Not the Most Important Meal
I don’t know if there is such a thing as a “most important” meal.
The idea of skipping breakfast makes our hearts skip a beat or two as those words are almost sacrilege. The decades of hearing the message that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is so entrenched in us, that to skip it would be like committing a crime.
You just don’t do that.
But a new article that came out in The Atlantic reveals that the origin of that message came from an aggressive marketing campaign (surprise surprise) by General Foods to sell more cereal.
The article explains the history behind the message and also talks about how breakfast, or more accurately meals, used to be like for most of human history.
For example, they mention that the Romans believed it was healthiest to eat only one meal a day, that the Native Americans fasted a lot and that in medieval Europe breakfast was a luxury for the rich.
AS SEEN ON TV
What we see on TV influences in part what we believe to be true. The ads and commercials get inside our heads, but only to a degree since we know that we are being sold something when watching them.
Movies and shows I believe have an even greater impact on our beliefs since we watch them wholeheartedly, allowing ourselves to be taken away by the fantasy. Our guards are down basically.
So when we see a “good” family having breakfast, we don’t consciously take notice of what they are eating (since we are more focused on the plot), but we do take in what they are eating on a deeper level, and accept that as a healthy and “good” way of eating.
This is true for all media from cartoons right to epic blockbusters.
When you’re shown 100s of images a year of what a good breakfast is and it’s either the diner breakfast of eggs, bacon, beans, sausage and white toast, or, the carb-heavy breakfast of pancakes and sugar cereals, a part of you accepts it. This makes it difficult for you to deviate from any of those 2 models of what breakfast as it would feel off or wrong to eat say, a salad or some fruit, or even nothing at all.
The 2 beliefs that we have around those typical breakfasts is that they are hearty and healthy and that we need both of those attributes in our breakfasts to function optimally in our day.
HEARTY – The idea of a hearty or large breakfast was that we needed lots of fuel for the tasks of the day ahead. Sounds logical, except that most people also eat lunch a few hours later and then a large dinner. If you ate a large breakfast you could skip lunch altogether and have a light dinner. Say a chicken salad or small bowl of meat and veggie soup.
But that’s not typically how people have their meals since most eating is emotional, not rational.
HEALTHY – That diner breakfast has one healthy item in it (eggs), some empty calories with excess salt (bacon, sausage), and some sugar and bad quality carbs (sugary beans, white toast and jam).
The carb-heavy breakfast is well, full of carbs and has a number of problems with it.
1- Too many carbs at once raises your insulin too much.
2- The type of carbs is of low quality (syrup, white flour, sugar cereals) which spikes insulin levels.
3- The nutrient content is low.
4- This kind of breakfast is usually chased with a large glass of orange juice, which again is too high in sugar.
WHAT DO WE DO THEN?
Lots of people eat breakfast and lots of people skip it, with both groups being perfectly fine.
MY DISGUST WITH BREAKFAST CEREALS
I have no issues with junk food since we all enjoy it every once in awhile.
What I do take issue with is that most breakfast cereal for kids qualifies as junk food. The worst kind too. Lots and lots of simple sugars with some highly, processed flour.
AND, they market the stuff heavily with cute cartoon characters, music and other smiling children, all there to influence kids to make the worst choice possible for their health.
Speaking of health, they also market the cereal as HEALTHY! Telling kids and parents over and over again how healthy their cereal is because they add a few vitamins and minerals to it.
Unacceptable and reprehensible.
By getting kids to eat those cereals every morning they are putting them on the road to diabetes, obesity, early cardiovascular disease and all the suffering that comes with it.
The better choices are the cereals without sugar that you can sweeten with fruit, or regular Cheerios which is much lower in sugar than most of what is on the shelves.
The chief task when it comes to breakfast and nutrition as a whole today is unlearning and relearning. Unlearning everything that was marketed to us by special interest groups and corrupt or mistaken government departments, and relearning what it means to eat healthy and how we lose weight.