Myth: Breakfast is part of an essential diet

I have been re-learning about food from posts on Ruth’s and Kara’s blog.  It has been my inspiration for this next myth-buster.  There are many things I have been told by society and my mother (who is a dietician) about breakfast.  They are something like ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ and ‘you need to eat breakfast to lose weight’.  Sound familiar?

My relationship with food and breakfast was force feed.  My mother often used food to control me – she withheld it and forced me to eat at a certain time.  I ate breakfast every morning before I went to school.  And when I lived on my own I ‘felt’ the need to eat when I woke up, to have a ‘breakfast’.

My relationship with food began to change slowly – not only was I living on my own at university but I was also exposed to ‘cafeteria food’.  After graduation, I started a job where I worked rotating shifts (1st week 3pm-11pm, 2nd 11pm-7am, 3rd 7am-3pm, 4th – off).  Needless to say my ‘breakfast’ varied during the week and plus I found that I valued sleep more than food when I worked night shifts so I ate only 2 meals a day because I just couldn’t stomach eating at 4am in the morning.

Through all this, even after I changed to a job without shifts, I still maintained in my head that I needed to eat ‘breakfast’.  It was important to a healthy diet (here, I mean the way we eat and not a weight loss program).


Eventually, I changed my behaviours to suit me – I think I did this unconsciously to survive.  I’m never hungry after I have gotten up, showered and dressed.  It takes a good hour to 2 hours before I can eat something.  When we stayed in a hotel last, I did something that I usually don’t do.  I forced myself to eat.  When we are traveling and ‘forced’ to eat at certain time I usually only eat the fruit because that is only what my stomach can take.  This last time, I forced myself a piece of toast (due to our travel schedule and access to food that day).  About 30 minutes later I felt sick, I wanted to vomit.  And then a habitual memory about ‘home’ life with my parents was triggered.  I went to school every day until I was 17 feeling nauseous.  Whenever I eat too early for my body, I feel nauseous.  I have often went to the toilet and thought I was going to have it come up – it never did, it just felt like it.

With this recovery process I am so grateful to find blogs, books, etc that challenge how I think.  Question a lot of what I have been told – so – is breakfast essential?  Well, I think eating is essential ;).  If breakfast is right when you get up, then NO – I don’t eat breakfast.  This whole ‘proven theory’ about breakfast – where has this come from?  Well, there have been numerous studies that prove me wrong and are they telling me something I should know and accept?  Well, BBC Future didn’t think so.  I enjoyed reading this article merely for the fact that it looked at a lot of the research that was done on this subject and asked some relevant questions – questions that could be asked of any research.  I hope you enjoy reading it!  Any thoughts on this?  What’s your ‘breakfast’?

Hugs, TR

Highlights of the article (if unable to access through link) – Does skipping breakfast make you put on weight? by Claudia Hammond (BBC Future)

1.  The idea of eating a breakfast comes from the fact that we will be more hungry if we miss breakfast and therefore more likely to consume higher calorie foods the rest of the day.  This would lead to weight gain.

2.  Studying the correlation between weight gain and eating/missing breakfast is challenging.  Example, definition of breakfast (time specific or not?; before 10am); variety in what is eaten for breakfast across countries; reviewing snapshots in time rather than longitudinally.

3. A review of old research was done in the article.  In the end, various studies among different continents revealed confusing results to show any clear link between the two.  Conclusion from review: difficult to prove causation due to how study was conducted and it is difficult to discern if being overweight causes skipping breakfast or vice versa (chicken or the egg).  Looking at a longitudinal study (eliminating chicken and egg factor) of 2003 revealed that heavier children who missed breakfast actually lost weight over time.  Yet, another study of obese women revealed changing eating routines helps lose weight.  So, whichever study you pick you can prove a point to either eat breakfast or not.

4.  Article concludes that people who eat breakfast do tend to have a more balanced diet overall (when looking at it from a weight aspect).

5.  The article further suggests that it is about personal preference and until good controlled research is done, we should follow our stomachs and not fight it.


The Pasta Bowl

In my discovery of what NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) actually is in year 2010 I realized that not only was Marian a narcissistic friend but friends of mine for 3 years were in fact showing signs of this awful disorder.  Now, after discovering narcissism it seems easy to identify everyone with it because at some point someone will act narcissistic and of course at times we as humans need to be so for self-preservation.  The one distinguishing factor for me is the consistency of the narcissism (all the time) rather than situational.  And the manner in which they make you feel about yourself through subtle insults.  So it was quite unnerving for me when I realized that Don is narcissistic.

Don is married to Lydia and they have two children (boy, 7 – girl, 5) and we hung out with them almost every weekend when we lived in the same town.  They moved in the beginning of the year 2010 and lived about 8 hours by car from us.  During one visit in the summer of 2010 I realized that Don may in fact be highly narcissistic and I told myself to be cautious…so I spent the next 7 months during our visits with them observing.

I was certain that he was narcissistic from our last visit with them in January of 2011.  All his behaviours leading up to this time had reflected narcissism and this one incident, The Pasta Bowl, verified he was a male narcissist.  On the first evening we were having dinner with them Don could not join us for dinner as he said he had to take a phone call from his boss during dinner time.  My boyfriend who was not there that evening (because we were visiting them while my boyfriend was in town on business) because of a work dinner.  So Lydia, the kids, and I ate dinner while Don was in the bedroom talking to his boss.  The call lasted for two hours and at this point the kids had gone to bed.

After the phone call Don emerged from the bedroom ready to eat but of course did not go directly into the conversation – as if waiting for us to ask.  Lydia prepared him the spaghetti with sauce in a bowl and we sat down at the table as he started to eat (small note, Don sat at the head of the table).  He started to speak vaguely about the phone call and Lydia started to probe so that he wouldn’t be so mysterious with his answers.  As he started cutting the pasta some of the pasta dropped out of the bowl and it fell on the placemat.  When he saw this he said ‘What the f!@k is going on, what kind of F!@king bowl is this?’ in a truly upset, mad voice.  I was shocked…few pieces of spaghetti had fallen over…no biggy.  Nope, it was a big deal to him.  And then when I thought I couldn’t be more shocked – Lydia responded – I will buy the proper Pasta Bowls.  And in my head it was my turn to say ‘What the F!@k!’  He had caused the spaghetti to fall over with his aggressive cutting of the pasta…the bowl had too much pasta…the correct response is…Learn how to eat you freakin’ caveman!

So this incident will be forever in my head ingrained as the moment I realized that our friend, Don, was truly narcissistic and that our friend, Lydia, was dealing with it on a daily basis.  I left their home with sadness for good friends and sadness that Don had never seen us as friends.