Monday, January 10, 2011

The Breakfast Thing

Disclaimer:  no, I'm not a doctor.  So don't take my word as gospel and then sue me if it isn't to your liking.  You'd get nothing out of it, even if you did sue me for everything I'm worth, except for a cat.

The breakfast thing.

We've all heard this twenty thousand times over, especially if we're women.  Eat breakfast.  Every day.  Include lots of lean protein.  Otherwise, you will be sluggish all day and you will get fat.  Eating a healthy breakfast may contribute to losing weight.  Thank you, every magazine for women ever created.  Thank you, government-regulated health mandates.  Thanks.  Yeah.

This is a problem.  Honestly.  I have watched dozens of commercials for things like really sugary kids' cereal, saying that they're "part of a healthy breakfast" or "contain nutrients for a healthy breakfast" or heaven knows what.  Or that commercial for Nutella that's on TV right now--that Nutella helps a busy mom make her kids eat in the morning.

Nutella on white bread toast.  Yes.  That is the perfect thing to feed your kids, because it's not as though they'll have a sugar crash later or anything, or be so ridiculously hyper that you'll find yourself in a situation where teachers and doctors will be recommending ADD drugs.  Or sugary cereal!  Make them eat something!  Anything!  Just throw factory-manipulated, hard-to-absorb vitamins and minerals over the sugar on that cereal and it's better than nothing!  It is!  It is!  Just eat your breakfast!

Don't get me wrong; I adore Nutella, possibly more than any chocolate easily available in Georgia.  I eat it with an espresso spoon sometimes.  But you've got to admit that this "breakfast" rule that allows companies to push their sugary, processed product as mandatory for the health of children is pretty screwed up.  Just look at those waffles!  In what universe is that healthy, ever, never mind appropriate to set the nutritional tone for your entire day?   Ew.  Seriously.  Ew.

(Not to mention all the overprocessed white flour, sugar, and antibiotic-laden dairy it includes, anyway.)

Me?  I don't eat breakfast.

Sacrilege?  Yes, probably.  But, see, here's the catch.  I don't want to.  Moreover, I don't need to.

On vacation, or on weekends, I usually don't eat till between twelve and two in the afternoon.  On average, when I don't have to get up early, I wake up around eight or so.  So that's four to six hours of me not putting food in my body, and yet--and yet--I am not, nor have ever been, overweight.  And except for one class for which I showed up one minute late one time too many, I've had straight As in graduate school.

Which means that, contrary to the usual "wisdom", I don't feel deprived when skipping breakfast.  At all.  I drink a lot of green tea in the winter to warm up, and cool down with straight water in the summer. Maybe, if the grapefruit on the counter are calling to me (as they are now), I'll juice one or two of them into a wine glass.  Occasionally, about once a month or so, a cup of Greek coffee.  It's all I need.  If I had the money, I'd juice every morning.  But I wouldn't eat.

And, no, I'm not anorexic, for potential skeptics out there.  Not at all.  Check out the blog's recipe history:  what I post is mostly vegan and mostly low-fat, but there's a lot of it.  Those recipes, especially the ones that say "serves 4-6", are ones I make in bulk and just for myself.  Really.

You see, if I eat breakfast in the morning, it's like a trigger that turns on my appetite.  I want to eat more during the day.  If I have a bowl of blueberries and almond milk, I suddenly want lunch much earlier than usual.  Then an afternoon snack.  Then dinner.  Then something else before bed.  Suddenly, even if everything I eat is healthy, I've eaten way, way more than I feel comfortable with, and I go to bed feeling miserably overstuffed.

And, yes, I do realize that what I just outlined is what most American nutritionists would recommend as a healthy lifestyle.  But they'd also recommend treadmills or weight training, which, frankly, are too boring for me to deal with.  30 daily minutes of yoga I can do.  Jogging on a piece of plastic and metal and trying not to kill myself from boredom and the thought "IS IT OVER YET?!?!?", no.  And I danced for six years; you can't tell me that I had no energy because I didn't eat breakfast.  Especially one that has FRIES in it, for heaven's sake!

I think we eat too much.  I honestly do.  I think we are being bombarded from all sides with information telling us to eat too much.  Three meals a day?  Five small meals?  Really?

I just don't see the need to keep something in my stomach at all times.  You feel better, lighter (no matter what you weigh), when your give your poor body a break once in a while.  And I honestly believe that, for some people, the addition of food in the morning makes you feel inclined to eat more during the day.  Why would you want to take in more food if you haven't even eliminated most of what you ate the day before?  Why load yourself down like that?  You're not a Mack truck, for heaven's sake.

I know a lot of people who just don't eat breakfast, either because they don't want to, because it makes them feel queasy, or because they don't have time.  And it's not the death threat that very aggressive marketing wants you to think it is.  It's a wee bit liberating, actually.

I'm 5'5".  Never in my life have I weighed over 135 lbs and my usual waist size is 25".  You cannot tell me that not eating breakfast will make you gain weight.  It's absolutely untrue.  Eating too much of the wrong foods will make you gain weight; that's all.  As a matter of fact, I weigh more and I'm more unfocused when I do eat breakfast, because I'm too busy thinking about what I'll eat next.

Isn't your body something more than a food processing machine?  Let it be, occasionally, and give it a break.  When your energy isn't devoted to breaking down food, maybe you'll be able to use more of that energy.  Just maybe.

Think about it.  And look at the picture of that pretty parfait:  it looks lovely, small, and I'd have it around 1 PM.  Without the sugary granola, and with Greek yogurt and a small drizzle of honey or agave.  And every blackberry and raspberry would be a kiss of heaven.


Katie said...

Well really it all depends in one's individual metabolism. If your body was used to eating breakfast, or not eating breakfast, then that is how your body will process food. Since your body is accustomed to not eating in the morning, when you do it throws a wrench in its neat little schedule of how it digests food. There isn't a solid rule of when or what everyone needs to eat, just that people should find out what works for them and stick to it.

EtoileVineta said...

Of course. It just gets to me that practically every single health mandate is that you should eat breakfast, no matter what. It gets maddening after awhile.

Marlena Cipriano Torres said...

Yay for not listening to those hideous magazines! I'm glad that you blogged about this. Even within the health community I feel like following guidelines is incredibly over emphasized. For some it may be helpful at certain stages, but I think that the big picture here is that we have to start thinking for ourselves and deciding what is best for our own bodies.

Marlena Cipriano Torres said...

PS- You won some stevia! Email me at so I can get your address and have NuNaturals send you your prize!

Chenzia said...

Thank you for writing that. I absolutely feel best with a hot tea for "breakfast" until I get hungry around lunch. Eating breakfast makes me feel bad physically and emotionally and I'll graze throughout the day. I feel best when I eat when I really become hungry (lunch). Nice work!