If you’re one of the three million Aussies who admit they skip breakfast, you need to read this. Skipping breakfast effects your concentration, mood, weight and much more…
We’ve been told forever that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’. Breakfast allows us to be energised throughout the day and facilitates maximum productivity in both adults and children. So what happens to breakfast skippers? According to Sharon Natoli, Accredited Practising Dietitian from Food & Nutrition Australia and member of the Egg Nutrition Council, there are many negative effects.
“Not only do they suffer from poor concentration, constant tiredness and struggle to get through their tasks, the breakfast skipper is also at risk of physical symptoms such as mood swings, unhealthy cravings and weight gain, with statistics revealing that those who don’t eat breakfast having higher BMIs compared to those that do,” explains Sharon.
Research from the ABS’s, Australian Health Survey reveals that nearly two thirds of Australian adults are struggling with their weight – and eating breakfast every day is a key solution to keep weight under control. Studies also reveal that children with obese parents are less likely to eat breakfast, so it’s important for parents to encourage healthy eating behaviours for the whole family to follow.
But with almost three million Australians admitting they skip breakfast, are we really setting a good example for our kids? I know I’ve been guilty of skipping breakfast and been pulled up on it by my seven-year-old son. So whether it’s lack of time, being disorganised, or simply not feeling hungry, these alarming insights from Sharon on the effects of skipping breakfast could be the kick-start needed to get the healthiest start to the day …
Why is breakfast the most important meal of the day?
“After an overnight fast, your blood glucose level will be low, as it will have been 10-12 hours since you have eaten,” explains Sharon. “Eating breakfast kick starts the metabolism, refuels glycogen stores and provides essential energy to keep you going throughout the morning. Breakfast is also linked to many health benefits including better weight control, ease of ability to meet nutrient needs over the course of the day and improved cognitive performance.”
How does skipping breakfast effect concentration & tiredness?
“Skipping breakfast means blood glucose levels will be lower when starting the day. The brain only uses glucose as a fuel source, so if blood glucose levels are low, the brain doesn’t work as effectively, making it harder to concentrate – having a ‘fuzzy brain’. Glucose is also the preferred energy source for muscles so when levels in the blood are low due to lack of breakfast, this can also contribute to tiredness. Eating breakfast provides the body with an essential fuel source to help counteract both of these issues.”
What about mood swings?
“Skipping breakfast can affect your mood as low blood glucose levels contribute to feelings of tiredness and irritability, while eating breakfast increases feelings of alertness. This in turn contributes to feeling more positive overall, therefore improving mood.”
How does eating breakfast help weight control?
“Eating the right type of breakfast, particularly one that is higher in protein, helps increase feelings of satiety over the morning, therefore helping to prevent snacking on unhealthy foods mid-morning. A protein rich breakfast, such as eggs on wholegrain toast, results in a steady rise in the blood glucose level after eating. This means insulin levels will be kept lower, therefore helping the body to burn energy rather than store it.”
What if you’re not hungry?
“It doesn’t matter if you’re up for an hour or two before you eat breakfast,” explains Sharon. “The main thing is to try and eat something early in the day to help keep you going through the rest of the morning.
“A few tips to develop a healthy routine include getting ready at home and commuting to work, then having your breakfast before starting work. Or, try eating something small, like a boiled egg, to get your metabolism working and then eat the rest of your breakfast an hour later. You can also try having a drink rather than sitting down to a meal. For example, a quick smoothie whipped up in a blender.
“Check that you’re not waking up feeling full due to eating late at night. Try to have dinner at least three hours before going to bed so you wake up feeling hungry, and are therefore more likely to eat and enjoy a good breakfast.”
What are great breakfast foods?
“Anything with protein or fibre will be sustainable until lunch time. Eggs in particular are a highly nutritious whole food, a natural source of 11 different vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, iodine and iron as well as providing omega-3 fatty acids which are perfect for breakfast. Other good choices include fruit and yoghurt with natural muesli, porridge with milk and banana or baked beans on wholegrain toast.”