Sometimes I just want to holler at my computer when I read ‘news’ that is based on half-truth and conventional wisdom.
Mother Jones online magazine this morning has a prominently placed story that purports to debunk three myths about breakfast. This would be a great time for us to talk about breakfast.
Their first myth is #1, You Have To Eat Breakfast. The way that I always heard this was in the form of the truism “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Until last year I was not a breakfast eating person. I never liked breakfast cereals, oatmeal, waffles, eggs–breakfast food. The other meals I loved, but I never got on the breakfast bandwagon until my 21 Day Sugar Detox on April 1, 2014. From that day until this one I have missed very few breakfasts, and every breakfast I missed I genuinely missed and wished I had eaten it. Here is how Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley put it in Mother Jones:
Much has been made about the importance of a good breakfast to a healthy lifestyle. It gives you energy to start your day, according to conventional wisdom, and scientific studies conducted a decade ago had proclaimed that eating breakfast was the key to maintaining a healthy weight.
I happen to believe this with all my heart. Especially the part where they say that eating breakfast is significant for me to be able to maintain a healthy weight. If they are going to debunk anything, surely it’s not that.
Based on this new research, the bottom line, Newby says, is this: If you’re not hungry in the morning, there’s no harm in skipping breakfast when it comes to weight management. “It’s the what that is more important than the when, when it comes to breakfast,” she says, which also means that grabbing a sugary muffin, doughnut, or other pastry, just to eat something in the morning, is a worse idea than eating nothing at all.
Whew! I can agree with part of this paragraph, and part of it I take issue with. I agree that breakfast is not so terribly important that to satisfy the need to eat breakfast you would feel like you could eat anything that is within reach. Cake and ice cream is not a good breakfast. A similarly bad idea, and for exactly the same reason would be milk and Cocoa Puffs. It’s nutritionally no different than cake and ice cream for breakfast. Where I take issue is the idea that if you are not hungry you can skip breakfast. As a machine, your body typically has been living off of stored energy since dinner the day before. Let’s say you finished that meal at seven. Now it is seven in the morning, a full twelve hours later. Even if you are not suffering from hunger pangs you are in the process of starvation by this point. At work and even on the drive in to work you will be presented with food triggers, be it the Starbucks on every corner, the pastry tray by the coffee machine, the candy machine or the snack cart, it will be a struggle against your self-interest to avoid having something like that before you get to your lunch meal opportunity at noon, a full seventeen hours since you last ate. Personally I know that I couldn’t make it ninety percent of the time. The convenience foods I would eat would all be carbohydrate bombs that would begin the blood sugar and insulin crash cycle for the day. Eating two eggs and breakfast meat keeps any of that from occurring. IMHO that is why breakfast is important to maintaining my weight.
How about Myth #2, It’s Healthier To Just Drink Juice? I do know that most Americans think that drinking orange juice is healthier than drinking Coca Cola, but I don’t know why they think that, really. A serving of Orange Juice™ has 26 grams of carbohydrate (sugar-specifically Fructose) and Coca Cola™ has 29 grams of carbohydrate (High Fructose Corn Sugar). That would be six teaspoons of sugar in juice and seven teaspoons of sugar in Coke. The only thing that would make one determine that there is any difference for your body first thing in the morning would be the vitamin C in the juice, but if Coke put vitamin C in Classic Coke would you think they were the same then and feel free to pick either instead of breakfast? Would you make your children finish their Coke before they ran off to the school bus to burn off all that sugary energy before they begin the school day? I don’t think that juice OR Coke are healthy drinks. I know that fructose can only be metabolized by the liver. I know that the liver turns fructose immediately into fat, and that if there is enough fat already in the body, the liver will store that fat directly in the liver. I know that a fat liver is a disease called “nonalcoholic steatohepatitis” (NASH) and it’s a precursor to cirrhosis. It’s become the primary reason for liver replacement surgery in the US, and even children are getting it–probably because their parents make them finish their juice in the morning. I really want to help Mother Jones debunk this particular myth. Then they had to go and throw this line in there:
And, as Newby points out, we already know what makes a healthy meal at any time of day: Put vegetables at the center of the plate, accompanied by whole grains, beans, nuts, and healthy fats.
Well, I don’t agree with that. We don’t all think that vegetables, whole grains, and beans are health foods. Those foods are all bringing carbs to your breakfast. I happen to think that the only food you eat that will make you fat is carbs. Grains and fruits bring a great deal of carbs to the table and then insulin and fat follow. My advice is just eat meats and fats at breakfast. By far the easiest and fastest breakfast is ham and eggs, because the ham is already cooked and tasty, and eggs take but a couple of minutes to cook, even if you like your yolks hard like I do.
The final Myth, #3 is You Need Coffee When You First Wake Up. This one is not about nutrition or weight, so there is not much to get upset about here, but to say that if all you have for breakfast is coffee on the drive in, or if your “coffee” is a Starbucks Caramel Flan Latte (37 grams of Carbs — TEN TEASPOONS OF SUGAR), then you are better off eating nothing at all and fighting the urge to grab something from the pastry tray. Having a big mug of pure candy and calling it breakfast is doing your system great harm.
For the record, we don’t eat breakfast until 11am (if that’s a breakfast at all), and we are still alive. Our next meal would be at 7pm, and we can hang on to 7pm just fine!
There are some fruit juices marketed as 100% natural. Some of them are actually contained in a vacuum for months. With that in mind, even if they don’t contain added sugar, we would still prefer fruits instead.
It’s customary nowadays to have a cup of coffee in the morning, and this is rather troubling. Even with the argument of beneficial antioxidants in caffeinated coffee, one cup of coffee per day can raise cortisol level significantly, thereby contributing to chronic stress and possibly some stomach issues. 😉 And if you prefer decaffeinated, well, the antioxidants are gone as well!