June 15, 2022
Several friends (and a mom) have extolled the virtue of having a good breakfast. Breakfast is referred to as the “most important meal of the day,” and its proponents say with good reason. Breakfast breaks the nighttime fast, replenishes your glucose stores to increase energy levels and alertness, and provides essential nutrients for good health. On the other hand, I have always felt that no matter when I eat my first meal of the day, if it “breaks the fast” it is by definition “breakfast”. Over the last 2 ½ years I have tried to follow intermittent fasting. My definition for this fast was restricting food intake except between the hours of lunch (12:00 pm) and supper (8:00 pm). While I have been good at sticking to this routine, I have been known to treat myself to the occasional breakfast.
When I looked online, I found intermittent fasting is any of various meal timing schedules that cycle between voluntary fasting (or reduced calorie intake) and non-fasting over a given period. That includes alternate-day fasting, periodic fasting, and daily time-restricted feeding (like skipping breakfast hours). In the 21st century this fast has been studied as a practice to reduce the risk of diet-related diseases, such as metabolic syndrome. The American Heart Association states that intermittent fasting may produce weight loss, reduce insulin resistance, and lower the risk of cardiometabolic diseases, although its long-term sustainability is unknown. A 2019 review concluded that intermittent fasting may help with obesity, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and inflammation. A 2022 review indicated intermittent fasting is generally safe, but adverse effects have not been comprehensively studied, leading some to call the fast a dietary fad. The US National Institute on Aging states there is insufficient evidence to advise intermittent fasting and encourages speaking to one’s healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your eating pattern.
Melissa and I are planning a trip this fall and we decided to establish healthy patterns of diet and exercise. While I have observed a breakfast fast, this is not possible for Melissa given her daily medication. Today seemed like the perfect time to start a habit that included that “most important meal of the day.” Several friends (and my son) have touted the variety of smoothies they drink as a breakfast substitute. I have occasionally made smoothies and had a rough idea what went into this super drink. Melissa purchased some additives that were recommended by a friend, we had frozen fruit in the freezer, and I bought bananas and plain Greek yogurt from the store. Melissa warned me to not make it runny, so I use the frozen fruit and yogurt for thickening. Smoothies are usually thick, creamy beverages blended from puréed fruits, vegetables, juices, yogurt, nuts, seeds, and milk. Many include frozen produce or ice cubes to give the final product the cool, icy consistency of a milkshake. The flavor varies tremendously depending on the ingredients. The result I achieved was a glass of green gunk that tasted like yogurt mixed with whey. I think I will try a different recipe for breakfast tomorrow.
THOUGHTS: I tend to eat breakfast fare no matter what time of day when I am traveling. My logic is the simplicity of the ingredients (meat, eggs, toast) usually found in this meal are hard to screw up. One of my favorite road meals is chicken fried steak, but again the breakfast version (hashbrowns, chicken fry, eggs, and gravy). During the school year over 14 million children in the US receive breakfast, but this appears to be underutilized. There are 22 million kids who eat free or reduced-priced lunch at school, but only 12 million eat free or reduced-price breakfast. Mornings can be a busy time for families and getting the child to school for breakfast can be challenging. One solution is breakfast served as part of the school day, just like lunch. No Kid Hungry has outlined successful state-level school breakfast initiatives, along with policy changes for states and localities. We only need to implement them. Act for all. Change is coming and it starts with you.