Fasting or Breakfast or both?
I once came across an old saying in Tamil.
ஒரு வேளை சாப்பிடும் ஒருவர் யோகி
இரண்டு வேளை சாப்பிடும் ஒருவர் போகி
மூன்று வேளை சாப்பிடும் ஒருவர் ரோகி
“ The one who consumes food once a day is a healthy person
The one who consumes food twice a day is a wealthy person
The one who consumes food thrice a day is a disease inflicted person “
Once I read it I started researching more into this topic of diet. Until that moment I used to eat whenever I was hungry and at random times. No proper schedule. I although remained fit because I had healthy foods like fruits and nuts combined with vegetables. I rarely had fast foods. Apart from all that I also had lot of physical and mental exercise to burn calories as I consumed them.
In modern times we have food readily available for us at anytime, So we are very much tempted and consume not so healthy food like pizza, burger and chocolates (excluding dark chocolates). All these kinds of food does not necessarily suite our metabolism or our climatic condition. For example people in the west consume high fat and carbohydrate, this consumption is justified for their cold climate since they require more calories to burn.
From our very childhood we are told not to skip breakfast by our teachers, parents and doctors. Skipping breakfast is said to deprive us of the glucose and nutrients that is essential to start our day.
Apart from that our stomach remains empty for a long period of time right from the night we take our dinner. Let us assume a case where a person takes his dinner at 8 pm and after that he consume food only at 12 pm (lunch) at the afternoon, This will create a large gap of 15 hours where he doesn’t consume any food. Most doctors consider this to be bad for the stomach and this disrupts the metabolic functions in our body. But the truth about breakfast is something different.
My first question was “is breakfast a real need or a created need?”
To answer this question I need to do a lot of research. I started by how my elders like my grandfather or great grandfather’s diet routines were like because from my interaction with elder people in my relative circle I found that people in those days had good health and physical stamina. Although they used little to no fertilisers in farmlands and there was very less pollution at that time, these were not the only reasons behind their good health and longevity. Their diet routines also played a major role in their longevity and health. It looks like my forefathers followed a routine where they didn’t have food before 10 am. They only had small amount of porridge, mostly horse gram porridge (rich in protein and fibre) for morning.
They had more food in the afternoon usually of high calorie,cooked with vegetable growing native like broad beans or bitter gourd.These native vegetables are known to have natural insulin in them.In the evening they consumed some light food before 7 or 8 pm. By taking the dinner early, One can reduce the risk of acid reflux when they lie flat for sleeping at 10 pm or 11 pm. When they had good health and physical stamina without having breakfast then where comes the real need to have the breakfast. As far as I know previous generation people (around 18th century and before) did not have the concept of breakfast, but still, they lived a healthy life.
The next question that arose in my mind was “does this no breakfast routine work for everybody with modern lifestyle?”
I didn’t have breakfast for past 2 months. I only had little porridge or coffee in the morning and had my lunch (sumptuous meal with all the calories I require for entire day) at 12:25 pm and I have my dinner at around 7 or 8 pm depending on my work at night. So I had food only two times a day. Despite not having breakfast for past two months, I am perfectly alright and I am continuing this routine. In the beginning it was little difficult to adapt to this routine but later everything was sailing smooth better than ever. Then my body adjusted to the new routine and functions relatively well compared to the time when I had breakfast.Something that works for me necessarily need not work for others.
There is a solution for people who cannot follow such kinds of routine. Its fasting. Fasting is a willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both for a period of time. Fasting for longer time does not work for everybody. There are many methods for fasting dry fasting, liquid fasting and partial fasting. Dry fasting, also known as absolute fasting is the most extreme of the types of fasting. This has spiritual roots and this consists of foregoing food and water for short periods (Usually not recommended, but intresting to read about).
Liquid fasting is where there is only liquied diet, There are many benefits to it like, detox occurs more quickly and is usually can be followed with ease. Partial fasting sometimes called selective fasting is the exclusion or limitation of certain foods that makes it partial.
For a person very interested to adopt fasting in his lifestyle to avail its benefits he needs something that is scientifically proven and has more online forums, articles and help groups to start with.
Is there any kind of fasting technique like that? Sure, Its intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term for various diets that cycle between period of fasting and non-fasting. There are more videos and resources available online to adopt this technique into your lifestyle.
Some of the benefits of adopting intermittent fasting in your lifestyle are — insulin sensitivity is increased lowering the risk of type-2 diabetes, has the ability to reduce stress, beneficial effects on metabolism that may lead to reduced risk of cancer, improves cognitive and analytical thinking ability, extend your lifespan helping you live longer.
Fasting has been in the practice of many religion like (not limited to) Hinduism, Christianity, Islamism and Buddhism. For example in Vaishnavist sect of Hinduism there is a habit fasting during Ekadashi day (twice a month) of the hindu calendar month. Old aged people have light meal but do not consume rice during that auspicious day (partial fasting). The next day, having kept their tummy empty for long time, they don’t start consumption of food just like that, instead they cook “Agathi keerai” scientific name Sesbania Grandiflora to subside or regulate the acid levels in stomach due fasting the previous day. This ancient wisdom is very much researched and appreciated in the field of science.
Some of actions you can take to maintain good health are to make a diet plan and find out what food suits you, To avoid fast food and high sugary foods as far as possible, Try to experiment with various fasting techniques and methods and adopt the one that suits you, Change to nutrient based snacks with high fibre and protein, Consult a good dietitian and nutritionist and fasting experts to regulate your diet, Combining exercise with a proper diet is very important. Try to do simple exercise at proper and fixed times with consistency.