Do you suffer from breakfast blues

Updated: Apr 29 2007, 05:30am hrs
Mom was right when she said breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Even if its remarkably easy to skip it for a heartier lunch or in order to cut those extra kilos, doctors and recent studies indicate that eating that first meal of the day, even on the move (in cars) or at work (if duty calls earlier than expected) is a far healthier option. More so because skipping breakfast almost always leads to overeating during the day. The six-hour sleep makes the body crave for food, it needs to recover from the period of starvation. So missing breakfast is an absolute no-no. The fuel that keeps our body motors running is glucose. Your brain and nervous system need glucose to work: all physical activity needs this fuel. If you dont supply it, the system tries to find stored carbohydrates or it tries to turn fat into glucose. Eating breakfast is the better alternative, says Dr Shikha Sharma, a Delhi-based dietician.

Studies reveal that nearly one-fifth of adults dont eat at all in the morning. Those who do manage to catch a bite could easily do with some improvement in their choices. A recent study by Foodwatch, a Minnesota-based consulting firm that monitors food trends found that the number of people eating mainly refined carbohydrates (cakes, pastries) has gone up.

High-fibre, low-fat breakfasts promote healthy weight control more than the so-called refined breakfasts most people are eating. Studies show remarkable improvements in learning and memory, weight control and cholesterol profile of breakfast eaters, adds Dr Sharma.

Usually dieting is the perfect excuse for skipping breakfast. A lot of people feel that by ignoring the first meal of the day, they are reducing their calorie intake and ensuring weight loss. However, they dont know, says fitness and health expert Deanne Pandey, that it creates a vicious cycle that results in a larger meal toward the end of the day and a loss of appetite the next morning. Our body loves to be fuelled often to perform well. Agrees Sharma who says that people who cut calories by missing breakfast are often found snacking later in the day and fighting the low energy battle during late afternoon and evening. Breakfast was designed to revv up your body for the rest of the day by boosting your energy, keeping your eating patterns even and stimulating your bodys metabolism. Those who skip breakfast are constantly in the focus on weight loss mode.

A study published in 2006 in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that breakfast consumption may be associated with more healthy body weights in children and adolescents; that skipping breakfast is common in overweight or obese children, and may be related to dieting or eating disorders; that those who dont eat breakfast are less likely to engage in physical activity, resulting in positive energy balance and weight gain; and that breakfast consumption may positively affect cognitive function.

The body needs a judicious blend of protein (protein keeps the body going over the next three to four hours until lunch) and carbohydrates (carbohydrates boost energy) at breakfast. Iron-enriched cereals with high-fibre bran and little sugar, says Pandey, is ideal. Busy schedules and a hectic lifestyle have claimed the first meal of the day. To keep your BMR in control, opt for low-cal (sugarfree cereals, sprouts, whole wheat bread) or healthy breakfast (soymilk, fruits, bran etc). In hotels, business travellers prefer a big breakfast over big lunch, says Manisha Bhasin, executive chef, ITC WelcomHotel Marriott.

Having breakfasts together as a family has also become a weekend affair. Nikhil Nanda, executive director and group COO, Escorts, admits that on weekdays, breakfast is rushed and often had on the move, while travelling to office. On weekends, I ensure that I breakfast with my family and it is a leisurely affair often ending up as brunch.

The recent Seventh Health Writers Workshop organised by Health Essayists and Authors League in the Capital recently, found western breakfast to be healthier than hot Indian options which contain plenty of transfatty acids bhaturas (9.5%), paranthas (7.8%) and puris (7.6%).

No wonder then that like other Asia-Pacific markets, in India too, among the processed food segments, the breakfast cereals category has been projecting a 40% growth rate.