By Marsha N. Woolery
Breakfast is any food item consumed to break the fast after eight to 12 hours of not eating. Therefore, breakfast can really be at any time of the day. However, traditionally, breakfast is usually referred to as the first meal of the day between the hours of six and nine in the morning.
Research has shown that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. There is a school of thought that breakfast should be eaten like a king, meaning, breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day. In reality, though, is that possible every day when we are so rushed in the mornings? Even if breakfast is not the biggest meal of the day, it should be nutrient dense or rich in energy, protein, vitamins, minerals, to include complex carbohydrates. For example, a bowl of porridge with milk (cow's, soy or almond) and a fruit.
Nutrient level falls
When a person skips breakfast or refuses to break one's fast, the nutrient level in the blood falls, and this is called fasting. During a fast, nutrients do not move from the intestines to the liver and insulin in the blood decreases and glucagon increases, which causes the liver to make sugar for energy.
Breakfast should provide a mix of nutrients from at least three of the six Caribbean food groups, such as bread (staples), scrambled egg (food from animals and fats and oil), and a fresh fruit. Breakfast should provide sufficient amounts of carbohydrates for energy, protein for tissue repair and antibodies, fat for energy, vitamins to assist the body to use carbohydrates, protein and fat to prevent certain diseases such as cancer and minerals for strong bones and teeth, strong blood and skin.
Skipping breakfast may cause loss of energy, listlessness, fatigue and overeating at the next meal to make up for not consuming breakfast. So the question is: Is it worth skipping breakfast? Well, it might lead to nutrient deficiency, loss of productive hours at work or school and the risk of being overweight or obese?
The recommendations for breakfast are:
Prepare breakfast from overnight and reheat to appropriate temperature next morning; choose food items from at least three of the six Caribbean food groups;
Breakfast can be a cooked meal, a shake, or dry food (sandwich) and does not have to be served with a hot drink or tea.
Fruit or juice does not provide sufficient nutrients for the start of the day and should be a breakfast accompaniment. Remember to always break your fast after a long night's rest for health, wealth, productivity and vitality.
Marsha N. Woolery is a registered dietitian/nutritionist in private practice and adjunct lecturer at Northern Caribbean University; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.