“Eat your breakfast, it’s the most important meal of the day!” I can still hear my parents’ voices, telling me this. I’ve never been a fan of breakfast; my stomach wakes up a few hours after the rest of me and I don’t like most ‘traditional’ breakfast foods. I’m not a fan of pap, cereal, porridge, or any slushy, bowl and spoon breakfasts. Bread is too dry! What I really want as soon as I wake up is several cups of coffee. My favourite breakfast food is piping hot amala, served with abula and smoked grasscutter or ‘assorted’ in a fiery stew with visible palm oil. . . but that’s too much work for most mornings.
Everybody is different but for the vast majority of us, eating a nutritious breakfast is a step towards being more healthy.
Several years ago, a café opened just around the corner from my office. I fell in to the habit of having a cooked breakfast every morning on my way to work. Eggs, processed meats, mushrooms, tomatoes, bread and/or fried potatoes, that sort of thing. Every single morning, Monday to Friday. Prior to this, I just had coffee in the mornings and didn’t eat until lunch-time, sometimes dinner-time if work was demanding.
When the café put up bunting and gave out free coffee to celebrate their first anniversary, I realised that I had been eating what was in my view, (lots of carbs, salt and saturated fats) a far from ideal breakfast for a whole year. At a time when men’s fashions were more ‘comfort’ and less ‘fitted’, it was not as easy to notice gaining or losing weight by how one’s clothes fit. I had to weigh myself to check how much damage had been done by a year of these breakfasts, after several years of no breakfasts.
It was with no little trepidation and self-recrimination that I dusted off my bathroom scales and checked my weight. The scales appeared defective, the weight reflected couldn’t possibly be right. I put it down to lack of use and ordered a nice new fancy body-composition monitoring scale, that in addition to weight, told you how much of you was fat, bone and muscle.
Thanks to Amazon Prime, I had the new device the following day. Once again, somewhat anxiously, I checked my weight. Same result; I had lost over 2kg! My mind boggled. Nothing else had changed, I had eaten one more meal each day than previously and it was not really a meal chosen for its ‘healthiness’ but I had lost weight.
The more I have studied human nutrition, the less surprising this has been. The reasons for it are quite simple. My body used to store fat to deal with the long fast between yesterday’s dinner and today’s lunch. Once my body got used to the idea of the huge energy input of breakfast, it stopped creating fat.
I address this concept comprehensively here: https://wetinyoudeychop.com/2016/10/20/nigerian-diet-fat/
There are other possible reasons as well. The adage, “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper” coined by Adelle Davis, the renowned pioneer nutritionist has been analysed and studied by nutritionists and dietitians for decades and while almost all find a correlation between skipping breakfast and being overweight, there is no real consensus on why. Also being studied are; the metabolic kickstart breakfast provides, the possibility that less active people just happen to be more likely to skip breakfast and/or skipping breakfast makes one less energetic and hence less prone to burn calories taken in at lunch and dinner.
I still eat breakfast every day, but not the same one. Sometimes I eat oatmeal or muesli and when I eat a ‘fry-up’, I’ve improved the quality. I avoid ‘unknown fats’, I eat organic eggs, organic processed meats with lower salt and low-GI bread. As often as I can, I still eat amala and abula. . .
For me, breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day, it must start with coffee if I’m to be fit for human interaction (also, coffee is the only thing that kills the taste of toothpaste for me.) and it is the meal in which I feel I can best get away with eating less healthily. If I’m going to eat cake, donuts or pastry, I’d much rather have them for breakfast (with coffee, mmmmmm).
Wetin you dey chop?
Major Abs’ Takeaway.
Experiment with breakfast!
Everybody’s different, so experiment to find what works for you; make a tangible change like eating breakfast or eating a specific breakfast for a month. Make a diary entry at the beginning and end of your month, note your weight, waist measurement and body-fat. Also make a note of how you feel within yourself. (go quickly up a couple of flights of stairs if you’re not sure how you feel).
*If you like the results, stick with the change and try a different experiment.*
*If you don’t like the results, ditch the change and try a different experiment*
Try experiments like changing your breakfast behaviour on certain days, changing a regular sweet drink to water or herbal tea, cutting down the sugar in tea and coffee (your tastebuds will adjust if you stick to it). You can even try a fad like a spoon of coconut oil in your morning drink.