A Simple Breakfast

Updated: Jul 16, 2021

I am about to share with you a simple breakfast recipe so you could start your whole-food, plant-based diet. But before doing so, let us discuss breakfast.


There are varying beliefs about the importance of breakfast. Is it really the most important meal of the day? Does skipping breakfast help you lose weight? Is drinking coffee first thing in the morning considered breakfast? These kinds of questions continue to challenge what we know about breakfast.


Breakfast is defined as the first meal of the day after waking up from sleep, usually eaten in the morning. It is a compound word that literally means breaking the fasting period of the previous night.


History of Breakfast

Nothing much has changed throughout the history of what is eaten for breakfast. However, so much has changed throughout history of our attitudes toward breakfast itself. To understand how breakfast came to what we know now, there are four factors that influenced its evolution.


Religion

Back in the Middle Ages, overzealous moralists associated breakfast to gluttony for eating too soon. Although breakfast was granted to children, the elderly, the sick, and the laborers, the rest of the population do not eat breakfast for fear of committing a sin.


Trade

By the 17th century, tea, coffee, and chocolate were introduced in trade across the globe and people started drinking them in the morning. In 1662, Cardinal Francis Maria Brancaccio justified this with "liquidum non frangit jejunum", meaning "liquid does not break the fast".


Technology

The Industrial Revolution changed the way we eat breakfast. Train transportation across the U.S. made salmon from Oregon and oranges from Florida could be available for breakfast in New York. Electricity changed the way we do things. And increasing wealth among people influenced the creation of morning parlors or breakfast nooks in houses.


Convenience

By the end of the 19th century, breakfast cereals were created. Because of convenience, housewives fell in love with electric kitchen appliances and anything that could be poured into a bowl.


After World War II, all four factors have come together into what we know now as breakfast: easily available, easy to prepare meals that could give you energy to start the day right.



Types of Breakfast

There are two types of breakfast: traditional and quick.


Traditional breakfast varies from country to country. For Americans, traditional breakfast is often eaten on weekends. It consists of any combination of eggs, preserved meats (ham, bacon, sausage, etc.), potatoes or hash browns, breads (pancakes, waffles, toast, or biscuits), and a beverage (coffee, milk, or fruit juice).


Quick breakfast is often eaten on weekdays, before school or work, when there is no time or no need for a large breakfast. This type of breakfast includes foods like oatmeal, breakfast cereal, buttered toast, baked goods (donuts, bagel, etc.), granola bars, or sandwiches. They are often eaten with a beverage.


You may wonder what a “continental breakfast” is. The term was coined in England during the mid-19th century. To the British, “the continent” refers to the countries in mainland Europe. It is much lighter than the full English or American breakfast. It consists of baked goods (bread or pastries), jam, fresh fruit, and coffee, which are typical breakfast items in countries like France and the Mediterranean.


But whatever type of breakfast you prefer, it could be said that published opinions of international agencies, government, and non-government organizations have shaped our thinking that breakfast is an important meal, if not the most important meal of the day.


Recommended Breakfast

“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.”
- Adelle Davis, nutritionist

Eating a hearty breakfast in the morning nourishes your body and brain. It can also help regulate hunger, which in turn reduces the urge to snack throughout the day. For children, eating breakfast has been positively associated with academic performance in school.


For a nutritious breakfast, try to choose whole, unprocessed foods from each of the food groups: carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, proteins, healthy fats, and fiber. The general advice from health experts is to eat a substantial well-balanced breakfast, one that delivers its energy slowly over the course of the morning. We should all be aiming to consume around 15–25% of our daily energy intake at breakfast which is about 300–500 calories for women and 375–625 calories for men.


Loaded Bowl

I would call this a Loaded Bowl because it is packed with the necessary food groups.





Ingredients:

1 to 1 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal (old fashioned/unflavored/plain)

Unsweetened almond/soy milk (optional)

Any 1 to 3 fruits of your choice

2 tablespoons walnuts

2 tablespoons sliced almonds

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 ripe banana


Procedure:

Cook the oatmeal per product instruction. Adding almond or soy milk is entirely up to you depending on how watery you want your oatmeal to be. Top with the rest of the ingredients. You may also like to slice the banana and add it to the bowl.


Oatmeal gives you complex carbohydrates and fiber. It keeps your blood sugar under control, and helps maintain an ideal balance of bacteria in your gut. The nuts and nut milk provide protein and healthy fats. The fruit tops it off with fiber, vitamins and minerals, plus it gives your breakfast a sweet taste. The darker the color of the fruits, the higher the anti-oxidants it contains. Antioxidants help remove free radicals in our body which disrupts our body’s cellular functions that results in a wide-array of health problems. Better avoid pre-packed oatmeal mixes that have added sugar and use old-fashioned oats instead.


If any of these ingredients are not available locally or too costly for your budget, do not worry. You may substitute it with another ingredient that may suit your taste and budget.



The Sad News

However, according to a study 18 to 25% of adults and as many as 36% of adolescents in North America skip breakfast. 74% of those who skip breakfast do not meet two thirds of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamins and minerals compared with 41% of those who eat breakfast. Perhaps the most worrying of all, an English survey found that many parents were unsure of what makes up a healthy breakfast for their children.


A comprehensive dietary counselling that supports daily breakfast consumption may be helpful in promoting healthy dietary habits throughout the day.

Debates on Breakfast

There are conflicting opinions regarding breakfast out there. A lot of the literature on the benefits of breakfast is focused more on health outcomes rather than dietary outcomes, although both are frequently linked.


One study reported that eating a healthy breakfast regularly is associated with improved glycemic control. Another study reported an inverse association between eating breakfast and risk factors of cardiovascular disease.


And yet, some studies have challenged the importance of skipping breakfast in weight management. Other studies have mixed opinions with regards to the length of the fasting. I've seen people modifying or making their own version of intermittent fasting. I have patients fasting way too long; perhaps thinking fasting longer can make them lose more weight quicker, which is not good.


I'm not too fond of fad diets regardless of what each of them claims to be. Some of these diets violate the normal physiological process. Too much fasting can lead to metabolic acidosis plus many more side effects, which is not suitable for the long term. Fasting can be challenging to keep up with. Most people can only do it for a certain period therefore not a sustainable way of eating. Those with chronic health issues must be supervised.


Conclusion

Current professional opinion is largely in favor of eating breakfast. Although there are different opinions on whether breakfast can influence losing one’s weight, this is still unclear. If skipping breakfast is your way of fasting to get rid of toxic wastes, then it might be better than eating unhealthy foods.


Underlying health conditions must be considered first when considering dietary modalities that do not conform to normal physiological processes. You may get some ideas regarding diet from my recent podcast.


If you have questions regarding diet, feel free to schedule a consultation. I will help and work with you and suggest changes that would help you. Who knows? One of our Starter Programs might suit your needs. Or if you want to hear from me talk about Lifestyle Medicine, feel free to listen to our podcast or contact me using the contact form below.


Sources:

Betts, James A., Enhad A. Chowdhury, Javier T. Gonzalez, Judith D. Richardson, Kostas Tsintzas, and Dylan Thompson. 2016. “Is Breakfast the Most Important Meal of the Day?” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 75 (4): 464–74.


Gibney, Michael, Susan Barr, France Bellisle, Adam Drewnowski, Sisse Fagt, Barbara Livingstone, Gabriel Masset, et al. 2018. “Breakfast in Human Nutrition: The International Breakfast Research Initiative.” Nutrients 10 (5): 559.


Harvard Health Publishing. 2011. “Breaking the Fast - Harvard Health.” Harvard Health. Harvard Health. June 2011.


Heather Arndt Anderson. 2013. Breakfast : A History. Lanham, Md. ; New York ; Toronto: Altamira Press, Corp.


Spence, Charles. 2017. “Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day?” International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science 8 (8): 1–6.





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