The Daily Dilemma of Skipping Breakfast
by Sara Chow
Do you have a daily dilemma of skipping breakfast? If yes, then you might want to read this.
A recent statement from the American Heart Association, which summarizes research on meal timing and frequency, indicates that our eating patterns are changing and it may be affecting our health. Specifically, there is research demonstrating that our total energy intake (the calories we consume each day) is coming less from standard meals and increasingly more from snacks. Researchers suggest that this could link with an increasing societal trend of skipping breakfast.
Almost 40% of Canadians skip breakfast – the most important meal of the day. But, what defines breakfast and why is it so important? While there isn’t one definitive definition of breakfast, it is often defined as the first meal of the day, eaten before daily activities within 2 hours of waking, typically no later than 10 am, and consists of a calorie level of 20-35% of total daily energy needs.
Studies show that there is an association between skipping breakfast and low nutritional adequacy of adult diets. “When people skip breakfast, it can impact their metabolism for the rest of the day affecting their ability to control their appetite,” explains Holly Freill, Registered Dietitian at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.
Additionally, studies show that breakfast skippers are more likely to not meet their recommended dietary allowances of vitamins and minerals, and have greater energy consumption from added sugars. “When we’re hungry, there is a lot of opportunity to grab convenience foods. The problem is that these foods tend to have a lot of refined carbohydrates in them, such as white flour and added sugar, and have a lower nutrient density which leaves you unsatisfied and craving more food to meet your body’s needs,” says Freill.
At the more extreme end of consequences, studies have also demonstrated an association between skipping breakfast and increased risk of obesity, weight gain, elevated cholesterol, blood pressure and risk of diabetes. “Metabolically, those who eat breakfast appear healthier than those who do not eat breakfast. In my experience as a dietitian, people who eat breakfast are generally the ones who pay more attention to their food intake throughout the day and tend to make healthier choices,” adds Freill.
There is a sunnyside to this dilemma though – make an effort to eat breakfast every day!
“A healthy breakfast consists of at least 2 different food groups, and uses minimally processed and more whole foods. Breakfast is an excellent time to incorporate these types of foods into your diet, such as fruit and yogurt,” says Freill.
You can make breakfast happen! Follow this link for some healthy and time-saving ideas to incorporate breakfast into your day every day: bit.ly/dietitiansofcanadabreakfast