On Skipping Breakfast
Estimates of how many people eat breakfast daily vary, but the general trend is that the vast majority of children and older people eat breakfast. Meanwhile, teenagers and young adults are more than three times as likely to skip breakfast than other age groups. That makes sense — school-aged teens and young professionals are the most likely group to have to rush out the door before getting in a square meal. But eating a nutritious breakfast is the most well-known habits for a healthy lifestyle, and if so many people are willing to forgo this meal, what other consequences do hurried lifestyles have on our health?
Many Americans grew up being told that they can do as much as they can if they put their mind to it, but soon this ideal comes into clash with having good health. Studying or working as much as possible means forgoing sleep, a daily workout, or as I show here, breakfast. Finding a balance between working hard and taking care of oneself is discovered during these teenage years.
Gabby Shapiro, a 17-year old student at Radnor High School, describes her breakfast routine as “decently satisfying.” She usually has coffee or tea in the morning, and occasionally she’ll eat a frozen blueberry waffle with her drink. When asked how she generally feels in the morning she said, “Tired and not ready to learn, and when I’m tired I think more about how I would rather be sleeping.” Gabby is not unlike thousands of other teenagers who find themselves struggling to find time to eat a good breakfast, and, as a result, feel less ready for the day, creating a cycle of tiredness and rushing.
Behavior change experts claim that the key to changing negative lifestyle habits starts with conquering one smaller behavior. For example, if students can master eating a daily breakfast, they can in-turn help defeat chronic exhaustion and hectic-ness. Gabby, depicts the power of the busy routine and admits,“its easy to fall into a pattern, especially now because students have a ton of extracurriculars. For me, sleep is a huge priority but I often don’t get enough.” If students could jumpstart their day with a fuller breakfast, they would not only be eating a more nutritious diet, but improving their overall health — more than a quarter-century of research shows a positive link between breakfast and mental alertness and physical performance.
Sometimes a big breakfast doesn’t mesh for people; they prefer larger lunch, or want to workout right when they wake up and eat afterwards. I like to think that the power of breakfast shouldn’t be taken so literally. Instead, people should focus on developing a routine that makes them feel positive in the morning about whatever suits them most — reading the news, meditating, walking the dog, or taking a long shower — to slow the pace of life. Studies calculating that the average speed that people walk in various cities, the average pace of life, has determined that people living in fast-moving cities are less likely to help others and have higher rates of heart diseases. And since the 1990s when such studies were first conducted, the pace of life has increased globally more than 10%. Since rushing often leads to accidents, errors and more time spent in the long run, I believe a more relaxing morning, even if it doesn’t include breakfast, can improve longterm health.
“International Experiment Proves Pace of Life is Speeding Up by Over 10%.” British Council Press Release, Quirkology, 25 Mar. 2007, www.richardwiseman.com/resources/Pace%20of%20LifePR.pdf.
Linshi, Jack. “These 2 Charts Show the Biggest Change in America’s Breakfast.” Times Magazine, Time, 12 Feb. 2015, time.com/3705987/skipping-breakfast-cereal-kellogg/.
McLynn, Kim. “31 Million U.S. Consumers Skip Breakfast Each Day, Reports NPD.” NPD, The NPD Group, Inc., 11 Oct. 2011, www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/pr_111011b/.