9: Breakfast

Have you ever heard the saying, “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dine like a pauper”? It sounds like good advice, I suppose, but is completely impractical for the life I lead. I wondered if it had any validity, so did a bit of reading on the subject. There were plenty of newspaper articles that claimed that it had been proven that eating breakfast reduced obesity, but the most thorough article I came across differed somewhat in its conclusions. Essentially, it said that while there have been a number of studies that looked at which countries eat big breakfasts and small dinners and how that correlates with levels of obesity, none of them could prove that there is any direct causal effect. Here’s a link to the article if you are interested: https://www.nhs.uk/news/food-and-diet/should-we-eat-breakfast-like-a-king-and-dinner-like-a-pauper/

The reason I have been thinking so much about breakfast is twofold. I was channel hopping the other day and caught a segment of a programme that was all about eating more healthily for less money. The “expert” was showing how much sugar and fat there is in many breakfast cereals and ended up by recommending plain oats, made with water, as the ideal breakfast.

oatmeal-Image by TanteTati from Pixabay
Mmm. Plain oats. Tempting … NOT! (Image by TanteTati from Pixabay .)

This got me hopping mad. Of COURSE plain oats made with water is low in fat and sugar. I am fat, not stupid. I, like all my other fatty brethren, am perfectly capable of reading the labels on a cereal packet. Yes, we know granola is chock full of sugars and other fattening things. But do you seriously think that “revealing” to us that “oats are better for you” is going to convert dedicated sugar addicts to a diet of slimy tasteless gloop for breakfast every day? And even if they did manage it for a week or two, how long do you think they would last before reverting? Pah. This is NOT the way to get people to change their habits. You have to try and come up with some sort of compromise – a halfway house, if you like, between the ideal (sugarless, fat free, taste free) and the most excessively “bad” versions of cereal that are out there.

That said, it might surprise you to learn that I am actually a fan of sugar free oats for breakfast. And since I have practically stopped eating sugar entirely, I find even a tiny number of raisins and a sliced banana can provide more than enough sweetness to make my morning porridge not only palatable, but delicious.

I have been surprised how little I am missing sugar. I think sugar is one of those things that if you have lots of it, you want more and more – an appetite that grows uon feeding. And if you cut it out, you become highly sensitised to even the smallest amounts. Last Friday I treated myself to an iced frappe, because it was hot and it was Friday and I just felt like it. Well, by 5pm I had the most terrible shakes and had to eat several slices of buttered toast to stabilise my blood sugar levels. A horrible feeling and one that will make it really easy for me to avoid the temptation of a sugary drink in future, no matter how crappily my day is going.

The second reason I am interested in the whole breakfast thing is because of my own life experience. For most of my adult life, and certainly in my “less fat” times, I always ate breakfast. For a lot of that time, my breakfast of choice was sugar-free Swiss muesli with skimmed milk and a banana. This may not sound great to you, but I really enjoy it as a regular breakfast.

cereal-Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay.

About 5 or 6 years ago, though, I stopped eating breakfast altogether. This was partly because of that whole fasting fad that everyone got so into at the time. You know, 5:2 or whatever. Obviously, I tried it (what weight loss fad HAVEN’T I tried?) and I discovered that I can go quite a long time without eating if I don’t start. I soon abandoned the fasting idea, but I carried on trying to delay when I started eating in the day in the hope that overall I would end up eating a bit less.

This didn’t work for me at all. I started eating huge lunches and even bigger dinners. And I piled on the pounds. I’m not saying that not eating breakfast is the reason why I gained weight, but it makes sense that it might well be a factor. Anyway, when I was looking at foods that lowered cholesterol, I found that oats came up on all the lists, so I decided to start eating breakfast again. I have to say, I am loving it and have a lot more energy and pep. Again, this may be because of other changes I’ve made, but I will stick to it for now, especially as I have managed to convince myself that I can actually feel the oats soaking up the cholesterol in my bloodstream. I have taken to mixing sugar-free-muesli with raw oats (half and half). I let them soak in milk for about 15 minutes and then slice up a banana or pop some strawberries on top. Lovely.

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