Why Break-the-fast?

-Kusum Hachhethu

Back in college, before going to bed, my roommate and I would actually discuss what we would eat for breakfast the following day. Call us crazy, but we just loved eating our breakfast?we would indulge in waffles, Danish, muffins, cookies and such delicious high-calorie, non-healthy food items and we felt good about it. But hey, back then, we were college students?college students generally don’t eat healthy. Now that we are no more in college, we eat better breakfast, at least healthier than what we used to.

Your doctor tells you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, ?most of us are aware about the fact. Yet, many tend to leave their houses in the morning without a proper breakfast. Similarly, there are those who claim to eat breakfast, but they just get away with a glass of juice or tea. There are others whose breakfast includes fried bacon or muffins or other non-nutritious items (he-who-must-not-be-named actually drinks coke for breakfast!) and there are those who do not eat breakfast at all.

Breakfast is one of the most analyzed and advised-about-topic in food and nutrition. Why must we eat breakfast? What should we eat for breakfast? Considering its popularity, Healthy Life organized a discussion program on the subject. A group of women gathered at the Kitchen Concepts section of SB Furniture showroom in Lagankhel to discuss the topic. The discussion was led by Nami Baskota, dietician and nutrition counselor at VLCC Health Care, and Elita Joshi, who recently finished her course in nutritional medicine.

101 reasons not to skip breakfast
“I would like to eat breakfast, but I just cannot eat in the morning,” complained Moon Thapa, co-founder of Hearty Nest Preschool. “My kids eat proper breakfast but I am always late for work, I wish I had time to sit down and eat proper breakfast,” shared Nirmala Shrestha, who owns a travel agency. “I am someone who would rather sleep than wake up for breakfast,” confessed Maradee de Guzman, professional dancer and model from the Philippines. “My kids are always rushing for school, they do not have the time to eat breakfast,” complained Tasneem Sahani, homemake and caterer. These are some of the many excuses used to get away with our morning meal. We also tend to underestimate the importance of eating our morning meal. We are busy, we like to enjoy the every bit of extra sleep or our body tricks us into thinking we do not need food at all. Despite all that, should we make better efforts to eat breakfast? Is it worth waking up 15 minutes earlier than usual? Is it worth stuffing food into the body that does not want to eat? Let us study the case.

The importance of breakfast has been associated with its prophylactic properties. According to Nami, “A habit of consuming proper breakfast helps to regulate body weight. Dieticians recommend breakfast as an important part of any weight-loss program. Those who skip breakfast tend to overeat during lunch and also snack in between meals. Nami also underscored that those who skip breakfast are vulnerable to lifestyle-related health conditions like acidity and gastritis. It is important to break the long night’s fast so that our body is not starved for too long and excess acid is not released by our stomach. Moreover, eating a nutritious morning meal will increase our concentration and make us more efficient during the day. “When we fuel our body, our brain can work better,” stated Elita.

What to eat/what not to?
By now, you must be convinced that you should not skip breakfast. While any breakfast is better than no breakfast at all, there are certain food items that must be avoided in the morning and also, in general. These include foods high in sugar and saturated fat like brownies, sugary cereals, chocolate jam, peanut butter, etc. Nami explained how sugar will make a person lethargic during the day, as it is quickly absorbed. “Similarly, cured meats like bacon and sausages that are high in sodium, fat and chemicals should be avoided,” added Elita. Food made with refined flour like white bread, croissants and donuts should be eliminated, given that fiber is extracted to make refined flour; they are empty-calorie food lacking essential nutrients.

B for Bacon, B for Biscuits, B for Butter and guess what, none of these?our beloved breakfast buddies?would supply all nutrients required. According to Nami, an ideal breakfast should include proper portions of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals. She also gave an example of a glass of milk and corn flakes and explained that it would not suffice, as it would not supply all the essential nutrients; however, adding vegetable juice and real fruits would make it a nutritious breakfast. “Breakfast must be king size, as the day passes by, one must reduce the portion size of their meal,” she added.

“I start my day with a cup of coffee,” said Mags Yap, freelance photographer. “I am a nurse and I need a constant dose of coffee,” said Eds Mpeal. Similarly, Nirmala Gurung and Sunita Gurung (a contributing writer for Healthy Life) declared that they cannot do without their cup of morning tea. Like most Nepalis, they seem quite obsessed with the quintessential Nepali chiya. On the other hand, nutritionists along with Nami and Elita, are against the idea of consuming caffeinated beverage, especially in the morning because of their caffeine and acid content; they are not the ideal drink to start the day. Instead, Elita recommends a glass of water or lemon water or real fruit juices or even green tea as a supplement. “Lemon water is best as it detoxifies and cleanses our body,” claims Elita.

Yes to a nutritious breakfast
On a positive note, there are those who actually make an effort to prepare a substantial healthy breakfast. “I like ethnic food, hence, I generally eat roti and vegetables for breakfast,” Prashun Singh, project coordinator at NEOC, told Healthy Life. Likewise, homemakers Tulika Agarwal and Raj Rani Lohia prepare juices out of seasonal fruits and other ethic breakfast items such as idli and paratha. Should not we be inspired by these women? Should we not motivate ourselves to follow a healthy lifestyle? Being healthy requires a change in lifestyle?incorporating the habit of eating a nutritious breakfast is certainly one of the most important changes. Say yes to a healthy breakfast! (although, an occasional trip to Mike’s Breakfast for their delicious home fries and bacon would not hurt, wink, wink).

Healthy breakfast ideas
Like most moms, Sunita prefers to prepare a variety of healthy yet delicious, breakfast for her kids: kids do not like to eat the same food every day. The participants, along with Nami and Elita, discussed an array of possible nutritious and creative breakfast menus for themselves and their kids, some of which are as follows:

  • Milkshake prepared with milk and yoghurt and seasonal fruits
  • Real juice from seasonal fruits .
  • Buckwheat pancake with honey (instead of sugar) and vegetable oil (instead of butter)Muesli soaked in real fruit juices
  • Wheat grits or cornflakes with milk
  • Boiled dried beans
  • Beaten rice with milk and honey
  • Roti with stir-fried vegetables
  • Whole-grain bread such as buckwheat bread and multi-grain bread
  • Scrambled tofu
  • Germinated sprouts
  • Dry fruits

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