In spite of health experts going blue in the face trying to get people to understand the importance of having
breakfast, there are thousands who skip the first (and most crucial) meal of the day citing a motley of reasons. Dietician Dr Sunita Dube says that having a hearty breakfast helps control excess hunger throughout the day. "Since we technically fast overnight while sleeping, forgoing breakfast adds to this fasting period and may disrupt blood sugar balance and insulin output. Skipping breakfast also triggers bad eating habits during the day, as cravings ensue and quick-fix fast foods are often eaten. Having breakfast boosts metabolism and increases your energy levels throughout the day. When you miss it, your energy is reduced and physical activity levels decline," reckons Dr Dube.
An ideal, healthy breakfast A healthy breakfast provides 25 per cent of the total energy and nutrients required by the body. "Ideally, your first meal of the day should comprise a perfect combination of carbohydrates, protein and fibre. Make sure you include fruits, whole grains, berries and and good fats. Opt for light and soft idlis with sambhar, plain dosas with green chutney, milk with cornflakes or wheatflakes, vegetable poha or upma with a milkshake and sprouts. Also, include high fibre fruits like apples, papayas, muskmelons, oranges or watermelons," says dietician and sports nutritionist, Deepshikha Agarwal.
What to avoid in the morning l Processed, deep fried or oily food, preserved meat, left over or junk food, cakes, pastries, and only juices are a no-no. l Avoid refined foods like white rice and white bread. Instead opt for whole wheat bread and cereals. Stay away from deep fried pakodas, puris, samosas, doughnuts, cookies, potato chips, candy bars and sodas. l Food items like vada pav, bhajias, wafers, pizzas and French fries are loaded with fat, salt and calories and have very little fibre — keep them at an arm's length.
Disadvantages of skipping breakfast Experts say that skipping breakfast may put you on the fast track to weight gain, heart disease, osteoporosis, irritability or mood swings, menstrual irregularity, low energy levels, low memory and hormonal stress. "A study shows that people who skipped breakfast developed higher bad LDL cholesterol levels, and were less sensitive to insulin than people who ate breakfast every day," says Dr Dube. And for those who skip breakfast in a bid to lose weight, you ought to read this. "People who miss breakfast tend to feel fatigued early on in the day and have low concentration levels, affecting their efficiency. Skipping breakfast also decreases metabolic rate making weight loss difficult. Research proves that people who skip breakfast tend to be heavier than people who eat a healthy breakfast. So, if you're looking forward to losing weight, have a nutritious breakfast to get a healthy start to the day," suggests Dr Agarwal.
Importance of a healthy breakfast in children and teens The amount of food that a child needs varies according to height, built, gender, and activity levels. "Most kids will usually eat the amount of food that's right for them, however, it is up to the parents to ensure that their children have the right foods available to choose from. Eating a meal should be both a healthy and an enjoyable occasion — a fact that many parents overlook when planning a meal for growing children. Good eating habits start from home so be a good role model.