Breakfast: The most important meal of the day?

A statement we’ve heard since we can remember – but is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

Breakfast can mean something different to all of us, whether that’s having a cup of coffee, a slice of toast or nothing at all. But is breakfast an essential part of our diet that we should all try to include? Let’s have a look at why breakfast is important and some of the reasons why people don’t have breakfast, with helpful suggestions to try and tackle them.

Reasons to have breakfast

Eating a healthy breakfast can make sense for a number of reasons, including helping to improve your mental performance, concentration and mood. This is because a healthy breakfast provides energy to kick-start your day, along with some of the essential nutrients the body needs. Boots nutritionist Vicky Pennington says, "Don't skip breakfast. A healthy breakfast will give you energy to face the day, a top-up of essential nutrients and help you concentrate. Try a wholegrain cereal with milk, wholemeal bread with nut butter or fresh fruit with yogurt for slow releasing carbs that keep you going for longer and provide protein." If you already eat breakfast but are looking for healthier options, try making a few swaps like going from jam to peanut butter, white toast to wholemeal toast or a high sugar breakfast bar to a low sugar one.

Let’s have a look at some reasons why people don’t have breakfast…

"I'm not hungry first thing"

If you’re genuinely not hungry in the morning, then don’t force it. Instead, you could take breakfast with you to work and eat it once you’ve had time to wake-up and read through your morning emails. Or if it’s a weekend, try having something later on in the morning. As it’s the weekend, you could always treat yourself by going out for breakfast (or brunch if you’re a late riser!).

"I don't have time in the morning"

There are quick and easy choices you can make for an on-the-go breakfast that doesn’t involve a lot of time or planning ahead. A banana with a handful of almonds is a good option for eating on-the-go, as they slowly release energy throughout the morning. If you’re not keen on a banana first thing, you could always opt for a healthy yogurt – remember to check the label if you’re trying to watch your sugar intake. Or another option is to soak oats in a milk of your choice before bed, add some fruit and pop them in the fridge and add toppings like nuts and seeds to them come morning. If you keep them in the container, you can literally grab-and-go.

"I'm trying to watch my weight"

Research suggests people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight because they tend to eat less during the day. This won’t be true for everyone, but establishing a regular eating pattern has been shown to reduce the likelihood of weight gain. So if you find you’re craving calorific foods before lunch, eating a healthy and nutritious breakfast may help keep those cravings at bay.

"I can't find a breakfast I enjoy"

If you think you don’t like breakfast, maybe you’ve not found the right one for you yet. Remember, there’s more than cereal or toast to choose from. If you’re not sure where to start, try basing your breakfast around starchy carbohydrate foods and protein like a wholegrain breakfast cereal with milk or yogurt. Or you could try a healthy smoothie, flavoured porridge, scrambled eggs with mushrooms and tomatoes or breakfast bars. 

Remember to also include a drink with your breakfast, as being well hydrated can help you concentrate better.