Sorry Science, My Toddler Still Needs Me to Eat Breakfast

breakfast-meal-624x624For years, I’ve spit out the advice that I learned so early on in my nutrition education: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I’d spout off a bunch of reasons every time I uttered those words of wisdom to those starting out on the journey to better health.

“People who eat breakfast lose more weight.”

“It sets you up for a good eating pattern for the rest of the day.”

“It helps you avoid overeating.”

“It helps balance your hormones and regulate your metabolism.”

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

But … wait for it … that advice could be wrong. I know, I just said I was wrong. Husband, are you listening?

Though studies in the past have supported the idea that eating breakfast helps with weight loss and keeping weight off, newer research is showing that it may not be so cut and dry. Whenever new studies show the opposite of previous research, it’s important to take them with a grain of salt. However, it’s also refreshing to know that breakfast might not be as important as we thought, easing the pressure off many people who just can’t get on board with that early morning meal.

One of the studies compared people who ate breakfast to people who didn’t, without changing any other factors in their daily routine. At the end of the study, the results showed that there was no weight loss difference between the two groups. Another study showed that people who ate breakfast had increased activity levels, but the calories burned from the extra activity was offset by the additional calories consumed at breakfast. The only other difference that was shown was that people who skipped breakfast were more sluggish in the morning.

So while it may not be necessary to force yourself to eat breakfast if you just can’t jump on that bandwagon, if you can stomach eating in the morning, I’d still stick with it.

There are benefits to increased physical activity outside of simply burring calories, like improving your cardiovascular fitness and counteracting all those hours we Americans tend to spend sitting. After all, even five minutes of exercise can make a difference. Plus, since many of us need to be up and accomplishing things in the morning, whether it’s getting an early start at the office or getting the kids out of bed and dressed, it’d be beneficial to not be feeling sluggish due to a lack of breakfast. Not to mention, eating breakfast is one more opportunity to get your daily fill of fruits and vegetables, an area in which many of us fall short.

Personally, I need all the energy I can get to keep up with my toddler, and I don’t see that changing any time soon, even as he gets older. He’s on the go from the minute his eyes pop open in the wee, wee hours of the morning. I can’t say I wake up with quite the same enthusiasm, so I need something that will not only jump start my morning, but keep me going throughout the day. If we sit down to breakfast, not only is that time well spent together, but it fuels me with the energy I need to then chase after my 2-year-old on his bike, give him piggy-back rides up and down the stairs, and keep up with his ever-changing yet always energetic desires. If I didn’t start with breakfast, I can’t guarantee when my next chance to stop and eat would be, and let me tell you — I get super cranky when I’m hungry, not unlike my toddler. So I know the research is saying it doesn’t matter if you eat breakfast or not, but I beg to differ when it comes to my own eating habits.

That being said, if breakfast just isn’t your thing, it looks like it’s time to stop stressing about it. Practicing healthy habits throughout the day and not worrying so much about the timing of a particular meal seems to not be a big deal in the long run.

So are you a breakfast person or a non-breakfast eater? 

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