Do You Really Need to Eat Breakfast?
One-fourth of Americans skip breakfast. Are they damaging their health? A dietitian weighs in — and offers 5 easy breakfast ideas.
The mantra, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” can be frustrating if you’re food-averse in the morning. But are you harming your health when you skip breakfast?
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We asked registered dietitian Andrea Dunn, RD, if breakfast really is the key to better health.
“Breakfast may not be for everyone,” says Dunn. “The term ‘breakfast’ means breaking the fast. And at some point in our day, all of us do that, whether it’s at 7 a.m. or noon.”
Dunn says much of the advice relating to the importance of breakfast is based on observational studies. These studies aren’t randomized clinical trials that prove its importance. (That’s welcome news if your stomach churns at the thought of eating breakfast in the morning.) So if you’re someone who doesn’t wake up hungry, delaying the first meal may be better.
“Listen to your hunger cues to know how important breakfast is for you,” says Dunn. “What you eat over the whole day is more important than stressing over breakfast.”
This doesn’t mean that the “eat breakfast” advice is bunk — it just means the importance varies from person to person. Based on observational studies, these are the top selling points for eating breakfast within a few hours of waking:
For many of the 25% of Americans who skip breakfast, it’s not because they aren’t hungry, but because they lack time. If mornings are hectic, you may need to plan ahead so you can grab-and-go.
“Think about breakfast barriers the night before,” says Dunn. “Do you need to have the toaster and items ready on the countertop? Can crockpot oatmeal save your morning? A little planning the night before goes a long way to getting you out the door and to work on time.”
To keep your eyes from going half-mast by 10 a.m., Dunn recommends choosing whole foods and skipping processed foods that have extra sugar. “Eating a variety of foods will help you feel fuller and keep you satiated until lunch,” she says.
Dunn recommends these fuel-and-go favorites: