Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?
You’ve likely heard the old adage, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But really, what is the truth to that statement? The idea of breakfast being the most important meal of the day has been around for decades. As the nutritionist Adelle Davis famously put it back in the 1960s: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.”
Throughout history, the concept of an “ideal” breakfast has often shifted. Just a few years ago, sugar cereal and orange juice were seen as the norm. Now, only a few years later, we are seeing the sales of breakfast cereal and orange juice quickly decline. This decline comes with the widespread understanding of the dangers of processed foods and added sugars.
Recent health trends such as intermittent fasting, seem to do away with breakfast altogether. That may have its place for adults experimenting with different lifestyles, but for children, research still shows that having a well balanced, nutritious meal in the morning provides a slow energy release throughout the morning. This morning fuel is key for a lively, active day!
On the contrary, failing to have a nutritious breakfast, or any breakfast at all has been correlated with a negative impact on cognitive functioning. So, research says — a well-balanced breakfast is the way to go!
OK, so … what exactly does well-balanced mean? We hear the term well-balanced all the time, but what components should breakfast actually include in order to be considered balanced?
Well-balanced meals were ones that typically included foods from 3 out of the 5 food groups. In Canada’s latest Food Guide, we seemingly did away with those dated food groups that hadn’t changed since the 1970s. Up until the Food Guide change in 2019, those food groups were: milk and milk products, meat and alternatives, grain products, fruits and vegetables.
In order to simplify food choices for Canadians, the basis of the new food guide simply says to have plenty of fruit and vegetables, protein and whole grains. The five groups of the past have been reduced to just three.
Here are some simple breakfast ideas that include plenty of fruit/veggies, protein and whole grains. These combinations sound like a great start to the day!
- Yogurt parfait with fruit and trail mix
- Oatmeal with milk and berries
- Toast with eggs, and spinach
- Fruit smoothie with a handful of homemade trail mix
- Half a whole grain bagel, topped with sliced cheese and tomato!
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Chef Lisa Ruscica
Chief Food Ambassador