Eating Breakfast This Way Will Regulate Your Appetite Throughout the Day
I’m not going to get into whether or not you should eat breakfast. Through radically challenging my habits over the past couple of years, I have tried many different patterns: eating breakfast right after waking up, eating breakfast later, fasting until 11 am, not eating breakfast at all…
Some studies have proven that breakfast is the most important meal of the day in terms of fitness and health, others have concluded that it doesn’t matter. So I agree with Alexandra Johnstone, professor of appetite research at the University of Aberdeen, when she tells the BBC this:
“Breakfast is most important for people who are hungry when they wake up.”
Conclusion: eat breakfast if you want to. I’ve picked my side: I do eat breakfast. Because I’m hungry.
However, I did discover something. Something quite interesting, as it impacts my entire eating day. It has to do with how you eat breakfast, if at all…
I tried it light and “healthy”
Eating breakfast is one thing. Composing a good one is another.
What’s a good breakfast? According to the Chinese medicine practitioner I consult three times a year, it’s supposed to change every day. She advises eggs, whole-wheat bread, plant-based yogurt with good muesli without too much added sugar, oatmeal, etc.
MayoClinic provides too some guidelines for a healthy breakfast. According to them, it should contain:
- Whole grains;
- Lean protein (such as eggs, lean meat, legumes, and nuts);
- Low-fat dairy products (although my Chinese medicine practitioner does not recommend cow’s milk);
- Fruits and vegetables.
“Together, these food groups provide complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein and a small amount of fat — a combination that packs health benefits and helps you feel full for hours”, they add.
That being said, I tried a few variations. Fruit. Avocado toast. Turkey ham. And so on. I also tried to keep it light, to avoid eating too many calories straight away in the morning, and left the breakfast table with still a little space in my stomach.
The problem was that I didn’t feel satisfied…
I like eggs and avocado toast from time to time. Fruit too, sometimes. But if I’m honest and in tune with my body and mind, it’s not what I crave in the morning. My favorite breakfast is actually neither the healthiest nor the worst. It consists of soy yogurt and a mixture of cereals. The first one is “healthy”, it’s whole-wheat flakes without too many added sugars (less than 15g per 100g). I mix it with whole wheat cereal with dark chocolate pieces. It’s a little less healthy, but it’s downright delicious. I love eating this. It makes me look forward to breakfast time.
I used to only have one yogurt. I thought it was more “reasonable”. Except for that one day I was particularly hungry, and I ate two. Here’s what I discovered that day:
When I ate what I craved in proper amounts, I found that it regulated my appetite and cravings throughout the day. I found myself eating less and not having dessert the rest of the day. Not because I was restricting myself. Because I didn’t want to.
When I was just having one yogurt or eating “healthier” foods, I tended to overeat and have dessert later because I hadn’t had my “yum” fix for the day.
Therefore, a good breakfast became the foundation of my eating day.
Restriction leads to cravings
I could do better than sugary cereals first thing in the morning. But that’s okay. Here’s why:
“High-protein breakfasts have been found particularly effective in reducing food cravings and consumption later in the day. […] But some research suggests if we’re going to eat sugary foods, it’s best to do it early. One study found that changing levels of the appetite hormone leptin in the body throughout the day coincide with having our lowest threshold for sweet food in a morning, while scientists from Tel Aviv University have found that hunger is best regulated in the morning. They recruited 200 obese adults to take part in a 16-week-long diet, where half added dessert to their breakfast, and half didn’t. Those who added dessert lost an average of 40lbs (18kg) more.” — BBC
Again, I’m not a nutrition or health professional. I’m just a writer interested in food and fitness. In writing this, I just want to share something I’ve discovered for myself, that when I satisfy my cravings and appetite in the morning, I feel more balanced throughout the day.
Restriction leads to cravings. There’s no secret to that.
Therefore, I will not try to restrict myself, either in quantity or in food choices. I’m not going to binge on donuts and pains au chocolat either, because that wouldn’t make me feel good. But choosing the 100% healthiest option isn’t always the best solution. Nor trying to “get it light”.
Sometimes finding an in-between can contribute positively to your overall journey.