There is so much of unlearning to be done in the field of nutrition and wellness. For the longest time we were made to believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and people used to live by quotes like “eat breakfast like a king”, “king-size breakfast” and made it a point to stuff themselves and their kids with a heavy breakfast before starting their day, hungry or not.
Well, I feel that is a terribly wrong advice. Not for everyone, but majority of them.
Imagine you have had a late-night party or a late dinner. You are most likely to wake up not feeling hungry the next morning. Why? Because your body is still in the “elimination phase”.
There are two phases in our body i.e. the building phase and the elimination phase. In the building phase your body demands nutrition and hence you feel hungry, in the elimination phase your body is busy detoxifying and eliminating, hence it doesn’t need you to be eating.
So, when you wake up the next morning, it still wants to digest and eliminate your last nights dinner before you feed it with another meal.
In such a case, we should refrain from eating. Only when true hunger strikes, we must eat because that indicates that the body has entered the 'building phase' and is now demanding nutrition. It’s thus essential to respect both: elimination and building phase. The duration of each of these phases may differ person to person too. Some may feel hungry immediately after waking up, some don’t until noon and that is okay as long as its coming naturally and is true physical hunger.
Gone are the days when breakfast was a meal that wasn’t supposed to be missed.
If You’re Not Hungry in the Morning, Don’t Force It
Yes, there are some people who may need to eat every 2-3 hours, specifically in case of medical conditions like diabetes which has reached a certain level or children who wake up genuinely hungry because of their activity levels, metabolism and a job that needs physical work or several reasons. If you are truly, physically hungry in the morning, then eat. But all the others, and especially kids who are force fed by their parents because of their belief in breakfast being the most important meal of the day, are simply doing it wrong.
Also, if you are trying to lose weight and think that eating every 2-3 hours will increase your metabolism and help you burn fat, you are again doing it the wrong way and it can actually be counterproductive. If you are not hungry, do not eat because your body is still eliminating and when you are hungry, that is the start of your building phase and the right time for you to eat.
Don’t Listen to Cereal Companies
It is a well-known fact that our nutritional curriculum is largely funded by large cereal companies and food lobbies.
How does a cereal company sell their products? By portraying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and how it can be detrimental to our health if we skip it. This induces fear in us and that’s how we began prioritising breakfast irrespective of whether our own body needed it or not.
Once you start aligning your eating habits with what your body tells you to do, you will start realising how Intermittent fasting (which unfortunately is becoming a weight loss fad diet) comes so naturally to us. Intermittent fasting is the most natural way of eating because it respects the two phases in our body. You eat your first meal of the day only when you are genuinely hungry.
So, the breakfast advice differs person to person and day to day. It is so important to get in tune with your bodies because once you learn this, it can become your way of life. It’s important to know that something as simple as this natural process will be the reason for your lifestyle, health, weight, acidity, immunity and everything else related to your overall wellbeing.
(Luke Coutinho is M.D. Alternative Medicine (Integrative & Lifestyle) & Holistic Nutritionist. Luke treats patients with disease and specializes in cancer with a holistic and integrative approach worldwide.)