Stop me if you've heard this one -- "Whatever you do with your diet, DO NOT skip breakfast."
Eating first thing after we wake is one of the dictums of dieting and we've all heard it so many times we don't question why we are eating, even if we may not be hungry.
It is true that some people can't do anything without fuel to start their day, and while there are occasions when a good bite to eat might be really advisable (morning exercisers, take note), it should it be a rule that everyone eats first thing?
Why do you eat when you are not hungry?
Our body has this really amazing way of telling us when it needs fuel: we may feel our blood sugar dip, our stomach begins to grumble and we have that slight ache for something. Our body is ready to gas up. Some people feel this hunger as soon as they wake. Others, however, don't feel hungry until a few hours after waking and they should really listen to the physiological hunger cues rather than what their head is telling them after years of reading diet literature. Everyone is so very different and what I advocate is listening to your body.
WHAT you eat is actually more important than WHEN you eat.
If you are trying to lose weight, intermittent fasting may be helpful and valuable, too. In this case, and if your body responds well, I suggest aiming for a 12-hour period in which you abstain from food. What does this look like? The exact timing depends on your individual body -- for some this might mean ceasing food at 6 p.m. and not hitting the breakfast table until after 6 a.m., but for those who eat dinner later, this might mean 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., or even 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. The key is to find YOUR ideal schedule, and this isn't something a health-care provider or diet book can tell you.
What I can tell you, however, is that WHAT you eat is actually more important than WHEN you eat. Avoid breakfast foods that are dessert masquerading as something more. Yes, put down that muffin and sweetened yogurt. Pick up those eggs and other high-quality proteins, as well as slow-burning carbs like whole oats. These foods will replenish your fuel stores and help you stay satiated to avoid binges later in the day.
But wait ... just a note: this advice applies to adults only. Children's bodies are constantly growing and all that work needs energy. Supply your kids with the right fuel, and at breakfast time, too, in order to support all of the important functions of their body.
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