Importance of breakfast

Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”. This ancient proverb has more than a grain of truth in it, but sadly, most people leading a busy life today tend to skip breakfast altogether. Nutritionists say this is really bad news as ideally one should be getting 25 per cent of the day&’s calories from breakfast   enough to keep you going right through till lunch time, both physically and mentally. Starting the day without refueling your body&’s engine, the nutritionists say, means poor concentration, irritability, low blood sugar and a dreadful craving for the biscuit tin or chocolate bar in the middle of the morning. As per a study conducted by the Research Centre, College of Home Science, Nirmala Niketan, Mumbai and supported by Kellogg India, titled The India Breakfast Habit  a whopping 72 per cent Indians have a nutritionally inadequate breakfast.

Breakfast is exactly what it says  breaking your fast  and for most people the time they spend in bed is the longest period they go without food. When one gets up in the morning it may easily be 8-12 hours since one last ate and the blood sugar level is at rock bottom. In order for the brain to function properly it needs a constant supply of sugar. Which is why starting the day with breakfast is so important.

Skipping breakfast means poorer performance by schoolchildren, a greater risk of accidents when driving and a lack of efficiency and concentration at work. In fact, nutritionists advice that breakfast should be eaten within two hours of waking up and a healthy breakfast should provide calories in the range of 20-35 per cent of one’s guideline daily allowance (GDA).

Researchers claim people who miss breakfast not only eat more for lunch but also crave fatty and sugary foods, putting them at risk of gaining rather than losing weight. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, something which should not be ignored,” said nutritionist Samreedhi Goel. “Breakfast is growth for your brain. If you eat a well-balanced breakfast it improves your metabolic functions, controls weight, provides more energy, lowers cholesterol, boosts the immune system, maintaining blood sugar levels and also keeps you active throughout the day.”

Breakfast, she added, helps with weight loss and increases one’s concentration and awareness right through the morning. To get the most out of one’s morning meal, Goel advised choosing a variety of nutritious foods that include a protein (whole grains, low-fat dairy), carbohydrates and fibre from fruits and vegetables.

A study published in the June 2011 edition of Physiology and Behavior concluded that people who eat breakfast have better cognitive function than those who don’t. Breakfast eaters are also generally more productive and alert, with better problem-solving skill. Eating right in the morning can give people the energy and mental clarity they need to be fully engaged, focused and productive throughout their work day. 

Speaking at campaign to promote the habit of breakfast, Bade Sapno Ki Sahi Shuruat (Feeding Dreams) organised by Kellogg India, badminton champion Saina Nehwal said, “Believe it or not, the right start to your day can do wonders. I believe in the power of breakfast, which fuels my day, wakes me up and gives me that long-lasting energy. I eat a balanced breakfast every day and I think it is important to make breakfast compulsory in schools, like the midday meal sponsored by the government.”

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