There are those among us who would love nothing more than to prove that breakfast, contrary to all the studies, does not mean that much, or not as much as we thought, or doesn't do the things we maybe thought it did. Don't listen to them!
In case there was any confusion about where I stand on this essential matter: There is no meal I have imagined, craved or conjured more than breakfast. If there is such a thing as being a breakfast person, I am that thing. Perhaps nothing is more of a crush-diminisher than finding out that a new acquaintance hates eggs, or could not care less about what he or she eats first thing, content to simply grab whatever is hanging around and hit the road.
One of the best things that has ever happened to me is breakfast. One of the second best things that has ever happened to me is the discovery that some restos serve it all day long. To this day when I see that a diner or some such will fry up some bacon and eggs even only competently but at all hours I make a point to tell others with sincere enthusiasm, only to find that no one else cares anywhere near as much as I do. Everyone else is meh, and I'm all swoon. It's a tough life.
When my husband tells me he accomplished hours of work with no coffee or breakfast, I look at him quizzically like you would an alien or a small animal with whom it has become momentarily difficult to forge a genuine connection. Once in junior high I got this new boyfriend, and the ex-girlfriend he'd recently broken up with called me on the phone to talk, and instead of being kinda pissy, she just wanted to know if I liked breakfast, biscuits in particular. I did. I do. We're still friends.
If I had to declare a take-me-I'm-yours breakfast, it would probably be a classic Southern one: scrambled or fried eggs, bacon or sausage, biscuits, gravy, hashbrowns, coffee, and some kind of obligatory fruit. This breakfast is pretty terrible for you — the fruit is there, at least, to suggest you're aware of the natural world — but it gets the job done of feeling as though you've been blanketed inside in the warm goodness of protein and carbs and fat, and it is so often had in lazy group settings where the morning is whiled away because nothing else matters as much as the food, and everything else will get done eventually just fine. This is the correct way to live.
As much as I idealize it to near-fetish proportions, I've moved past this breakfast into much healthier fare. And yet, I still search for the exact right perfect combination of foods that will create this feeling in me without all the risk. I have pared it down to a handful of breakfasts which I rotate out so as to never become too bored, and when things are getting a little bleak, I re-introduce the Southern classic to indulge, then reset and begin again.
Here are my current faves:
Oatmeal with blueberries, almonds and honey w/coffee
One fried egg, one veggie sausage patty, blueberries, avocado, two sautéed mushrooms w/coffee
Black beans, soy chorizo, mushroom, one fried egg, salsa, avocado w/coffee
Avocado, blueberries, almonds, one hard-boiled egg w/coffee
Sometimes if things are weird I'll only have a fresh juice.
Here are my current no-ways:
Fuck flavored yogurts.
Fuck protein bars.
Of course, none of this is changed by a recent pair of studies saying that, even though eating the ever-important first meal of the day is said to increase IQ, aid in weight loss, and reduce the risk of heart attack, breakfast may, in fact, be less important than we thought in those regards.
Says a piece over at HuffPo:
Most of the research on breakfast comes from long-term observational studies, which collect a large amount of data on the habits of individuals within the context of their daily lives. For example, researchers have discovered that people who report eating breakfast also tend to test for higher IQs — but that's not because they did a targeted, controlled study on the connection between breakfast habits and smarts. Instead, they ran an analysis of those two data points, finding a correlation, though certainly not a causal relationship.
But in two recent, well-powered trials published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers directly tested the effect of breakfast on the body. They randomized the study subjects to either eat or skip breakfast while tracking things like weight loss, metabolism and cardiovascular health along the way. The difference between the eaters and the skippers? Not much.
One study tracked 309 overweight/obese participants who wanted to lose weight, and over four months, both the eaters and skippers had lost weight. In the second study, 33 "lean" folks were told to eat 700 calories by 11 a.m. or in two hours of waking, while others were instructed to eat nothing until noon o' clock. Over six weeks, neither group's metabolism had changed.
The author points out that these are short-term studies, which don't necessarily reflect on long-term outcomes. But yeah, I guess if you're the sort of person who isn't into bliss, consider this news your version of a fresh, piping hot, non-sustainable plate of data to shut down the haters at parties, you know, all those parties I imagine everyone goes to where people debate whether breakfast is essential or not and how to feel about it (I don't get out much).
Says probably smart but clearly flawed breakfast-killing person:
"There is a widely-held cultural belief that breakfast is somewhat of a 'miracle meal,' perhaps since it does tend to pack in a lot of essential nutrients and is associated with many healthy outcomes," Dhurandhar continued. "But I think our results highlight the importance of not relying on observational evidence and testing our recommendations using methods that can determine causation, such as randomized controlled trials."
To which I say with great restraint, observational evidence your face. *Fist pump* BREAKFAST! (Please tell me your perfect breakfast in the comments so I may evaluate its overall appeal at my discretion and decide whether to add it to my current regime.)
Image by Jim Cooke, photo via Shutterstock.