast regularly are also less likely to develop

type- II Diabetes and are less likely to become obese.

What to eat

Our bodies work on energy. And energy is most easily derived

from glucose. Hence, a healthy breakfast should contain an

adequate amount of starch and carbohydrates. These are broken

down by our bodies into glucose, which is circulated in the

blood throughout our bodies. That is why most breakfast food

items such as bread, chappati, Idli, Dosa etc. are ones with high

starch content. Avoid fatty or fried food items in the morning as

they take longer to digest.

Most people also prefer a diet that is

rich in protein. This is specially true

for people who are physically

active.  For vegetarians, adding

grams and legumes to your meal

can provide the necessary proteins.

It is advisable to avoid eating the

yolk of the egg if you wish to watch your weight since it contains

greater amount of fat. A glass of fresh fruit juice, fruits or

vegetables can provide the body with the necessary vitamins

and minerals.

Milk contains most nutrients that the body needs and is very

beneficial. Adding a glass of milk to breakfast is advisable. You

can choose low-fat or skimmed milk over dairy milk since the

latter contains higher levels of fat.

Avoid sugar coated cereals, fatty/ fried food items and street

food. None of them have the necessary amount of nutrients that

your body needs and all of them will do more harm than good.

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