Our daily meals take place at different times so a reasonable argument can be made that the content of these meals should be tailored accordingly from an optimal nutrition standpoint.
Let’s start with breakfast, because it’s by far the most ridiculous example.
Breakfast is the first meal of the day, so you need to bear in mind that your body has been starving for anywhere from six to 18 hours depending on your eating window and how much sleep you get.
It’s the longest period you’ll go without eating, and thus your body is most sensitive to what you put in it upon waking. Otherwise, there’s really no difference between breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Yet, for some reason many think it’s absurd to eat vegetables in the morning. The only green deemed acceptable is avocado, and everything needs to be as beige as possible – instant oats, cereal, bread, pastries, milk, bananas.
These are mainly simple carbohydrates with little nutrient value, and pre-processed so that they are short on fibre and quickly digested by a starving stomach.
The article, “Meet insulin, your body’s most food-dependent hormone”, discussed insulin sensitivity and why it is important for your health.
Hammering your insulin receptors every morning when they’re at their most sensitive is not ideal. You have no need for sugars at this point anyway as your body will have naturally mobilised sugars from storage as part of waking up.
The only possible reason for a breakfast of simple carbs is if you’ve just trained hard to the point of glycogen depletion.
Short-lived popularity of green smoothies
There was hope several years ago when green smoothies came into fashion as a breakfast item; packed with colourful vegetables and chockfull of nutrients. Except if you only put broccoli, kale, cucumber and an apple in a blender it doesn’t exactly taste great.
People then started removing the fibre by juicing them and adding fibre-free, sucrose-loaded pineapple juice, coconut water and tablespoons of honey. “It’s ok, they’re superfoods!” is what most said and believed.
So that backfired too. Especially because these people were then hungry again an hour later and snacking on office crackers because their 200-calorie breakfast had made them feel bloated but not actually given them any satiety.
When people are told that they should be eating fats and vegetables for breakfast they say, “ew! I can’t eat that for breakfast!”, as if tradition means they’re justified in eating sweet food for breakfast when they wouldn’t make it their entire meal at any other time of day.
The right way to eat breakfast
It’s understandable that you’re in a rush to get to school or work or get on with your day and you need something quick and easy to consume. But no meal should be rushed.
Turn off Netflix or leave the bar 15 minutes earlier the night before and go to bed earlier. Get up and make a proper breakfast (it doesn’t have to be complex) and take your time eating it.
If you want to make it productive then use this time to write your day’s to-do list. If you’ve got crazy kids to deal with, then skip breakfast for now and eat it later when you have some time to yourself. Food was never meant to be “fast”.
You can apply the same concept to countless other situations. Look in someone’s car and you’ll see typical “Car Snacks” – a category that Haribo and Mars Bar seem to have cornered well.
Is this what you’d snack on during a hike? No, because for some reason you’re then in “healthy mode”. Try to ensure you’ve always got a bag of trail mix in your car for long journeys instead.
Many cannot resist the almost compulsory tradition of eating popcorn at the cinema, though the question you should ask yourself is, “If I loved it that much, wouldn’t I eat it on other occasions as well?”.
Why not sneak into the cinema instead a backpack of low-calorie salted seaweed or rice cakes to snack on and a bottle of water? Suddenly there’s a dramatic drop in your sugar and calorie intake despite you still crunching away to the latest superhero movie.
Your culture, religion, family or just habits may have conditioned you in many other ways. It’s not that you should never ever indulge in a once-a-year moon cake festival treat or Hari Raya dodol.
But if you allow this cynical view to craft your portioning and apply it to more day-to-day traditions, calorie control becomes much easier in the long-run.
Joompa is a digital platform that facilitates the sourcing and booking of freelance, mobile personal fitness coaches. Available on iOS or via www.joompa.com.my