Not a breakfast person? Here's how to stop skipping in just three days.
This morning, I drank my coffee. Then I got very busy—the skip-breakfast kind of busy. Which was ironic, because at 10 am, I had arranged to interview Gayl Canfield, RD, director of nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Florida, about why skipping breakfast is a rotten idea for your health. Ravenous, I grabbed a handful of tamari almonds that my more responsible self had stashed in a desk drawer last week and started dialing.
Sure enough, Canfield confirmed, skipping breakfast is linked to major health risks down the road. That’s because starving yourself early in the day usually leads to eating more later… which leads to excess weight… which can lead to heart problems or type 2 diabetes… You get the idea.
When you don’t break your overnight fast, your body draws on reserves of glucose stored in the liver and muscle tissues. It’s a limited commodity, so you’re essentially running on fumes, she says.
Then at 10 am, intense hunger strikes. But since it’s not time for lunch, most people grab snack foods, which tend to be calorie-dense and fairly nutrient-poor. Soon after, there’s a big lunch and usually more snacks, she says.
“Eating larger amounts of food—at whatever time of day—adds up to a larger overall caloric load, which is likely to lead to weight gain,” says Canfield. “If you spread out the caloric load better, your body handles it better.”
My trick of drinking only coffee at wake-up doesn’t help the matter, either. The moment anything enters your stomach, it triggers the secretion of gastric juices, beginning the digestive process and often leading to “coffee stomach,” a form of gastritis, or inflammation of the stomach.
So how to join the breakfast bandwagon? It’s easy, says Canfield. Simply compel yourself to take one bite of food the first day: a strawberry, a bite of cereal. The second day, eat two. By the third day, she swears your stomach will be ready for breakfast. “Your body has an amazing ability to adapt,” she says. “If you don’t feel hungry when you wake up it's because it has adapted to your pattern over the years.”
Canfield’s ideal breakfast? Oatmeal with a pile of fresh fruit. No need for protein in the morning, she says. I can do that—tomorrow.