Yes, I admit it… sometimes when people look at me with that… “You eat what for breakfast???” expression on their face, I just want to give them a good slap in the gob with a great big fish. But I feel I am justified in this regard because the very same people that will tell you that Breakfast is the “most important,” meal of the day will be exactly the same people who will look at you in utter confusion if you suggest that their first meal of the day could be anything that didn’t come out of a box, be eaten with milk poured over it or be pastry based and baked in an oven, (someone else’s oven, I might add) and come wrapped in plastic.
Sometimes in these Blogs I like to present my case in the form of a casual chat with a friend or colleague. Sometimes I take the position of a mentor or of a curious bystander peering in at what is undoubtedly the mad-mad world of fitness and food… and sometimes I just like to have a damn good rant… This is very much the latter of all those choices.
You see in the world of food, Breakfast has to be the most talked about and questioned meal of the day. Now, If you hang around gyms a lot like I do you may be forgiven for believing that the pre, intra and post workout meals are the most hotly debated meals of the day and that’s okay, your just wrong that’s all. The peri-meals are certainly talked about a lot but mostly just by us iron heads. The rest of the normal public, whom I happily coach and cajole for most of the hours of my days are far more concerned with breakfast and have for the most part never even heard the phrase peri-meals.
Okay, so if breakfast is talked about so much the next question has to be… WHY, WHY WHY???
Well the answer to that particular question seems to lie in the fact that most people seem to view Breakfast as some sort of special meal. For most people it has to be consumed in the morning and, for some reason that truly escapes me, it has to be comprised of a group of special foods that seem to apply to this and only this one meal???
Now personally I blame a certain Mr. John Harvey Kellog, for starting this whole “some foods are for breakfast and some are not,” brain washing that has occurred around this most sacred of meals. Now I am not saying that the man that put a chicken on the box is totally to blame but let’s face it, he did kinda get the whole, what you should eat for breakfast thing, off the ground. And another thing; what is the story with the chicken on the box anyway; what are we being told here. There is no chicken, meat or protein of any mention-able kind in these products. No, we are being told that chickens eat this food and therefore it should somehow be good for us… Why? I’m not a chicken. Nor do I wish to be in any way like a chicken. I do not want to look like a chicken, be as fierce as a chicken, be as nearly capable of flight as a chicken, nor do I wish to scratch around in the dirt for my food like a chicken…
So if we never wanted to be anything like a chicken how on earth where we ever sold on these products…? Well for a start we didn’t really know anything about food, or more to the point, we knew what we knew but we didn’t know that the so called experts didn’t always know more… Add to that that our lives were getting busier and we were living in a world where earning more to spend more to earn more to spend more was becoming the norm and all of a sudden the first meal of the day that, that awkward hour (if you were lucky) between getting up you and you getting out to earn more of that spend more power was very precious and was just waiting for a convenient quick fix meal.
In fairness to all the cereal box buddies out there, they never set out to cause massive insulin desensitization, bloating, low energy levels and diabetes, they believed (in the beginning anyway) they were creating healthy products that also filled a niche market. In fact the Kellogg’s belief that many of life’s sicknesses where cause caused by poor gut flora was way ahead of its time, not so much for his yoghurt enemas though.
And it wasn’t just the cereal boys who got everybody hooked on their morning sugar fix either. The bread and pastry makers where there also, with their easily prepared, easily consumed quick foods.
So why, when people are prepared to eat boxes of cereal with everything from whole grains to marshmallows in them, stacks of maple syrup covered pancakes, sweet Belgian waffles and chemical concoctions, iced in multi coloured e-numbered frosting and little toaster jumping packets of poison… do they turn their idealized breakfast noses up at some real food for breakie? Is it just we have become conditioned to wanting something sweet in the morning?
So what is breakfast? Well it is just a meal, a meal just like any other but this is something people seem to have forgotten. It has no magical properties other than that it is the first meal we eat after we wake up. That’s it, nothing more. It doesn’t even have an exact time of consumption. Some people like to eat it just after waking, for others it starts a few hours later. Even our English word “dinner” derives from the old French word “disner”, or the Latin “disjejeunare”, which simple means to break the fast. So we eat Breakfast before we eat our Breakfast. or to put it another way, we eat diner in the morning followed by dinner in the evening. Confusing isn’t it…!
So if we can’t even get the damn words right for the meal we are eating why do we try so hard to line up certain food with the meal in this first place?
Could it be that we are looking for a little comfort in the mornings. Could it be that we find our daily Monday to Friday lives so bloody depressing that we feel we deserve a little sweetie in the morning heading off to the drudgery of our jobs?
I am joking of course, because we are all adults here aren’t we. We don’t need sweeties in the morning like little children before heading off to big bad work do we..? I won’t labour this point any further but I will add this just to give you something to think about. Have you ever noticed how at the weekend when there is no big bad work to go to people tend to change their breakfast habits… Gone are the sweet treats and in comes the big fry-ups.
Look, I’m not going to push steak and nuts on you as a first meal of the day right now,. Nor am I going to shout and scream about how eating Paleo would be so much more healthy and that you would probably be better off smearing that gunk you got from the box this morning all over you face and letting a flock of birds peck it from your flesh… And i am certainly not going to suggest… dare I even say the words… that sometimes it might actually be good for you to skip breakfast altogether… or how some salmon and salsa might just set you up for the whole day. NO…I’ll save those arguments for another day.
For now I am just going to suggest that you start by thinking about breakfast as just another meal. Nothing special, no special foods required. Just being to imagine that if any food could be consumed at breakfast what would you like to eat???? Just let your imagination run wild and see where it takes you…..Brie studded with Cashew’s anyone?