Skipping breakfast in the morning is like setting off on a car journey with an empty tank of petrol.
But there are many reasons people decide to become breakfast skippers. Some skip breakfast, because they are not hungry in the mornings; others because they feel it is one meal less and will help them lose weight. And some skip breakfast because they are just in a rush to get out of the door.
Scientists now agree with traditional wisdom that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Breakfast breaks the night's fast and as your body has probably had no food for 12 hours, that is just what it needs.
Having not had food for a long period, your blood sugar levels are low. If you attempt to get through a busy morning without replenishing them, you may suffer symptoms such as headache, weakness, and reduced brain power.
We can spot the bright and breezy people who get up early and greet the day well with stretching and a good breakfast and those who are grumpy in the mornings and reach for their coffee and cigarettes. If you want a happy productive day it stands to reason you should start the day well.
If you miss breakfast, around mid-morning your body starts to need glucose fast. If your body is saying, give me food, it is a very difficult message to ignore; and there is a great temptation to pounce upon any food you see – an unhealthy bar of chocolate or a donut.
Breakfast is an ideal time to give your body good, healthy nutrients and boost your Vitamin C intake. Try to make it your first goal of the day to give your body a healthy start. It is a good idea to start the day with complex carbohydrates that slowly release energy throughout the morning. A bowl of porridge is an excellent breakfast cereal because the naturally occurring oat bran is not removed during processing. Shredded wheat is a good source of fibre that prevents constipation and lowers the risk of heart disease.
Cereals are so good for you and can keep hunger at bay for most of the morning. Recently, some breakfast cereals have been attacked by the UK Food Commission for being nutritionally no better than chocolate chip cookies. So, when you buy a breakfast cereal, check the sugar content! I recently noticed that my son's favourite breakfast cereal contained 30 per cent sugar. So, try to take time to read the labels.
Low fat yoghurt or skimmed milk with cereal can provide important calcium. Breakfast should include a mix of carbohydrates. For example wholemeal toast or cereal, and sugar in the form of fresh fruit juice. A little fat should be included as it helps keep hunger at bay and to regulate blood sugar levels. So a little butter, which contains Vitamin E, is the answer on your toast. It is probably better to have a banana or honey on toast rather than sugary jam which is quickly digested. A good breakfast means you are ready for a good day. Tea and coffee in moderate amounts are good antioxidants, as well as being stimulants. And the good news is that they are virtually calorie free, provided you don't load them with sugar!
Breakfast not only sets you up for the day ... and also your life: Missing morning meals increases risk of diabetes and obesity later in life.
• In 1981, researchers asked teenagers to record their breakfast habits
• The same participants were asked to undergo a health test 27 years later
• Young people who ate poor breakfasts were found to be 68% more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome as adults
• Metabolic syndrome is a collective term for diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity
Eating a poor breakfast in your teenage years can inflict long-lasting damage on your health almost three decades later, according to a new report. Swedish researchers found that people who ate poor breakfasts during adolescence displayed more signs of metabolic syndrome 27 years later, compared with those who ate more substantial breakfasts.
Larger breakfasts can also help people lose weight as you feel less hungry during the day. There is an old but true saying –
"Eat breakfast like a King, eat lunch like a Lord, and eat supper like a poor man."
For more nutritional tips e-mail me for a copy of my newsletter firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alva Carpenter/Nutritionist and fitness expert based in the Gulf. Readers can send questions to email@example.com.