Are You a Breakfast Skipper?

"Eat a Good Breakfast—Start a Good Day."

M. DOROTHEA VAN GUNDY, Nutritionist, International Nutrition Research Foundation

The United States Department of Agricul­ture has a bulletin entitled "Eat a Good Breakfast—Start a Good Day." In the inside of the folder there is a paragraph that reads: "One thing is certain—going without breakfast is a bad start for the day. Some studies show that workers who skip breakfast get less done in the first working hour than those who tuck away a good meal before work. And as the morning goes on, the hungry ones grow less efficient. After lunch they do better; and then they slow up again. What happens to these workers hap­pens to homemakers, too," and to everyone else who skips breakfast.

The Department of Nutrition and Physiology in the Medical School of the University of Iowa has carried out an extensive research program to study breakfast and its effect on the health and efficiency of various age groups. There were studies made on basic breakfasts, no break­fast, and also various types of breakfasts, to de­termine their value. On the basis of altered breakfast habits on physiologic responses, it could be concluded that the omission signifi­cantly decreased the mental and physiological efficiency of the subjects during the late morn­ing hours. When breakfast was included in the day's meal plan, there was a significant increase in both these areas.

When breakfast is skipped, by ten-thirty or eleven o'clock in the morning the blood-sugar level often falls below the fasting point. This condition, known as hypoglycemia, or hyperin­sulinism, is characterized by nervousness, in­efficiency, irritability, and other symptoms. These are similar to what a diabetic would ex­perience after receiving an overdose of insulin.

Work output of an adult suffers as the hunger increases. Accidents due to inattention or care­lessness increase in the hour or so before noon.

Physical strength lessens, as was shown by grip and endurance tests on people of all ages.

A breakfast that is extremely high in concen­trated carbohydrates, such as syrup, jelly, jam, or sweet beverages, could well have the same effect as no breakfast, because it can easily give extra stimulation to the cells secreting insulin and thus lower the blood sugar below fasting normals.

Going without breakfast or eating the wrong kind of breakfast may then be back of the urge to eat between meals. Most of the between-meal snacks are sweet—candy bars, cookies, cake, or ice cream. Such sweet snacks raise the blood sugar, which takes away the hunger for the time being. However, usually in a short time the blood-sugar level falls to a lower point than be­fore the sweet snack was eaten, and we have the urge to eat again.

There are many people who munch all day on sweets. This means that their blood sugar is going from high to low and back again to high, continually up and down throughout the day. This is not as it should be. Meals should be eaten at regular times, with five- to six-hour intervals to allow the stomach to have rest pe­riods. Not a morsel of food should pass the lips between meals. (See Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 179, 228, 229.)

Why do people go without breakfast? Habit is a factor. The body becomes accustomed to doing without breakfast, just as it becomes ac­customed to eating big dinners in the evening or just before going to bed. Another reason is that when too much food is taken in the eve­ning, particularly late at night, the stomach is not ready for food at breakfast time. If you have been a breakfast skipper it will probably take you some time to re-educate your body to accept a good meal in the morning. However, this can be done by cutting down on the food at night and increasing the food intake in the morning.

One of the quickest ways to bring about this change is to omit the evening meal entirely and eat nothing before going to bed. I'll guarantee your stomach will waken you in time for a good breakfast the next morning. I know of some evangelists who eat practically nothing all day long, and then eat their heaviest meal after their evangelistic meeting in the evening. Of course they are not ready for breakfast in the morning, because the food they ate the night before has probably not left their stomach in time to give it any rest. It takes time to educate the body to accept a different schedule.

A much better nutritional program would be to have a good breakfast in the morning and dinner about two or three in the afternoon, and then nothing to eat before meeting in the eve­ning. Until they have re-educated their stomach to no food at bedtime, they may have a hot vegetable broth, warm tomato juice with food yeast added, or hot herb tea with honey and lemon.

What shall we serve for breakfast? Probably the most popular American breakfast is bacon and eggs, and many contend that this is the best breakfast nutritionally. To find out exactly what is the best pattern for breakfast, the Iowa study, mentioned earlier in this article, made balanced studies to show the nutritional effi­ciency of various types of breakfasts. The break­fasts compared were as follows:

  1. A basic cereal and milk breakfast versus basic bacon, eggs, and milk breakfast.
  2. A heavy bacon, eggs, and milk breakfast versus an increased cereal and milk breakfast.

The basic breakfast was defined as one that provides 25 per cent of the daily food require­ments. The heavy breakfast represented about 40 per cent of the total day's food intake. To appraise the efficiency of the various breakfasts upon physiological response, especially de­signed equipment was used to measure reaction time, neuro-muscular tremor, maximum work output, and other responses.

From these experiments the following sound and practical conclusions were drawn: The content of the breakfast was relatively unim­portant as long as it contained adequate pro­tein and calories. In all age groups studied, the response was the same whether the breakfast was built around cereal and milk or around bacon, eggs, and milk. One fourth to one third of the day's nutritional needs should be included in breakfast.

Ellen G. White has this advice to offer in Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 173: "It is the custom and order of society to take a slight breakfast. But this is not the best way to treat the stomach. At breakfast time the stomach is in a better condition to take care of more food than at the second or third meal of the day. The habit of eating a sparing breakfast and a large dinner is wrong. Make your breakfast corre­spond more nearly to the heartiest meal of the day." This instruction was given to Seventh-day Adventists in 1884. Isn't it interesting that nearly seventy-five years passed before nutri­tional research proved that a good breakfast is better than no breakfast, or a slim one?

It would be well worth your while to reread the whole chapter on "Regularity in Eating," pages 173-182 of Counsels on Diet and Foods.

The first meal of the day seems to be the one that is hardest to make interesting and yet nu­tritionally adequate. However, there are many foods that can be served at breakfast, and a well-balanced basic pattern should include fruit, cereal and/or toast, and protein.

Let us discuss briefly these various food clas­sifications. The fruit may include two fruits; both of them may be fresh during fruit season, and in the winter one may be fresh and one cooked or canned. Fruit may be mixed to pro­vide an interesting variety. Berries with sliced peaches, for instance, or bananas sliced with oranges give a change of flavor. Sprinkle apple­sauce with raisins or chopped dried fruit, such as dates. Add orange or lemon slices to prunes or other dried fruit. Baked apples are always popular for breakfast, and so is applesauce.

Cereal may be one of the many cooked vari­eties, and a heavier breakfast may include toast.

However, for a lighter or reducing breakfast, either cereal or toast may be used. Both of these should be made from whole grain, and may be made from wheat alone or a combination of different cereals. It is not always necessary to serve cooked cereal in a bowl with milk or cream; try using it sometimes with ground or chopped nuts, made into patties and browned in the oven.

If dry breakfast foods are used, they should be made from whole grain. We can safely say that most of the prepared breakfast foods on the market are not nearly as nutritious from a vita­min and mineral standpoint as cooked break­fast food. There are, of course, a few exceptions.

The habit of putting sugar on cereal (either cooked or dry) is not good. It is just a habit, and can be easily changed with a little deter­mination mutation and self-control. If you are especially fond of sugar on cereal, try using raisins or dates or other fruits. They will satisfy your sweet tooth while furnishing you some vitamins and minerals as an extra bonus.

Getting protein into the breakfast seems to be quite a problem with some, but it may be ac­complished in a great many ways. Dairy milk is popular on the breakfast menu. From a pro­tein standpoint soy milk or nut milk is of equal value with dairy milk. One may easily acquire the taste for soy milk by mixing it with cow's milk or nut milk. These are good on cereal or when used as a beverage. Eggs are equally popu­lar on the breakfast menu, but if Used they should be thoroughly cooked.

Did you ever try soup for breakfast? This provides an interesting change, gives one a hot beverage as well, and may furnish added pro­tein. Split pea, lentil, green lima, or soybean soup would provide excellent protein.

Extra protein may be included by adding soy grits or soy flour to the cereal—one to two tablespoonfuls for each serving. Food yeast is an easy way to get extra protein into the break­fast menu. This may be added to cereal, to the beverage, or used in the spread for toast. Food yeast is approximately 50 per cent protein, and also adds B complex vitamins.

You might take a tip from our New England friends, who serve Saturday night's baked beans for Sunday morning breakfast. Other types of legumes could be included in place of the baked beans.

Add extra protein in the form of soy flour to muffins, corn bread, or waffles. Any of the com­mercial vegetable-protein foods may be served for breakfast, such as Nuteena, or Proteena.

Speaking of vegetable protein, the Iowa stud­ies showed that the effect on the blood-sugar levels following the meals was the same whether the protein was of plant or animal origin. In other words, the blood sugar behaved the same following breakfasts containing the same amount of vegetable protein as animal protein, or the combination of the two.

Let the family gather at the breakfast table. Ellen G. White gives counsel that should be ap­plied at breakfast time as well as any other time. She says: "Let the table be made inviting and attractive, as it is supplied with the good things which God has so bountifully bestowed. Let mealtime be a cheerful, happy time. As we enjoy the gifts of God, let us respond by grate­ful praise to the Giver."—Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 231. This kind of atmosphere will give the family a good start for the day, and will build mental and emotional health.

In studying over the instruction given the Seventh-day Adventist denomination by inspira­tion, and comparing it with today's nutritional research, we can summarize as follows:

  1. Begin the day with a good breakfast. The evening meal, if eaten, should be light.
  2. It should be well planned to include a va­riety of cereals, adequate calories, and good protein.
  3. Meals should be at regular times each day.
  4. Nothing should be eaten between meals.

If you would like to have other ideas and sug­gestions in regard to balancing the breakfast menu, send a long, stamped, addressed envelope to the International Nutrition Research Foun­dation, Arlington, California.

Most breakfasts include a beverage of some kind. The topic to be discussed next is "Bever­ages—When and What Kind?"

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M. DOROTHEA VAN GUNDY, Nutritionist, International Nutrition Research Foundation

May 1959

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