Breakfast Is Canceled
New research indicates that for some people, breakfast may be a waste of time
Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day. As a kid, I’d pour myself one heaping bowl of Life cereal, then another, lingering at the table while I read a book. My breakfast is much healthier now — I make probably the best scrambled eggs you’ll ever have, and my love of Shredded Wheat (not frosted!) is practically an obsession — but I still rely on it, every single morning, to get me up and going.
My adoration of breakfast and semi-healthyish approach to it was heavily bolstered by the belief that I was doing something absolutely essential for my well-being.
Not only was breakfast a true pleasure, but it was the most important meal of the day! A giver of the force! My parents never had to compel me to eat it; I woke up each morning overjoyed with visions of an overflowing bowl of cereal with the perfect amount of milk. I would die if I didn’t eat breakfast, and those people who skipped it, who weren’t hungry in the morning or who didn’t have time to sit down with a Dear America novel and a bowl of Special K, were basically doing little more than standing in an execution line.
But increasingly, nutrition researchers realize that what we’ve been fed (ha) about breakfast is a misunderstanding of how we metabolize calories. It’s a modern invention exploited by the cereal industry, and the question of whether you should continue eating breakfast or not is wholly individual. Intermittent fasting — a growing trend in which people restrict their eating to a window of time (often, that means skipping breakfast and only eating between the hours of noon and 8 p.m.) — has only added to breakfast’s diminished status. Even I, a massive fan of my morning Wheat Chex, have to admit: You might not really need breakfast.
Despite my avowed love, I’m actually not breakfast’s biggest fan: That prize belongs to the cereal industry, which took advantage of the post-industrial trend toward eating breakfast, and the increasing availability of refrigeration in the post-war period (what’s cereal without cold milk?), to successfully create a culture in America where cereal sat at the crux of all things breakfast.