Toast. Scrambled eggs. Aloo pronthe. Poha. Pancakes. All popular breakfast items, indicative of the first and most important daily meal. Or is it? Over the years, the refrain ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ has permeated into almost every culture and country, becoming an omnipresent and hard-to-argue health suggestion. But is that really the case, or are we living in a breakfast version of The Matrix? New information has come to light which shows that breakfast may just be one of the biggest marketing scams of all time.
According to Abigail Carroll, author of The Invention of the American Meal, a campaign of religious moralization and advertising in the 1800s helped push the idea of breakfast as the most important meal of the day.
However, this was actually a ploy to sell more bacon, and it also capitalised on the prevalence of misinformation around healthy diets to push this agenda. In fact, a PR expert named Edward Bernays got some doctors to sign off on the idea that a protein-rich, heavy breakfast of bacon and eggs was healthier than a light breakfast. He then got newspapers to publish the results of his petition as if it was a scientific study.
The idea that breakfast was of utmost importance originated also from a ploy to sell cereal, at a time when things like Kelloggs cornflakes were just starting out.
John Harvey Kellogg himself was an extremely religious man, and he tied his religious zeal to the importance of healthy eating. This meant his product was automatically considered extremely important at the start of the day, despite a lack of evidence.
There’s not much proof that breakfast is any more important than other meals. In fact, recent studies have even found that skipping breakfast could have health benefits!
For years, we’ve been told that breakfast is extremely important to stave off hunger for the rest of the day, and to maintain a balanced and lean diet. However, this seems to not be the case. Flavia Cicuttini, Monash University professor and head of rheumatology at Alfred Hospital, said,
Breakfast is not the most important time of the day to eat, even though that belief is really entrenched in our society and around the world. If you eat breakfast, you won’t metabolise better and you may still be hungry later on. If a person is trying to lose weight or manage their calorie intake there’s no evidence that changing their dietary plan to eat breakfast will help them.
The British Medical Journal also stated that ‘caution is needed when recommending breakfast for weight loss in adults, as it could have the opposite effect’.
Regardless of established beliefs, breakfast may not be the best gateway to weight loss. There appears to be no evidence that corroborates that eating breakfast promotes weight loss or that skipping breakfast leads to weight gain.
While there have been studies that said people who eat breakfast are healthier, those studies also factored in facts like these people didn’t smoke, drink or live sedentary lifestyles.
Some of us like to eat earlier in the day, while others feel hungry later. This is according to our own unique metabolism. Similarly, everyone who is overweight would not benefit from skipping breakfast, as it all comes down out our physiology.
Basically, there’s not much proof that breakfast is more important than any of the other meals you eat in a day. There’s no miracle meal for humans. What truly matters is your metabolism, choosing healthy foods, and curating your diet to your own body.