There’s been a rumor out there for a long time about breakfast that I”d like to dispel. The truth is, it’s not as important as you think and no, you’re not hurting yourself if you don’t eat it.
First off, let’s be clear that breakfast is defined as the first meal of the day: “break” “fast”. It’s not confined to a certain window of time in the morning, so if you don’t eat when you wake up, you’re actually not missing breakfast, you’re simply suspending it to a later time.
In fact, there is some inherent benefit to skipping breakfast if you’re not hungry in the morning as your body can burn fat more efficiently if you fast for 16 hours or more. That said, there is zero benefit to starving yourself if you're hungry. There’s actually adverse effect if you do.
So if you are genuinely not hungry when you wake up in the morning, this is a feeling you should honor. If your body doesn’t need food in the morning, listen to it. Go about your AM routine, but be sure to respond to your hunger when it comes up. If that’s at 10am during a meeting, make sure you have a couple of hardboiled eggs on hand so that you don’t reach the point of being famished, but it’s a-okay to let yourself get a little hungry.
Very often, as our bodies become more fat-adapted and less reliant on a constant prop up of glucose (carbs and sugar), we can go much longer periods without food.
The technical term for this is intermittent fasting, and it’s a powerful way to lose excess body fat, but all you need to know is that if you’re not hungry, it’s okay not to eat. This is contrary to the way we were raised (to sit at the table until we finished everything on our plates) but what our parents didn’t realize was that they were setting us up for a poor relationship to food and hunger by forcing us to consume more than we really needed or wanted in the moment.
Related: How many meals a day should you eat to optimize weight loss?
In fact, many pediatricians recommend not forcing kids to finish their portions because that antiquated theory of eating what you’ve been served has clearly had deleterious effects on our waistlines as adults.
So I’ve thrown a few new terms at you that you may not recognize. If you’re not yet familiar with, fat adaption, I recommend heading here to learn more.
If you want to learn more about intermittent fasting, check out what Mark's Daily Apple has to say, but overall I”d say that learning the science behind it is less important than just listening to your body’s natural hunger feelings.
Waiting until you’re hungry to eat is a pretty novel concept when we consider the natural behaviors of our cultural approach to mealtime, but it’s something to consider in terms of what makes sense for your body vs what your schedule dictates.
Food for thought.
Related: Should you be eating carbs if you're trying to lose weight?
Caren is a certified yoga teacher, fitness instructor and ADHD Coach. As the founder of The Fit Habit, she shares ADHD-friendly self-care, food & fitness inspiration, along with practical ways to foster mind + body wellness.
I suppose I come close to intermittent fasting, especially on weekends. Not that I'm trying; I just don't wake up hungry and I usually don't eat for hours. Coffee doesn't count though. 😉
Ironically I've been thinking lately about when I should eat after learning more about fat adaption (cant remember where I read it). Some say 5 meals a day. What if i'm not hungry? Does that mean my meals are too big? Intuitive eating. Does that mean wait until my stomach is growling to eat? It's information overload! I read so much of it because it's fascinating to me. In the end, I know what is best for me 🙂
Interesting read Caren.
that's the key Jill! Knowing what's right for your body and actually listening to what it needs. Not exactly rocket science, but not well practiced in our culture, either.